Saturday, June 12, 2010

Progresso - it's not just a soup

OK, I just cleared books off the comfy chair in the library (which looks like a bookstore explosion - books scattered everywhere in addition to ranged on shelves), sat down, and read the first chapter of Mark out loud in Italian.

I am sure there were numerous errors of pronunciation but I'm guessing 80% was correct enough. I had my new dictionary at hand but did not bother opening it. The text is too familiar not to know what is being said. Verb forms, prepositional phrases, and fine-tuning of vocabulary will come later, but it was a pleasant exercise. I shall let that suffice for self-assigned "homework" today.

The lavender is another shot from this evening (and because I believe you can never have too much lavender). In the yard are French, Spanish, and English lavender. Several new little plants of French lavender were put in along the south border this year. They are still quite small but that is how the lovely bush in the photo above began. I trust that in three years there will be masses of it.

It may be my favorite thing to water on a warm day because a moist scent of lavender rises in the air to refresh body and spirit. It is always gentle, never overwhelming. Ahhhhhhhh. This is true even watering just the greenery, before blossoms appear.

Sweet dreams, chipmunks.

--the BB

Nel giardino

A while ago I asserted that my Black Tartarian cherry tree had one lone cherry. I lied. It has at least four. Now that they are turning red they have become more visible. This is one of them (not the one pictured in the past). Actually, by the time I took this photo I had eaten that first one. It was not quite ripe, but close enough.

Fruit is ripening apace in the back yard. Here is a Santa Rosa plum.

And here is a Methley plum.

The older Elberta peach tree is sagging with fruit. I thinned further today.

And here is a China Doll rose blossom from this evening. When I bought that bush it was covered with blossoms. They passed and back in the heavy wind and freeze period the entire eastern side of the bush sort of went away. Very sad. But the bush is recovering, has lots of new growth, and is beginning to bloom again.

I am happy to say the most severely blasted rose bush is also recovering. I am encouraged by such resilience.

This weekend has some minor yard puttering. I have replaced some of the plants that have died. More to do. Lots of pruning and deadheading needs to be done. Thought given to propping up the peach branches (better than I have done with one branch so far).

Tonight I also got to just chat over the back yard fence with a neighbor. How very old-fashioned and pleasant. I like my neighbors and that is a good old-fashioned feeling too.

Life gets busier next Tuesday as I begin seven weeks of classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Beginning Italian. I have never completed a beginning Italian class before (though I started a conversational Italian class years ago). Admittedly, I am beyond the beginning stage but I need some solid grounding in basics. I am about to sit down and begin reading my Italian Bible. Methinks I will start with "Vangelo secondo Marco," the Gospel I know best.

Reading, of course, is one thing and articulating thoughts in a foreign language quite another. I recall that when I was a freshman in college, reading my French Bible taught me some very elegant French style. I may have been the only one of my classmates fluent in the imperfect subjunctive (which is not used in contemporary speech but, by God, I could do it - back then, anyway).

Alora, ho bisogno di leggere. Ciao, tutti.

--the BB

Running out of excuses

As a boy I rode my bicycle all over the neighborhood. This was before the days of clever bike acrobatics that one sees nowadays. Just flying like the wind, never having to think consciously of balance because the bike and I were one.

In my late twenties I did a lot of bicycling again around West Hollywood and environs.

Before leaving California I acquired a bicycle but barely rode it. In the move it was rather put out of joint, so to speak. So it has languished in the garage, waiting for some refurbishing.

Mimi and Jane and others will testify that I am a big bear. So I have a big bike. The very first disappointment when I bought it was that it does not fit in the back seat of my car, even with the front wheel removed. No small thing to get it to a repair shop then.

My BFF has a pickup, however, and took my bike to Stevie's Happy Bikes (yes, that's the real name) and got it all spiffed up. I still did not have a bike rack. Today I drove to Stevie's in Corrales and obtained a bike rack, stopped at BFF's and picked up the bicycle, and brought it home.

There he is: Jibril Mazashunk, ready to be ridden.

Jibril is one of the Arabic variants of Gabriel. My bicycle is named for the archangel. I no longer remember why unless it is because my car is named Rafael for another archangel. Mazashunk is a Lakota word for bicycle (iron dog). [You really did not expect my naming conventions to be uncomplicated, did you?]

One excuse for putting off the repairs was that I could only ride two blocks before facing hills that, gears notwithstanding, I am in no shape for. But now that 98th Street has been paved on the little stretch between open fields, I can theoretically go for many miles with nothing more than mild inclines.

