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Annie in Austin
Welcome! As "Annie in Austin" I blog about gardening in Austin, TX with occasional looks back at our former gardens in Illinois. My husband Philo & I also make videos - some use garden images as background for my original songs, some capture Austin events & sometimes we share videos of birds in our garden. Come talk about gardens, movies, music, genealogy and Austin at the Transplantable Rose and listen to my original songs on YouTube. For an overview read Three Gardens, Twenty Years. Unless noted, these words and photos are my copyrighted work.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, September 15, 2009

The Cenizo/Leucophyllum frutescens (also known as Barometer Bush) did not lie this time!
Annieinaustin, Cenizo
A genuine rain started with gentle soaking drops on Friday morning - turning into a downpour that temporarily flooded the Secret Garden on SaturdayAnnieinaustin, rain in Secret Garden By Sunday afternoon the torrents had become a mist again, leaving just over six-and-one-half inches to refresh the plants and calm down the gardener. Other plants may respond to the rain in a few days, but the first batch looks quite patriotic! Annieinaustin, Foo dog with Oxblood liliesOxblood Lilies/Rhodophiala bifida add red to the garden - after MSS of Zanthan gave these symbols of old Austin to me a couple of years ago I planted them in small clumps front and back, not taking any chances on one location. Here's her definitive post on them. They're up in five different places so far, with two patches still question marks. I think these definitely qualify as what May Dreams Carol calls a Blogalong-Passalong! Annieinaustin, Oxblood lilies
White comes from the Hibiscus moscheutos 'Blue River II'. This flower is not fully formed - maybe it was too dry when the bud developed? I can see some buds left so there are more chances to have the dinner-plate size flowers this plant can produce
Annieinaustin, Blue River II Hibiscus
White also comes from Garlic Chives/Allium tuberosum - complete with decorative bee:
Annieinaustin, garlic chives and beeMore garlic chives with an interesting insect I'd never noticed before - it took some time, but I found similar insects on What's That Bug that were identified as being Soldier Flies in the genus Odontomyia
Annieinaustin, Soldier Fly on garlic chivesWe've had the Blues all summer - the blue Plumbago auriculata didn't seem to mind the heat & drought since it got those precious last drops squeezed out whenever the hose was rolled up and because it's sheltered from afternoon sun by the house wall.
Annieinaustin, Plumbago auriculata
I handwatered the blue Salvia guaranitica and this Salvia 'Black & Blue" regularly to keep the flowers and their nectar coming - we see the hummingbirds every day and Salvias are their favorite
Annieinaustin, Salvia Black and BlueThe Brugmansia should be a light yellow but looks almost white after being bleached and drenched, holding tattered petals over a small green garden spider
Annieinaustin, Brugmansia with spiderNear the brugmansia one of the Amarcrinum lilies sent up a fragrant stalk
Annieinaustin, Pink AmarcrinumIn front more Oxblood lilies bloom along with slender white rainlilies, the pink rainlilies/Zephyranthes 'Labuffarosea' and some native yellow Habranthus tubispathus/Copper Lilies... I delayed this post trying to get photos of the pink & yellow & white rainlilies but none of the pictures came out...maybe next year!

The front yard looks pretty bad - until the Divas of the Dirt come and rescue it later this month you will see only close-ups!
Annieinaustin, Evolvolus Blue DazeThis Evolvolus 'Blue Daze' in the Pink Entrance Garden got extra crispy a couple of times when I forgot to water the hanging basket. But a good drink uncurled the leaves and made it bloom again

Annieinaustin, Duranta erectaThe Duranta erecta/Blue Skyflower in the same bed might have produced more flowers with more sun, or it might fried up and had no flowers at all. These blooms are enough for me.

Annieinaustin, Blackfoot daisies & rainlilyThis little vignette in the front bed with the birdbath almost looks like a Northern Spring instead of September in Texas, doesn't it? The Blackfoot daisies/Melampodium leucanthum still count as daisies, and the unopened pink rainlily looks a little like a tulip if you squint your eyes, with lavender-colored Lantana filling in for rock cress or woodland phlox.

