Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spinning backward: mariachi

Thanks to the wonderful people at Audio Systems, vinyl's on the turntable again now that it's cooler, and we're checking out some of the free and dollar-a-big-carton LPs that have gone unheard. Taking repeated spins has been Miguel Aceves Mejia, volume X, with the Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan, RCA Victor, MKS-1519. All but one track is in excellent condition. On my mental jukebox is "No volvere," which has been recorded over and over again, along with "Mundo sin guitarras," which was a big hit fairly recently for a Tejano group, La Diferenzia. There are many albums promoted on the back of this compilation, including one by Agustin Lara singing and playing the piano and one by Libertad Lamarque, who as an old lady was one of my favorite soap-opera actresses. That one is called "musica de la pelicula Amor en la sombra y otros exitos." CBS was really the big label in Mexico.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I found a partial discography for this NYC record label, new to me. We've been enjoying SCLP-9278, heard for the first time, although purchased very cheaply in a big carton of mystery LPs some time ago. This is called "Sones Cubanos: Septeto Nacional de Ignacio Pineiro." All but the first track of lado A are in very good condition. The sones are listed as Habanero, bolero, guijira, guaracha, capricho, and pregon. The rhythms are irresistible, and the trumpet or player (unnamed) is outstanding. I don't know when this LP was issued or in what era or location the recordings were actually made. A search finds recorded music in the form of CDs and MP3 downloads. Apparently, at one time Celia Cruz (La Guarachera) recorded for Seeco (from an on-line entry about Sidney Siegel). Here's a track list from a CD reissue. Amazon shows another CD reissue that includes the ten tracks on the original LP, plus additional ones.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Baker's mojo

This is a diminutive working rolling pin and it's American-style, meaning not in one piece, that the barrel of unpainted maple rolls and the red-painted handles don't move with it. This lucky rolling pin has been mine almost as long as I can remember anything at all, and I still have the little bit of home-written verse that came with it. When new, long ago, it was used to roll out piecrust scraps, which would be dusted with nutmeg and then twisted and baked. I've never learned to like pies, which were baked in quantity at least once a week, with a crust of lard and flour and a bit of salt and nothing else, but I did like that crust. The little toy but working rolling pin has always been with me and always in my baking drawer. The weather's fresh and crisp and so a Breton chocolate pound cake is fresh out of the oven (see picture of one, along with the same Adams Extract pure vanilla used today), along with a batch of popovers fresh from the cast-iron pan of straight-sided cups with the little bit extra going into a buttered Bennington bird bowl. The popovers emerged in perfect form, not a one sunken in, all with perfect puffed-up mushroom-cap tops and a bit of hollowness inside, where the hot air expanded. I use James Beard's recipe but ignore his instructions that everything must be brought to room temperature, since Marion Cunningham in her Fannie Farmer baking book reported that step not necessary, which turns out to be true. It's so wonderful that summer's over!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Morning glories, butterflies, and Bob Wills

We're growing every sort of morning glory found on the seed-racks. Many of them are old varieties put on the market again by Burpee. The first picture here doesn't capture their appearance with any justice, but there are giant saucer-sized flowers with varied intensely blue striations against white that are really spectacular, larger than moonflowers. There are monarchs in the yard again today, along with several other kinds of butterflies. We found a caterpillar who had been denuding the pepper and chile plants. It wasn't distinctive enough for us to identify it. Just as the larval form called the parsleyworm smells of the fennel leaves that it consumes around here, this one emitted the nutty aroma of pepper leaves with perhaps just a bit of basil. We're doing a lot of cooking and reading, accompanied by the Bob Wills Tiffany transcriptions, acquired cheaply and heard for the first time in their entirety. I'd never known any version of "I'm Putting All My Eggs in One Basket" other than Fred Astaire's, which we hear often (did Ella do one?), but there's one here that's fun, although brief.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Jake Pickle mask found

Wow! This has been missing for years. It's from one of those old political rallies that used to be held in Wooldridge Park. Hundreds of people wore these and were photographed doing so, whatever year this was. My various formats of Pickle pins have hidden themselves. I always find long-missing items when searching for something else altogether. Today, it's a stockpiled billfold bought more than a decade ago that I've tried to persuade a Certain Someone to use instead of one that's been disintegrating past the possibility of repair for at least that long. Elastic bands can do only so much. Items that also turned up just in one drawer were a stockpile of beautiful paper-lace doilies of various sizes and shapes, a handsome Boker slide knife that will never replace my stolen Degen (which is why it's in the drawer), a trove of wonderful Swatch designs no longer capable of working even with a new battery, an Ann Richards souvenir inauguration bandana, and a deck of Too Much Coffee Man playing cards.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Lacking only an hour, and missing seed packets

In under sixty minutes, it will be four o'clock, and the four o'clocks have been open all day long. What beautiful weather! It's a favorite type: overcast and probably not over sixty degrees all day long. It's wam enough for racket sports or outdoor handwork and cool enough to make walking and outdoor activity of many kinds pleasurable indeed. There are several variations on pink four o'clocks, and the white ones, which appeared from nowhere, truly look their best under these skies. I love it that these flowers are called marvel of Peru as an alternate name and that in Spanish they're often called the equivalent of marvel of Jalapa. We've been very sad not to find Lone Star Seed packets in any of the usual places lately. Today, when we checked at Buck Moore's feed store we were told that Lone Star Seed is no longer selling seeds in packets (implying, I think, that the company is still in the bulk business). At any rate, the Web site is no longer up. I've always bought at least one of every type of packet I could find that is printed with the old designs from plates originally meant for chromolithographic printing. The link to the site is to an archived version. When there's time, I think I should scan some of the packets that I've saved.