Still, today was hot and very windy and I stayed inside. But I am running out of excuses.

Time to do something truly nice for my body and spirits.

--the BB

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Not very imaginative this evening

So here's some rioting redness for y'all.

Two days earlier it was a shy bud like this:

Sweet dreams.
--the BB

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Questa sera

Was it Shel who asked if these smelled as roses ought? Yes, they do, but evening is not the time to sniff them. Warmth and humidity bring out the aroma. Alas, when I photograph the bush the roses look a brownish pink. I adjusted the color to look like what my eyes see. Who you gonna believe, a photograph or my lying eyes?

The trumpet vine seems very happy this year. Summer has not officially started and it is blooming away.

I did not have the camera in hand when I went out to water the yard and the sky was in a thousand shades of lemon but here is tonight's sky after watering.

Why I live here.

--the BB

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Flower of the day

--the BB

Господи помилуй

Photo of dead oil-soaked bird on beach near Grand Isle, LA, by Carolyn Cole, Los Angeles Times, May 21, 2010. Detail of carpet page for the Gospel of John, Lindisfarne Gospels, by Bishop Eadfrith of Lindisfarne.

Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for those animals that are suffering; for all that are overworked and underfed and cruelly treated; for all wistful creatures in captivity that beat against the bars; for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened; for all that are in pain or dying; for all that must be put to death. We entreat for those who deal with them a heart of compassion, gentle hands, and kind words; that they may share thus the blessing of the merciful. For you, O lord, will save both human and beast, and great is your loving-kindness. Amen.

--the BB

Monday, June 07, 2010

It may take a long time but the truth will out

Marcy updates us:
But in what I’ve reviewed so far, the new documents reveal one important new detail. Page 44 of this PDF provides a mostly redacted record of the briefing CIA gave Porter Goss and Nancy Pelosi on Abu Zubaydah’s torture on September 4, 2002. We know–because both Goss and Pelosi have described this detail the same way–that CIA did not tell the House Intelligence leadership that it had already tortured Abu Zubaydah. CIA told Goss and Pelosi about waterboarding, but spoke of it as a technique that might hypothetically be used in the future, not something that had been used 83 times on one detainee the prior month.


Assuming CIA’s own documentation is accurate (always a big assumption, given the CIA), then Jose Rodriguez–listed as D/CTC–is the one who gave Goss and Pelosi that deceptive briefing.

Jose Rodriguez went on to participate in destroying evidence of torture that should have been briefed to Congress. And these documents prove (again, presuming CIA’s documents are accurate) that Jose Rodriguez was deceiving Congress about torture right from the start.

Imagine my surprise.

Those who claimed loudly that Congress was briefed may now kindly go away and STFU.

--the BB

Let the harvest begin!

Yes, I know it is still way too early in the season... but you see that red cherry tomato in the photo below? I just ate it.

Ahhhhhhh. I could have let it ripen another day or two but it was ready enough and I was ready enough.

As you can see, the eggplant is quite prolific this year. Baba ganoush city. And there's always imam bayeldi (if you are very good).

Zucchini blossoms. Hooray!

I also have a number of failed plants and lots of scorched rose leaves and sundry items that need to be yanked and tossed. But even so, lots of loveliness no matter where one turns. And all but a few roses have new leaves coming out.

--the BB

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Following up

How could I use the line in the post below and not add this?

I had to use Ethel Merman's version, the classic.

Stand up on your lazy feet and sing: Hallelujah!

--the BB

Blow, Gabriel, blow!

If your day, or evening, needs to be jazzed up a bit, these trumpet vines are for you.

--the BB

So butch I can't stand myself

As long-time readers know, I bought a workbench and a fancy schmancy toolbox a few months ago. Well, today - on a day slated to reach 102 degrees F. - I finally unpacked and assembled the workbench. That part was a bit awkward but not too challenging. Then came the time to get it turned over and upright. Mind you, it is eight feet long, the top is hardwood, and the legs and cross support are steel. It took all my size and leverage to do it, but it is now in place. One more corner of the garage taken from chaos to a semblance of order.

Here it is, ladies and gentlemen, critters and friends.

Oh, the starting point today is that this corner was full of cardboard that needed to be recycled, so I had to cut up boxes until my recycling bin is full and then I could unpack this puppy.

Is this tool box one sexy beast or what?

Before you get too impressed with all that shiny black and chrome, you should know that it comes with a flannel-lined cosy.

I remember when the most macho men in West Hollywood all wore flannel shirts. There's an analogy in there somewhere. *snerk*

Time to run off to a dinner party. Laterz!

--the BB