Tuesday, December 20, 2011


In the course of a few days, the leaves on the ornamental pear tree turned dark red, bright red, and then golden. Yesterday, they began to fall; today, nearly all are down. The pecan tree has shed its leaves late. The fall began a few days ago and last night's wind and rain have brought nearly all leaves to the ground. The redbuds and roses of Sharon lost theirs last week, as did Turk's cap and lantana plants. Four o'clock plants have collapsed to the ground. There are larvae of gulf fritillary on the passion vines, which remain green. Mockingbirds continue to prospect for lantana berries. Honeybees remain busy in the loquat flowers and there are many more to pollinate. Other than loquats, only potted milkweeds (asclepias of two varieties) remain in bloom. We had thought that all hummingbirds had departed about three weeks ago, but saw a male black-chinned hummingbird in the yard on Thursday. There have been ruby-crowned kinglets among the loquats. Nothing has been brought indoors permanently yet. We'll preserve some potted chiles and wheel in some giant houseplants eventually. We are finding new shoots of anemone, hollyhock, various kinds of narcissi, daffodils, and jonquils, ranunculus, sweet peas, rain lilies, hyacinths, Dutch irises, calendulas, and mysteries. At Wheatsville, we've picked up a few straggler packets of bulbs put up by the Southern Bulb Company.

Monday, December 19, 2011

RQOTD: random questions of the day

(1) After seeing Joseph Schildkraut in the movie "The Tell-Tale Heart" (not seen in years and years) and realizing that he must have been a stage and perhaps silent-movie actor, I ask this question: "What was the career trajectory of Joseph Schildkraut" and what was his later career in particular? (2) After listening to a great many recordings by David Lee Garza 7 Los Musicales and realizing the number of hits over the years that included vocalist Marcus Orozco and several of his compositions, I ask: "What other vocalist or vocalists have sung with the group?" (3) After beginning to reread "Tales from Shakespeare" by Charles and Mary Lamb for the first time in a great many years, I ask "In what year were these published?" As to question number 1, Joseph Schildkraut did work for a long, long time, according to Imdb. The Tell-Tale Heart might as well have been silent. The most interesting answer to item number 2 is that the vocalist who sounded like Emilio Navaira was Emilio Navira. The answer to number 3 is 1807. The book in which these are now being read was printed to order and also includes retellings by E. Nesbit, which I've never read and never knew existed. I look forward to reading them for the first time. Also included is a little concordance of Shakespeare quotations by topic, with no credit given.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A skim of ice

The creatures' water bowls are lightly iced over this morning, not frozen solid, and the ones on the south side of the house have thicker ice than those on the north side. It's a good thing that we thought to bring tomato seedlings indoors last evening. We may be sorry that we didn't do the same thing for tiny pots of violas. It's likely that four o'clocks will have collapsed by the end of the day. Before last night, despite all the warnings about cold temperatures, the only damage had been to one hyacinth bean, in a hanging pot. We'll know more by tomorrow about any damage suffered this time around. Flowers still looking fine are cosmos, fennel, a tithonia, milkweed in pots (two kinds of asclepias), pink oxalis, and some calendulas. All in-ground seedlings, including hollyhocks and everything else, seem to be fine. On the north side of the house, various plants that winter indoors but that are still outdoors seem to have suffered no damage. Even potted basil appears just as it did yesterday. Lantana plants in some places may be affected around the edges of the leaves. Mockingbirds have been depending heavily on their berries this year. Loquats appear to be unaffected; on them some fruits are in formation, and the flowers continue to attrct clouds of honeybees. Peas and sweet peas continue to flourish; whether various lettuces are in good shape remains to be seen. Yesterday, pecan and fig leaves began falling in good earnest. Monarch butterflies have been gone for about a week and a half ago. Two stalks of paperwhite narcissus have been open for three days. Their perfume is strong, but loquat flowers are still outdoing them.