Move along to the back now - nothing else up here to see!
Annieninaustin, sunflowerThe weight of the 8-foot native sunflower made it fall over when the rain turned the soil soft. I couldn't ignore the roots pulled part way out of the ground - too many goldfinches love this big weedy flower full of seeds. I stood it up, used an extra metal shepherd's hook as a stake and stepped it in again around the base - hope it works.

Along the South fence the bulb bed is bright with Red Oxblood lilies
Annieinaustin, Oxblood Lilies in bulb bedA midnight look at the Moonflower vine/Ipomoea alba - with the leaves invisible in the dark, it looks like a White flying saucerAnnieinaustin, Moonflower vine
And this may be the last GBBD of 2009 for the Blue Butterfly Pea/Clitoria ternatea

Annieinaustin, Blue Butterfly Pea
I'm grateful to Carol of May Dreams Garden, the inventor of Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for giving us a chance to show off our flowers...and I'm grateful for rain, and soon I hope to be grateful to the Divas of the Dirt because my turn for 2009 is coming up. There's a lot to do before they come, so I'll catch up with blogs and blooming day posts in a week or so.
May your garden make you happy this month, too.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Snapping After Midnight

Although it didn't fall in my neighborhood, other parts of Austin got a little rain yesterday. Closer to San Antonio, Victory Gardener Pamela Price rejoiced on Twitter that 4" of precious water arrived at her garden. Send some showers in this direction! Temperatures are hovering closer to 90°F than 100°F this week. We need only one more day over 100°F to tie the all-time record and 2 to smash it. Now public wishes for one more heat spike have popped up all over Twitter. Or as MSS of Zanthan put it, "We've come this far and !#$#@* we want the record."
Couldn't have said it better myself! We do want it!

Even though some of the garden is wheat-colored, just a little hand-watering was enough to make my favorite annual combination of Moonflower vine and Blue Butterfly Pea climb to the top of the obelisk and bloom again.

AnnieinAustin, Moonflower on ObeliskI went out after midnight and snapped this photo of them entwined. In past years they've bloomed through October - always welcome, but never so much as in this year when usually dependable plants have died or have no flowers.

My daughter Lilly wondered how big the moonflowers are but the tape measure couldn't be found. I held the lovely flower in my big ol' peasant hand - the edge of the petals almost seemed to ripple in the dark, like a butterfly instead of a flower.
AnnieinAustin, Moonflower in my hand

Did anyone else think of Patsy Cline when you read the post title? September 8th was the day she was born - here's a video clip of her singing "Walking After Midnight". I'll be humming that tune next time the camera and I take a midnight stroll.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Looking for Julie and Julia

Looking for Julie and Julia was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

Read at your own risk- POSSIBLE SPOILERS (and some Bad Language)

The Meryl Streep movie Julie & Julia made me too curious about Julie Powell & Julia Child. Now only a post the length of a term paper can corral my thoughts and contain the links.

MSS of Zanthan Gardens and I were at the Alamo Drafthouse South for the first show of Julie & Julia on opening day in Austin. The Drafthouse is always fun, the crowd was receptive and the turkey club sandwich I'd ordered in a nod to the era was quite good.

The movie starts in 1948 as Julia and Paul Child, married less than two years, drive in an elegant automobile to Paul's new post with the United States Information Service Department. During their five years in Paris, Julia first learned to eat the French way, and then decided to learn how to cook the food she loved to eat. Julia's book, My Life in France, written by Julia with Paul's great-nephew Alex Prud'homme, and letters written by Paul to his brother Paul Child were credited as the base for this part of the movie. I haven't bought My Life in France yet, and wonder whether their real Paris home could have been anywhere near as lovely as in the movie.

I was a goner from scene one and the best part of the movie for me was the tender, humorous, supportive and loving relationship between Julia and Paul - Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci seemed so perfect! Julia's sister Dorothy is played by wonderful Jane Lynch and there's a scene at the train station where Paul beams as Julia rushes to meet Dorothy.

