Friday, January 23, 2009


In case you missed it in the Spaceman, the news ain't good.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wabi Sabi, Maybe Baby

Laguna Gloria in winter

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day has come and gone at Aurora with little to report beyond stunted roses. Austin’s protracted drought dovetails unavoidably with the economic meltdown in fostering doomy regret about the orgiastic spending on plants I’ve undertaken in my two years here at this garden. And even xeriscape plants seem a little like Marie Antoinette’s cake at this point. What, after all, can this environment sustain beyond prickly pear and yucca?

So: new plan. Shabby-genteel ruin. The swept yard of the Mexican cottage. Ramshackle debris of leaf-mold and bare branches. One or two ancient and bearded palms rustling in the apocalyptic wind. Embracing the flawed in the natural world and finding beauty in the tarnished, the tattered, and the burnished with age.

Well, kinda anyway. As soon as I get some clumping bamboo and a Reve d’Or rose, I’ll be set.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Recycling Rant

Is anyone else living in City of Austin as dissappointed as I am about the single-stream recycling monstrosity? This thing must weigh 25lbs EMPTY. I know for a fact my 91-year old neighbor Bertha is not going to be dragging this to the curb anytime soon (despite her impressive exploits with the concrete birdbath). Once the dumpster is full of its every-other-week pile of stuff, who knows what the gross tonnage could be.
On the other hand, it's hard to imagine ever filling this trash bin up, short of hosting a beer bash every week. I have barely approached one-sixth of its capacity since I've had it. Admittedly I'm a single person, but I don't remember filling up the old blue bin very often even when I was running a 4-person household. And the City, in its infinite wisdom, will not provide a smaller single-stream bin--one size must fit all.
Plus, there's something intuitively harebrained about the single-stream concept. I was perfectly content with and capable of separating my paper, glass, and plastic. It seems like this division of labor made perfect sense: it forced us to reckon with our own recycling destinies, consider the volume of our personal output, and take some responsibility for its disposal. With this new process the City has robbed us of a noble feel-good pastime and passed the sorting onto machines or people which must incur costs we taxpayers will have to pay for. How can this be good?
One final carp: the color of the bin. Who chose this toilet-bowl blue? Is there anyone who yearns to see this color EVER? Not found in nature, this blue is a visually demoralizing eyesore. At least the regular trash bins are a neutral gray, beige, or army green. One can hide them discreetly behind a/c units, bushes, garage walls, etc. Not so the screaming blue of the single-stream bin. And being so large, the bin is more of a challenge to store in an out of the way spot and so more likely to be visible in side yards and utility areas. The bins are an unsightly blight in our neighborhoods, yards, and streets.