Sunday, June 22, 2014

Requesting quiet

This afternoon I went to the grocery store (Food Pavilion) and while I was shopping I noticed that the piped-in store music was instrumental and melodic, older tunes that I recognized but that were from my parents' era, sort of big-bandish. It was almost like Muzak, the store music of my youth. I liked it.

There are times when I'm in a grocery store and the music is so pounding that I think, Please. We're rocking out a bit too much, here.

Coincidentally, I recently read an article about supermarket music that linked to a much longer article by Mark Steyn about Alan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind. It contains this paragraph:

But Bloom is writing about rock music the way someone from the pre-rock generation experiences it. You’ve no interest in the stuff, you don’t buy the albums, you don’t tune to the radio stations, you would never knowingly seek out a rock and roll experience—and yet it’s all around you. You go to buy some socks, and it’s playing in the store. You get on the red eye to Heathrow, and they pump it into the cabin before you take off. I was filling up at a gas station the other day and I noticed that outside, at the pump, they now pipe pop music at you. This is one of the most constant forms of cultural dislocation anybody of the pre-Bloom generation faces: Most of us have prejudices: we may not like ballet or golf, but we don’t have to worry about going to the deli and ordering a ham on rye while some ninny in tights prances around us or a fellow in plus-fours tries to chip it out of the rough behind the salad bar. Yet, in the course of a day, any number of non-rock-related transactions are accompanied by rock music. I was at the airport last week, sitting at the gate, and over the transom some woman was singing about having two lovers and being very happy about it. And we all sat there as if it’s perfectly routine. To the pre-Bloom generation, it’s very weird—though, as he notes, “It may well be that a society’s greatest madness seems normal to itself.” Whether or not rock music is the soundtrack for the age that its more ambitious proponents tout it as, it’s a literal soundtrack: it’s like being in a movie with a really bad score.

I don't like loudness in general. I dislike it in restaurants when music plays so loudly that you have to bellow at the friends with whom you dine. It's not just loud music; I like less noise in general. I commute about half and hour each direction to work, and I generally don't turn on the radio. Even audio recordings of books get on my nerves after a while--this voice going on and on.

So I guess my attitude toward background music is: If you must have it, then let it be as unintrusive as possible.

Friday, June 20, 2014


This evening I planted some things. First, three snapdragons by the mailbox post.

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I saw these at Rite-Aid a  couple days ago, and they were such a beautiful glowing red color I couldn't resist. Some of them were flopping over, but I chose the three most upright ones there.

Then, two yellow rudbeckia.

My sister-in-law has some flowers much like this that she calls "brown-eyed Betty." I'm not sure mine are exactly the same, but they're close.

Next, I planted this purple salvia splendens.

I chose this one for its intense color, too.

All those were near the mailbox. Next, alongside the east side of the house, I planted two ornamental grass clumps of a kind called "sedge."

They were super-duper root-bound, so I hope they settle in okay. I tried to "stimulate" the roots (i.e., tear them loose) before I planted them, but they were really packed.

Finally, I planted five "woolly" sage plants by the guest room window.

In the spring, I had a big bush torn out of that place. It was a pretty bush, but I didn't want the window completely covered up, which it was doing.

Tomorrow I have guests coming, including my elderly parents, who both walk with canes, so I want to trim these bushes that are making the steps into an obstacle course.

However, I needed a break, so I came inside, drank lots of water, and edited these pictures, looked at Facebook, and so on until now it's too dark to work outside, so I'll have to do the trimming tomorrow. Meanwhile, there are plenty of tasks inside that I can do, most notably loading the dishwasher full of the dishes that are currently crowding my counter and sink. The wonderful thing about my home (dis)organization is that if you ever want to do housework, there are always plenty of jobs ready to do.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. But sometimes they invent goofy ones. By doing lots of mental arithmetic (at which I stink), I've estimated that my dog may very well be 10 years old. Incredible!

[Reminds me of a Jeeves/Wodehouse snippet:

"Incredulous!" I said.

"I believe you mean 'incredible,' sir," said Jeeves.

Or something like that.]*

Anyway, my dog has, thus late in life, developed a taste for tissue. Bathroom tissue. Facial tissue. Or, for something with a bit more roughage, paper towels and napkins. It started when he used to chew up such items when they were infused with food, oil, or nameless substances, but now he doesn't care whether the paper is flavored or plain, he just likes to chew on it and ingest shreds of it (evidence of which he later presents while we're on our walks).

But here's the tricky part. He attempts, sometimes successfully, to pull kleenex out of the box. And he has learned to unroll toilet paper. I may be sitting in the living room or kitchen, and I'll hear him nosing around down the hallway, and when I walk there I find a long strip of toilet paper extending from the spindle in the bathroom across the hall into the library or my bedroom.

On the one hand, for a dog, it takes some intelligence to figure out how to pull tissues from the pop-up box and unroll toilet paper from the hanger. On the other hand, both are darn silly behaviors, consistent with a certain level of stupidity.

Smart or stupid? You decide.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Highly accomplished

Good weekend. I planted a good number of flowers. Here are the striped petunias in the new plant hanger, both of which I bought at Van Wingerden's last weekend:

Isn't that pretty?

I put these wall flowers on either side of my door. They tend to grow in odd shapes, but the flowers are delightfully fragrant:

And I put these gorgeous pansies in a worthy pot:

You can also see the mowed lawn in the background, which is another accomplishment. Yay, me.

And I hung up this and some other plaques or whatever they may be called:

All that work was on Saturday. I have been having a quiet Sunday. I sat out on the deck for a while this afternoon but kept dozing off, so came inside to sleep more comfortably on the couch. Now it's evening. It looks kind of windy and dark outside. I wonder if it will rain. I was out walking my dog around the yard about an hour or so ago, and the air temperature is warm; however, I have all the doors and windows shut because the wind puts stuff in the air that kicks off my allergies.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Early in the a.m.

A slightly overcast morning. I'm awake early, which is nice. I woke up naturally. Yesterday and the day before, I was so sleepy during my commute that I went to bed early both evenings. So now I must be caught up. I'm having a cup of coffee in the extra half hour I now have. A quiet morning with coffee. What could be better?

Perhaps this evening I will finally mow the lawn. We've been having such lovely sunny dry weather that I am safe to procrastinate so, being tired, that's what I've done the last two evenings after work. I've intended to mow but then not done so. No rain is in the forecast until Sunday, so I can wait as long as until Saturday evening. No pressure.

Time, time, time. Everything takes time, and time is limited.

A little later: What was I raving about when I said it was overcast? When I went out to walk the dog, the sky was blue from end to end, not a trace of cloud. My impression of darkness when I looked out the window must have just been that it was still so early that there were shadows on the lawn.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


This evening I finally finished cleaning out the little pool and set up the manneken pis. It was too dark to take a picture by the time I finished, but light enough to work. This is a delightful time of year, close to summer solstice, when the days are so long that I can work outside until 9:00 p.m.

I cleaned the pool, wiping it out with vinegar water to get rid of any mold or whatever might be there. Then I filled it with fresh, clear water and set up the little peeing-boy fountain. Plugged it in, and everything worked great right off. I had swept the pavers around the pool, and I planted some yellow begonias and white bacopa in a shallow pot and set it next to the water. I found my metal frog and placed it in position by the edge of the pool, and I re-hung the strawberry basket, which I had removed while I was working there (so I wouldn't knock it around with my head).

There's something particularly sweet about the sound of water splashing at dusk.