Just thinking about any scene with the two sisters makes me smile! Chopping onions can make me smile! Next time I cook manicotti they will make me laugh!

Because of PBS, we've been able to watch Julia on television for decades - along with picking up cooking ideas, I absorbed the belief that Julia was civilized and generous and loyal. Julia's life in Paris seemed even more civilized and calm when contrasted with the contemporary tale of Julie Powell, afraid to turn 30, riding NY subways to work.

All that I knew about Julie on August 7th was the stuff of press notices - she was a New York blogger who cooked all the recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking over the course of a single year. Local news included the information that Julie is originally from Austin and that her parents live here. The Julie in Nora Ephron's movie is unhappy, emotional, at loose ends, loves her patient, encouraging husband Eric, is worn out by her job and is very self-absorbed. That part of the movie starts in August 2002 with Julie working in a cubicle for a government agency planning the memorial for the Twin Tower property while her friends put together multi-zillion dollar deals and get books published.

When her husband Eric gives her the idea to start the blog it seemed pretty real to me, although she didn't rewrite everything 5 times. On that day at the Alamo it was easy for MSS and me to relate to a character who was a blogger, especially one who seemed truly serious about writing. We laughed as the movie Julie creates her blog, and felt her thrill as she receives the first comments. The date of 2002 fell a year after MSS started Zanthan Gardens and a year before I started the original Diva of the Dirt site - long ago in blog years.

Paris in 1948 looked exotic and beautiful...Ephron has loaded Julia's story with mid-20th century hats & dresses and postures, elegant rooms, cigarettes, private dinners, restaurants, architecture, furniture, cocktails and guilt-free dining.
For me- who lives in a suburban development in the middle of Texas - the scenes of city life in a super-grubby apartment over a pizza parlor in Long Island City, Queens, New York seemed almost as exotic as the Paris settings.

The style and energy of Parisian life also make Julie's post-9-11 life seem even more drab and dreary in comparison, with a few scenes that seemed right out of Joe Versus the Volcano. (a movie written and directed by the same John Patrick Shanley who wrote & directed Doubt, starring Meryl Streep & Amy Adams, thus proving that everything is connected somehow.) I was glad Nora Ephron allowed both Julie and Julia to rejoice in and appreciate their loving, supportive spouses, something that should be done by all of us who have better partners than we deserve.

Julia's story was full of real people like her cowriters Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle (loved Linda Emond as Simca), her editor Judith Jones, her father, and her sister Dorothy, who did marry Ivan Cousins (in June, 1951 in New York according to a genealogy website).

Nora Ephron's treatment of the two stories gave us an entertaining and emotionally engaging couple of hours with interesting actors, fun sets, stunning food, nifty conversations, a few digs at pretension, sight gags, snappy lines and situations leading to punchlines. I didn't expect great accuracy from this kind of movie, but thought it could be fun to try figuring out what is based in fact and which things are Nora, Nora, Nora.

Again... the movie was fine - this post is not about changing it, or improving it, or telling Nora Ephron what she should have done! But sorting and making lists and finding links to what was probably true and what ended up in the script is a fun game and I wanted to play that game.

I still intend to get My Life in France and Julie/Julia and at least browse Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I read that the movie-tie in version of My Life in France lacks photographs that were in the original book. Even without the books, there were plenty of articles and interviews about Julia, Julie, the project and the movie available online. Julia had many birthday interviews after she turned 80. Some of the data may be wrong, but patterns emerged and I've tried to figure out what is probably true.

Earlier this week I saw J & J with my husband Philo at the Gateway in the Arboretum. We'd enjoyed the pairing of Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in Doubt and I was sure he'd like this movie. I tried to guess which scenes would crack him up. For me it was even more enjoyable to watch Meryl and Stanley portray Julia and Paul Child at this second viewing, partly because I had more background information.