Friday, October 09, 2009

October 1981 books read

Rebecca West: The Judge
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala: Heat and Dust
Diane Johnson: Fair Game
F. Tennyson Jesse: A Pin to See the Peepshow
Diana Johnson: Lying Low
May Sarton: Recovering: A Journal
David Owen: High School Undercover with the Class of '80
Mrs. Gaskell's Tales of Mystery and Horror (ed. Michael Ashley)

T-shirts in current rotation

It's so wonderful that now we're enjoying at least a few days cool enough to justify hauling out some wardrobe items that are just a bit warmer. Here are some now being worn from a trove discovered during fall cleaning: Hacienda Records, Sweetish Hill anniversary, the D&H, Austin Conjunto Fest, an old KO-OP radio shirt with a lot of pink in it (did it not go over well with the guys?), and Ride the Rocks Sugarloaf Off-Road Bicycle Challenge 1985 (sponsored by Pedal Pushers Cyclery in Boulder). We may possibly begin to expect weather justifying a collar or perhaps even long sleeves.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

October 1980 books read

Jane Austen: Sense and Sensibility
Merle Miller: Lyndon
Jonathan Raban: Arabia: A Journey through the Labyrinth

S&S was a re-read.

Modern material culture: home weigh-ins

We had an old Fairbanks-Morse platform scale. A person weighing 100 pounds or over had to add a counterweight to account for that. A person weighing over 150 pounds had to add another. There was nobody over 200 pounds. There was also a Fairbanks-Morse kerosene-fueled pump to bring water up the hill and into a sheet-metal cylindrical tank whence it flowed downhill when the cold-water tap was opened. But I digress.) I can remember a poison-green pre-WWII Health-O-Meter spring scale that wasn't ours. We were weighed when it was required in connection with the rare visits to a physician's office. I was weighed and measured in connection with fundies. We bought a Terraillon spring scale through the when Conran's Habitat store was first open. (We still own a great ashtray and a handsome table lamp from the same source. But I digress.) Sometime this summer, the spring went ker-boing and the scale was done for. So now we learn what has happened in the meantime. Courtesy of Target, we now harbor the cheapest scale that was in stock: by Taylor, but not mechanical. It requires a battery and has a stupid digital, not analog, read-out. Is this progress? It wasn't that we needed it; it was just that, just as soon as the old scale, used a few times a year, expired, curiosity about weight drove us to buy a new one.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

October 1979 books read

Howard Frank Mosher: Where the Rivers Flow North
Stella Gibbons: The Charmers
Christopher Milne: The Enchanted Places
Joan Colebrook: Innocents of the West: Travels through the Sixties
Alison Lurie: Real People
Paul E. Johnson: A Shopkeeper's Millenium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, Nw York 1815-1837

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

October 1978 books read

E. M. Forster: Howard's End
W. Somerset Maugham: Collected Short Stories vol. 1
W. Somerset Maugham: Collected Short Stories vol. 2

Monday, October 05, 2009

October 1977 books read

Vladimir Nabokov: Conclusive Evidence
Maria Edgeworth: Almeria

This is an extremely scant record. Was I reading lots of mysteries (which I seldom recorded)? Were books read not recorded? Or was I really not reading? Neither one of these two books is enough to take up an entire month, no matter what was going on. I see that I recorded only one book read in November.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

October 1976 books read

James Boswell: Life of Samuel Johnson
J. H. Plumb: The First Five Georges
Fanny Burney: Cecilia
A. S. Turberville: English Men and Manners in the 18th Century

Saturday, October 03, 2009

"The good turtle soup or merely the mock?"

On my mental jukebox today is "At Long Last Love." It just won't go away. Thank you, Cole Porter. Note to self: Don't forget that it's in the 18 September issue of the TLS that Martha Nussbaum's review of Nicola Lacey's book appears (Women, Crime, and Character: From Moll Flanders to Tess of the D'Urbervilles). It's not on line, but Nussbaum has very interesting things to say about Trollope, in particular. In this silver light, the monarch butterfly going from flower to flower on the lantana almost glows. The Navajos would call this a female rain.

October 1975 books read

This is a continuing transcription of an old record found not long ago.

Henry Fielding: Joseph Andrews
Henry Fielding: Shamela
Virginia Woolf: Mrs. Dalloway
Anne Bronte: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse
George Gissing: New Grub Street
Thomas Love Peacock: Nightmare Abbey
Thomas Love Peacock: Crotchet Castle
Virginia Woolf: The Waves
Virginia Woolf: Between the Acts

I had re-read Pamela the month before reading Shamela.

Friday, October 02, 2009

October 1974 books read

Theodore Dreiser: The Financier
Theodore Dreiser: The Titan
Honore de Balzac: The Black Sheep
Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Artist of the Beautiful (Mosses from an Old Manse)
Anthony Trollope: Ayala's Angel
Anthony Trollope: Sir Harry Hotspure of Humblethwaite
David Thomson: England in the Nineteenth Century (Peolican)
Oliver Goldsmith: The Vicar of Wakefield

In my mind, The Vicar of Wakefield is always associated with Little Women, as is The Pilgrim's Progress.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

October 1973 books read

Charles Dickens: Our Mutual Friend
Charles Dickens: Dombey and Son

These were both re-reads. I'm not sure when I first read Dombey and Son, but I know that my first reading of Our Mutual Friend was in the fall of 1963.