Friday, July 31, 2009

In the pleasure grounds

There are monarch butterflies, and they seem to be laying eggs on the underside of milkweed leaves. We had found an empty chrysalis not all that long ago (on a milkweed plant). There are still about a dozen figs on the tree, difficult to access for squirrels. I don't know what's keeping the jays from them. We saw two lesser goldfinches recently, a first. Honeybees are here every day, and so are hummingbirds, or at least one, since we never seem to see more than one at a time. Attractions are Turk's caps, pride of Barbados, lantana, and milkweed. It appears that the pecans will be few this year, but they are forming. There are no blooms on the hyacinth beans, but there are a few on chile plants. The parsley that was eaten right down to nothing, courtesy of future swallowtail butterflies, are recovering very nicely. Determinate tomato plants seem to be done for, but indeterminate ones are renewing themselves. New hyacinth beans keep germinating; the heat doesn't bother them. Morning glories are coming into their own. A little fertilizer from the South Austin farmers' market appears to have prodded the plumbago into more profuse bloom. It's been surprising to see honeybees attracted to the ruellia. Fennel hasn't produced much in the way of seeds so far this summer; we can hope for better results if the weather ever becomes cooler.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lucky horseshoe with every bunch

All during the local season, our asparagus came from the South Austin Farmers' Market. Now, we're finding it at H-E-B. I've always collected commercial ephemera, from nineteenth-century trade cards, to promotional post cards from all eras, to little tags and labels that catch my eye. This Mr. Lucky label took me to a Web site in Mexico. It appears that the asparagus grew or was packed for distribution in Colonia Fortaleza, Cortazar, in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. The Web site doesn't mention asparagus, but does list broccoli, garlic, celery, and the generic "verduras" (vegetables). According to the label, one serving of asparagus is five spears. Not in this household.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Breton chocolate pound cake tracked down

I've posted before about Breton chocolate pound cake, made from the never-failing recipe that works even at altitudes over 7,000 feet and in a tube pan or a loaf pan, with or without the ornamentation of the chocolate glaze. Here's a link to the main entry, and a search of this blog will find other references. I've even put up a photo at Flickr showing one version. Cecily Brownstone, the AP syndicated food writer, touted the recipe and definitely attributed it to Family Circle (May 1976), reporting that it was reprinted in a Family Circle Cookbook published by Quadrangle (hardcover, 1974; Family Circle editors and Jean Anderson). (A collection of Brownstone's papers is at NYU.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Despite the heat

The following are blooming, either in the ground or in pots, and attracting hummingbirds, honeybees, butterflies, and other visitors: ruellia, milkweed (asclepias), plumbago, lantana, Turk's cap, cosmos (pink family and yellow / orange family), and fennel. I don't think that geraniums attract anything, but we enjoy them, all the same. The same goes for rose of Sharon, morning glories, flowers of the spider plant, oleander, and black-eyed Susans, but I could be wrong about their attractiveness to the creatures. We continue to hear the giant cicada. It is very surprising to see new hyacinth-bean volunteers every day. The heat doesn't bother those seeds, apparently. We're expecting flowers from the hyacinth beans nearly any day now.

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 1982 books read

Anthony Burgess: The Long Day Wanes
Jane Austen: Mansfield Park
Elizabeth Gaskell: Wives and Daughters
Nancy Mitford: The Pursuit of Love
Nancy Mitford: Love in a Cold Climate
Rose Macaulay: The Towers of Trebizond
Evelyn Waugh: Brideshead Revisited
Charles Dickens: The Old Curiosity Shop
Anthony Trollope: John Caldigate

The Mitfords and the Macaulay were read for the first time.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

July 1981 books read

A. S. Byatt: The Game
Evelyn Waugh: A Little Order (ed. Donat Gallagher)
Margaret Drabble: The Ice Age
A. S. Byatt: The Virgin in the Garden
Susan Allen Toth: Blooming: A Smalltown Girlhood
Clive James: Unreliable Memories
Donald Hall: String Too Short to be Saved
Marge Piercy: The High Cost of Living

The Donald Hall may be the first book purchased fron David R. Godine. It has remained in print. Anyone to whom it has been given as a present always keeps it.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

July 1980 books read

Anthony Trollope: Is He Popenjoy?
Barbara Pym: A Glass of Blessings
Barbara Pym: The Sweet Dove Died
V. S. Pritchett: London Perceived
Jean Stafford: The Catherine Wheel
Harriet Martineau: Society in America
Jean Stafford: Boston Adventure