For example - those posed nude photos in the bathtub really were made for their friends. Beverly Levitt quotes Julia in a 90th birthday interview.
"My parents were outraged," she says with a laugh. "They thought we'd hired a photographer to come into our bathroom. They didn't know that all photographers have timers. It was the '50s and everyone was so prudish."

The official sources agree that Julie and Paul really were together in the OSS, he did have a reputation as a loverboy, they really did have reputations as genuine party people. Paul & Julia seemed to rejoice in and love the families of their brother and sister. I liked this interview with great-grand niece and namesake Julia Prud'homme, who played the bridge instructor in the movie. My fond impressions of Julia and Paul didn't change....but they deepened.

What did change was the way I felt about the Julie character the second time around. Amy Adams did a fine job with the part as written and with the lines she was given. But those big light eyes looking sincerely and adoringly at her idol now appear to be more Nora, Nora, Nora than Julie, Julie, Julie.

After seeing J & J the first time I'd found and read over most of the entire original blog of the Julie/Julia project and tried to read most of the comments...later posts have hundreds of comments and something in the comment posting format led to many duplicates.

Was the Julie in the blog anything like the Julie in the movie? In the movie, all we learn of her background are a few passing mentions of Amherst and her mother's voice on a phone, calling from Texas. In real life Julie is Austin-born and bred, her parents live here and I heard that her mom doesn't sound one bit like Oklahoman actress Mary Kay Place.

Eric Powell is played by Chris Messina from Vicky Cristina Barcelona. During the course of the year Julie & Eric go back & forth to Austin for visits and family events. Her parents and Eric's parents come to visit them in Long Island City, offering help, recreation and unsolicited advice - friends and members of the extended family encourage and comment and telephone. The blog is sprinkled with references to places in Austin - Mr Gatti's, Central Market, Three Amigos, Whole Foods.

Google "Julie Powell images" and you'll see that dark-haired, dark-eyed Julie doesn't look anything like Amy Adams ... she looks like an Austin smart-ass to me. Julie in the movie wonders tearfully if her 'occasional' swearing on the blog could have turned Julia off.... Julie of the blog drops F-bombs like apostrophes and has strong opinions on everything.

Julie in the movie calls Julia "adorable". Julie on her current blog, What Could Happen? says, "The trouble is, I would never say something like Isn’t Julia Child adorable? Julia Child, for chrissakes, this literal and figurative giant of a woman who changed the lives of thousands and the entire American culinary landscape ... adorable?"

In the movie, Julia and her sister Dorothy make allusion to their dislike of Pasadena Republicans and rue the McCarthy years... apparently all true. Julia was still outspoken about politics at the age of 90 when interviewed for MS Magazine. Movie-Julie doesn't have much to say about politics, but Julie on the Blog sure does - with opinions on elected officials and elections - national, Texan and New York.

In the movie Julie has a friend Sarah, played by the interesting Mary Lynn Rajskub. In another scene Julie meets three overachieving college friends for their traditional Cobb Salad lunch. It was a funny scene, but it didn't feel real and the friends could be the snobby rich friends in anyone's movie. The actress who played the dreadful Cassie is Vanessa Ferlito.

(I don't know Vanessa but when she was in the Tarrantino & Rodriguez movie Grindhouse, Philo & I were among a dozen or so people watching night filming of a scene in a parking lot on Burnet. While the special effects people worked on setting it up, Vanessa acted like a real person, coming over to the barrier, holding the baby of some fans, smiling at toddlers and speaking to their parents.)

Rather than having just one true friend 'Sarah', Blog Julie had a core of terrific friends like Helen & Emily & Lisa, who struggled with the undependable transit system to get to Long Island City, share food and support her.

I was glad to read that the Cobb salad friends are fictional! Here's what Julie said in a Slackerwood interview:
"People ... say things like 'I hated your friends with the Cobb salad.' There were no friends with the Cobb salad. That's Nora Ephron's invention...people are equating me with this fictional character. It's a little surreal, but you get used to that too."

