Thursday, February 28, 2013

More shopping-bag reminders of the past

In addition to those sacks earlier unearthed for reuse before they disintegrate, we have found sacks that remind us of additional Austin establishments that are no more: TravelFest and Bookstop (before it was bought by Barnes & Noble). We used to find maps and travel books of all kinds at TravelFest, and Bookstop, along with Congress Avenue Books, stocked more periodicals than can be found anywhere in town today.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Shopping bags of yesteryear

We're saving our paper sacks until we see how the new city ordinance works out. Paper sacks are preferable, anyhow, for most types of reuse. We're not hopeful on that count; H-E-B is handing out free plastic sacks that are said to be the ones that people will be buying for 75 cents each, come the new dispensation on March 1. They are like square plastic envelopes but with two handles; they have no gores or any bottom on which to set them. Anyhow, among the items unearthed and used as trash receptacles are large sacks from the Fitting Stool (four locations once, we recall), Shoe Boxes, The Toggery (four locations also, we remember; the slogan was "distinctive stores for men"), and the fabulous Slax (also recalled to have four locations, including one at Twin Oaks Center on South Congress). Slax was the go-to place for many items, among them manly jumpsuits for weekend yard work and also guayabera shirts. It was always a pleasure to talk with Mr. Samuelson. These are just some of the memories found in a sack of sacks.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Gifts of the day

Mack's yard is brightened by more and more Carlton daffodils. Some of the loquat fruits are ripening, changing from green to gold. There will be Dutch iris flowers soon; the fatness and thickening that signal the appearance of buds are making a promise. It's too soon to tell which colors will appear first. There are now three colors of blue Dutch hyacinth and two colors of pink ones. Each day, the two nasturtium varieties that are blooming give us at least one new flower. There are more and more blooms on the pea vines. Neighbors report the presence of flocks of cedar waxwings. Some years they visit us, but not yet this time around.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Double happiness

That's Erlicheer, the double narcissus that was open today for the first time this year. The air is scented with fragrance from narcissi and hyacinths.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Moving right along with the season

The flowers of anemone blanda are profuse this year, both wild and the slightly larger cultivated versions. We were happy to hear a rooster crowing this morning for the first time in a while. One orange nasturtium is bright beside the gate. Without being flaunting King Alfreds, Carlton daffodils provide a handsome yellow presence, now opening all over the yard. Nothing was stolen for a Valentine bouquet this year.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Now making their first appearance this season

This morning brought the first Ice Follies, plus the first leucojums ("snowflakes") and flowers all over the bare branches of two of the redbud trees. The hardy amaryllises with the striations are holding up well. There are more of them now, and they draw admiration from passers-by.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Flower power

What parts of the yard aren't scented by narcissi are offering an aura of hyacinth. Five types of narcissus are delighting us right now: paperwhite forced long ago indoors in pots, Montopolis narcissi with many blooms on a stalk and tiny bubble-like cups that are yellow, and an all-white mystery narcissus that's not either of the first two, along with Avalanche and Minnow. Near the ornamental pear tree are the finest of blue hyacinths; in front are two pink ones already. There are blue wood hyacinths on the oak motte. There are two Flower Record flowers out front that nobody has picked yet, perhaps because they arrived before Valentine's Day. In the front yard are a type of amaryllis (hippeastrum) new to us, picked up on impulse at Wheatsville; they are solid coral on the top petals and striated with cream on the lower petals, very showy. The first old-fashioned ornamental allium flowers have appeared. We continue to enjoy milkweed blooming in pots, both the all-yellow variety and the red-orange and yellow ones. They are very attractive to the butterflies that appear on the warmer days. One trailing nasturtium in a pot has survived in a sheltered location and is now in continuous bloom, offering strongly golden flowers striated with red-orange. Geraniums that survived the summer in pots have now revived and are in constant and profuse bloom. We enjoy our violas for color and our cyclamen for the scent as well as color. Tomorrow should bring our first example of Ice Follies. Lettuce is ornamental in pots, at least that left undisturbed by the large armadillo that visits at least once a week to root in pots and lift up parts of our only hitherto prospering portion of lawn. Leaves are beginning to come down from the live oaks; some still cling to the other oaks. Cold has visited us intermittently this winter and one effect is that the fruits of the loquats will be few but large.