Pym, Stafford, and the Martineau were all from the Austin library. I wonder how many of these remain on the shelves after all the growth of administrative personnel and deaccessioning of books. There are two Marteinaus still there: Deerbrook and letters to Fanny Wedgwood. I find that both Pyms are there. There's just one Stafford and it's not either of these.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

July 1979 books read

George J. Becker: Shakespeare's Histories
Michael Grant: History of Rome
Mary Gordon: Final Payments
Charles Allen: Raj: A Scrapbook of British India
William Trevor: Angels at the Ritz and Other Stories
Adela Rogers St. John: Love, Laughter and Tears
Lynn Meisch: A Traveler's Guide to El Dorado and the Inca Empire
Paul Scott: The Day of The Scorpion
Paul Scott: The Towers of Silence
Paul Scott: A Division of the Spoils
Terence Conran: The Kitchen Book
Frank Swinnwerton: Arnold Bennett--A Last Word

Who now remembers Adela Rogers St. John?

Monday, July 06, 2009

Out there

The figs swell and remain on the branches, although all the leaves have yellowed and fallen. Leaves dropped last summer, too. For two weeks, hummingbirds have been seen at the Turk's caps and the pride of Barbados flowers. Lantana isn't doing much right now; new flowers are on the way and berries are all consumed. We see gulf fritillaries and unclouded sulfur butterflies. I found an empty monarch chrysalis on a potted milkweed plant. This morning, we watched two wrens try to take down a small moth caught inside the screen pavilion. They didn't succeed. We have puny cosmos, not much in the way of fennel flowers at the moment, and a few still-blooming (very few) bachelor buttons and delphiniums. Nasturtiums have dried up or, if they haven't, are not blooming. We were pleased to see a couple of rain lilies this morning; the rain must have brought them, since our twice-a-week sprinkling wouldn't be enough to do so. Circo Hermanos Vazquez has been in our dreams; if we could, we'd return for another performance, tonight's or tomorrow night's.

July 1978 books read

Geoffrey Tillotson: Mid-Victorian Studies
Gordon N. Ray: Thackeray: The Uses of Adversity
W. A. Craik: Elizabeth Gaskell and the English Provincial Novel
Winifred Gerin: Elizabeth Gaskell: A Biography
John Steegman: Consort of Taste 1830-1870
M. R. James: Ghost Stories of an Antiquary
Mark Girouard: Victorian Pubs
Mark Girouard: The Victorian Country House
Tobias Smollett: Sir Launcelot Greaves
Hal Borland: Country Editor's Boy

Sunday, July 05, 2009

July 1977 books read

Charlton Ogburn: The Adventure of Birds
Jerome K. Jerome: Three Men in a Boat
Kenneth Clark: Another Part of the Wood
Anthony Powell: Infants of the Spring

I wish that I'd made it a habit to record mysteries read.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

July 1976 books read

Virginia Woolf: The Common Reader, First Series
Rebecca West: The Thinking Reed
R. W. Harris: A Short History of 18th Century England
J. H. Plumb : England in the Eighteenth Century
G. M. Trevelyan: English Social History
Sieg bried Sassoon: Memories of a Fox-Hunting Man
Madame D'Arblay, Diary and Letters of, volumber iv, 7/1788-7/1781
W. H. Davies: Autobiography of a Super-Tramp

Davies was published in 1907. Fanny Burney was in service to the queen as a lady-in-waiting, I think, during most of the time covered in this volume.

Friday, July 03, 2009

July 1975 books read

William Thackeray: A Shabby Genteel Story
William Thackeray: Adventures of Philip
Joseph Conrad: Under Western Eyes
Mollie Panter Downes: London War Notes
Charles Dickens: The Uncommercial Traveller
George Meredith: The Adventures of Harry Richmond
Mary Boykin Chesnut: A Diary from Dixie
Thomas Wentworth Higginson: Army Life in a Black Regiment
Booker T. Washington: Up from Slavery

I always think of Under Western Eyes, The Secret Agent, and Princess Casamassima as a trio.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

July 1974 books read

William Thackeray: Henry Esmond
Anthony Trollope: Lady Anna
Anthony Trollope: The Three Clerks
Sir Arthur Bryant: Set in a Silver Sea

All these were re-reads. People have been writing a lot about that lately, ever since the Verlyn Klinkenborg piece.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

July 1973 books read

Honore de Balzac: Pere Goriot
ed. Leon Edel: The Ghostly Tales of Henry James
Honore de Balzac: Cousin Bette
Henry James: The Golden Bowl
Arnold Bennett: The Old Wives' Tale
Jane Austin: Emma
Honore de Balzac: Memoirs of Two Young Married Women

If I find time, I may list the stories included by Edel in the James collection. I did enumerate them in the little journal of readings recently found.