In the movie, Julie and movie Eric move to an apartment over a Pizza Restaurant. Before the movers arrive movie Julie lets the cat out. While unpacking she sits on the floor looking glum. Months later, photogenic friends appear for dinner parties where hostess Julie produces perfectly cooked food from her hot apartment kitchen without even working up a sweat.

Real Julie and Eric do move to Long Island City, but that happens after the blog has started, the apartment is over a Greek Diner and Julie complains about the lack of pizza places in Long Island City. They work to improve the apartment. From Julie's blog:

"My Eric and I had a bona-fide yuppie experience yesterday. We went over to our new Long Island City loft apartment to tear up the tile in the kitchen...After an hour and a half on our hands and knees with a chisel, we'd mostly gotten up the piece-of-shit beige linoleum and uncovered some older piece-of-shit-green tiling beneath... we hit wood! Not only that, but between the vinyl and the wood was some gorgeous, maybe 30s handpainted stuff with flowers and deco designs! Most of it was covered with tar and unsalvageable, but hey! Pretty exciting! We felt like really terrible archaeologists!!"

Movie Julie has the cat. Real Julie had cats plural, and she also has a snake named ZuZu. To feed the snake Julie goes shopping in Park Slope at "the mouse store". I'm having a lot of trouble imagining Amy Adams feeding mice to a snake.

Movie Julia Child strolls around Paris making friends with the purveyors of fresh meat, seafood and vegetables, and it looks like a dream - like a trip to the best Farmers Market in the world where you never think about what anything will cost.

Movie Julie Powell goes to Dean & Deluca, purchases her ingredients and then has Lucille Ball moments getting her loot home on the subway. She also has a few meltdowns when the cooking doesn't work out.

Real Julie and Real Eric work all day, then spend exhausting hours shlepping from store to store in search of the ingredients needed for the recipes. They complained about Dean and Deluca (shrimp for $24 a pound?) doing better at Jefferson Market & Fairway. Many of the recipes in the book call for kinds of meat that have to be ordered or searched for - veal bones for marrow, kidneys and giblets and gizzards, livers, calves foot, beef shins, mussels and squab, vegetables like celeriac & shallots - she needed truffles, arborio rice and semi-sweet chocolate, espresso powder, rum. She buys a goose and when she starts to cook it finds out the liver, a necessary item, is missing. There were failures and substitutions and many times she couldn't afford the exact ingredient or didn't have the right kitchen tool to follow Julia's instructions exactly. One of the items she tried to juggle in the actual overloaded subway incident was a live mouse for ZuZu.

The shopping part reflected some of my own experiences... going to 3 different grocery stores trying to get what I need for a recipe ... and I have a car! I can't imagine how exhausting it must have been to do this after work, traveling on the subways while carrying perishable foodstuffs. Hunter-gathering takes a hell of a lot of time in the real world.

Julie doesn't give the actual recipes, but the blog has space for blow-by-blow recitals of actual cooking processes. Sometimes the dishes do not turn out as well as they should - other times Julie describes their deliciousness so well you want to try the recipe. The complicated recipes took longer than expected and there were mounds of dirty bowls, pots and tools. Sometimes Julie came home from work and started cooking at 8, eating at 11:30Pm .... the 'saintly' Eric did most of the dishwashing and also cooked non-French food like Enchiladas on Spicy Thursdays. Her mom worried about her exhaustion and Julie was very sick at one point.

Like Eric, many people in our family have trouble with rich food. We laughed in recognition at the scene where Julie lies snoring while Eric pops antacid tablets like M & M's. There's payback when those who can't digest butterfat indulge in whole milk, sour cream, real whipped cream and butter, which is why we enjoy seeing Julia cook with butter but seldom use it.

That reminds me - the Butter Tribute at the Smithsonian was recounted in the blog on September 8, 2003. Julie wrote that she & Eric were worried about being caught bringing the butter into the exhibit containing Julia's kitchen. She added:
"... It was interesting to watch the little kids who came in watch the video that was running of Julia shows and interviews with other chefs about her. I can’t tell if it was just the hypnotic pull of television or what, but the kids actually watched it..."

