Sunday, January 29, 2012

New floral arrivals

Today brought four stalks of blue hyacinths on the oak motte and two Geranium narcissus flowers near the gate to Mack's yard. We haven't checked yet, but it does seem that flowers are arriving in an odd order this year. There are now two red anemones and one blue one, too many anemone blanda flowers to count, too many Montopolis narcissus flowers to count, and more and more Little Marvel flowers and a few pea pods forming. Late this afternoon we saw a question mark butterfly. Milkweeds continue to be consumed by monarch caterpillars, which eat the seed pods but seem to leave the flowers themselves alone.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Out of order

These new arrivals seem to be blooming earlier than usual: Chinese sacred lilies, one black-eyed Susan, and one red anemone. There are more and more Little Marvel pea blossoms and Montopolis narcissi. Nasturtiums have germinated nicely this time around. The calendula continues to be spectacular and is a great attraction for honeybees. We find new larvae of gulf fritillary and monarch butterflies every day, consuming passion vine and milkweed respectively. There are not yet any Ice Follies daffodils.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Bucking and blooming and sprouting

There's no bucksaw in this household, but a crosscut pruning saw with champion-style teeth worked just as well for preparing fallen limbs to be placed at the curb in a week for the City's "large brush collection." Not having a sawbuck or even a sawhorse, I used two plastic stacking chairs as a makeshift substitute. When I went to wipe off stray sawdust, I found that Austin air is dirtier than it has ever been. It does get filthier each year. Soon, we'll be just like industrial towns before the federal clean-air legislation; we'll need to clean everything indoors and out at least four times a year to get rid of the sticky black residue. We continue to enjoy paper white narcissi and related varieties. Montopolis narcissus is almost ready to burst forth, with many, many bud stalks to be seen and more every day. We are enjoying Avalanche and Grand Primo. Everything so far apart from the paper whites are not to be seen most years until after Ice Follies flowers have opened (usually just in time to be stolen on Valentine's Day or its eve). Other blooms visible now are a few lantana flowers in sheltered spots, along with orange calendula, pink oxalis, and yellow and yellow-and-orange asclepias, all in pots. This morning we found caterpillars of gulf fritillary butterflies in the passionvine and of monarch butterflies in the asclepias. We are enjoying various lettuces grown in pots; they're highly ornamental and also very tasty. Other flowers are Little Marvel peas. We were surprised to find volunteer clockvines (thunbergia alata) in one pot. Purplehearts are blooming. So is anemone blanda, and we've seen one bud on a florist's anemone. At least three kinds of species tulips have sent forth leaves. It's too soon to tell what other spring bulbs are making an appearance. We have no good maps and the squirrels move everything anyhow.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sarkozy-Merkel and plastic stacking chairs

I was entertained by the very first photographs of Sarkozy and Merkel together, and I still am. Lately, I find that other people enjoy them just as much. Some publication (I forget which) even predicted in a joking way that they'd run away together in 2012. I'm also fascinated by the way that plastic stacking chairs have found their way around the world and can be seen in photographs taken in the most remote places. The most popular ones are those with arms. The first ones I ever saw were Grosfillex ("commercial resin"), perhaps the original style, and Ace Mart Restaurant Supply always kept them in stock. Similar chairs have been photographed on every continent in every sort of situation. They don't stand up well to direct sunlight if the temperatures are torrid, but they're all very versatile and quite comfortable. Their light weight and "stackability" are wonderful features. Small stacking tables are sometimes to be found, and they make fine footstools.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Monopoly favorites, in order of preference

Flatiron, opera hat, cannon, racing car, Scottish terrier, high-top shoe, and battleship. The first three listed are much greater favorites than those following. Those are the favorites from the current set. Where available, the thimble and the wheelbarrow are favorites, also--one and two.