That line brought to mind an image of my daughter age 4, recovering from a scary bout of bronchitis, wrapped up in a blanket in her little rocker. She watched Julia after lunch each day, rocking and giving the show complete attention - once turning to me to ask, "Is Julia CHILD a grown-up?"

Real Julie & Real Eric watch, discuss and quote TV, DVD's, and Netflix rentals including Family Guy, Extreme Makeover, Buffy, David Strathairn, Bollywood movies, the Austin-made Waking Life , Frances McDormand and Christian Bale in Laurel Canyon, True Romance, Mostly Martha, West Wing, X-Men, the Sopranos, Val Kilmer.

I read the blog in chunks of weeks and the timing for finding one post amused me... Philo & I had been watching episodes of a British comedy series called Manchild with Anthony Head. The very next day I read Julie's comments about Anthony Head's character on Buffy.

I'm very interested in seeing how the Julie/Julia Project was condensed into a book since I loved the blog comments and the interactions between Julie & her commenters and the commenters with each other. In both blog and movie, many of her readers and commenters sent Julie gifts of ingredients and some hit the Contribute button.

In that interview by Natalie Haughton, Julie talked about the difference between herself and the movie Julie and also touched on the whole JULIA HATES ME thing:

Q: What did you think of the movie and how you were portrayed by Amy Adams – was it accurate?

A: Yes and no. I thought it was a really lovely movie. Amy Adams is a wonderful actress, and I am a big fan. The characters were based on what's in the book. (Powell met Adams after the movie was filmed.) Amy is portraying Nora's version of me. Amy – Nora's Julie Powell – is a softer/nicer person who doesn't curse as much as I do. Nora made the kitchen as constricting as possible – it was smaller, but not as nasty (as my kitchen).

Q: What about the scene in the movie where Julia Child didn't like/approve your project?

A: A reporter had interviewed her and asked her about project. She said, "I know about the project, not interested in it," and was basically dismissive and had no comment. It was devastating. It's corny, but I had been living with "Julia" for a year, and the one I invented understood what I was doing. It was hurtful because I spent a year doing a tribute to her courage and generosity.
She changed me. When I picked up the book and decided to do the project, I thought I was just trying to learn how to cook French food. What I was getting from this book and the pages and her writing was this avocation of courage and pushing forward and daring me to do something I didn't think I could do. By the end of the year, by her example and cooking through the book, I had become more courageous.

More on that "Julia hated Julie thing" - when Judith Jones, the editor of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and a character in the movie was interviewed by Constance Droganes she said, "If they met I think Julia would have liked her. But given what we had to go on from the early blog I don't think Julia thought she was a serious cook. Secondly, you just didn't use swear words in cooking. Not where Julia was concerned," says Jones.

I've read speculation from many sources about what Julia would have thought of Julie... it was interesting to hear my own husband unknowingly echo some of them when he wondered whether Julia was turned off because she thought the MtAoFC was a gimmick for Julie to get famous.

I guess it's possible, but were blogs already considered a launching pad for writers back in 2002 when Julie started her blog? I'm not sure how many people read blogs then. Websites, yes - people like Harry Knowles and Ain't It Cool News had been recognized by the late 1990's as having influence, but I'm not so sure about blogs. Wouldn't the blog have been more focused if she'd planned it to be a book? Would she have cleaned up the language?

Julie claims not - she says this in the Slackerwood interview:

"When I started the blog, I didn't know what a blog was. I thought it was going to be for my mom to read. So by the time I had a readership, I had set this level of intimacy. I couldn't go back because I had readers, and they'd basically call bullshit on it. I'm really glad that it happened that way, that I didn't know what I was getting into because it was so important to the development of my tone and my voice as a writer. I don't know that I could do that now. If I started a blog for the first time now, I am inevitably going to hold stuff back. I still think I try to be honest as I can and upfront as I can be. Knowing that there are potentially millions of people reading --"

From my position in the middle generation between Julia and Julie, the theory that Julia didn't like Julie's blog because of the swearing seemed plausible. My mom and aunts and most women I know who were around before World War 2 could put-up with certain swear words - "damn" and "hell" and probably "bitch", possibly "bastard" and possibly a well-placed "shit". I've seen references to Julia Child herself saying, "Balls!", "Screw it" , the manicotti remark and possibly even giving the finger. But using "fuck" in the middle of a paragraph? I thought that would have been an almost insurmountable problem for many women.

But writer Russ Parsons doesn't think it was just the swearing - he knew Julia and claims that Julie's problems with the recipes seemed to demonstrate a lack of seriousness to Julia. His arguments are pretty good!

After the project had been in swing for a few months it did get noticed, and as she reached the home stretch in August 2003, Julie even allowed herself to joke that if her story were made into a movie, it should star Kate Winslet.

These numbers seem pretty solid: Julia McWilliams Child was born August 15, 1912, graduated from Smith in 1934, worked in advertising, did freelance writing and volunteer work for the Red Cross. She was 29 when the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor threw the USA into World War II. After she joined the OSS she met Paul Child and in September 1946, when she was 34, they were married. The Childs arrived in Paris where Julia met French food in 1948. Cooking school came later. She was 49 when Mastering the Art of French Cooking was published.

After reading so much about Julie and Julia I liked both of them even more. And it's impossible not to wonder what would have happened if that meeting between Julie & Julia had taken place after the project was completed... would Julie's nervousness make her act like an oaf? Would 90-year old Julia be reminded of her less-formed self at thirty? Maybe Julia would have admired Julie's determination and grit but how would she feel about cooking as a self-help project? Julia first fell in love with the sensual pleasure of eating perfectly cooked French food - only later did she decide to master French Cooking.

Julie, on the other hand, didn't spend much time playing with her food - she pounced on it, killed it, and then laid it as tribute at the feet of the one she loved.

Maybe Julia would have been okay with that eventually - word is she loved cats, and her kitchen in the Smithsonian featured one of my family's favorite Kliban cartoons on its wall

"Love to eat them mousies / Them mousies I love to eat / Bite they little heads off / Nibble they tiny feet."

Some of the sources:

Paul's NYTimes obit tells a lot about his entire life, including the decades before he met Julia.

Here is Julia's NYTimes obit, with mention of the Valentine postcards in the tub.

This MSNBC appreciation of Julia at her death in August 2004 includes biographical notes and quotes.

This NYTimes article from 1997 includes a birthday poem for Julia by Paul, referring to her legs and her "sweetly rounded bottom"

Julia Child celebrates 90 years, Beverly Levitt interview

Julia's Kitchen, now at the Smithsonian

Interview with Julia's namesake Julia Prud'homme

Slackerwood interviews Julie Powell

Natalie Haughton interviews Julie Powell

Reflections on Julia and Meryl by Julia's assistant, Gourmet Magazine Chef Sara Moulton

Julia Child film on American Masters

The Russ Parsons Post - many thanks to ChuckB of MyBack40Feet for leading me to it!

MS Magazine interviews Julia in 2003

Dale Roe on new TV shows - Jane Lynch to be in "Glee"

Looking for Julie and Julia was written by Annie in Austin for her Transplantable Rose blog.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

September Restart

It's so easy to not write, to not take photographs, to not enter this summer's losses on the semi-permanent record of a blog. There seemed little point in joining Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. I wrote nothing full of facts and numbers like the posts by MSS of Zanthan Gardens, no posts rejoicing that drip irrigation kept most of the garden alive like the vacationing Rock Rose, no celebrations of serene stock tank lilies and stately agaves like Pam/Digging, no struggles with enormous water harvesting projects like Bob of Draco, nor dramatic storm photos like Nature Sharing Diana or hopeful words about fall vegetable gardening like Renee & Iris & Katina or contest-winning photos like East Side Patch.

II loved Julie and Julia (the photo of the wonderful Meryl Streep is from @JulieandJulia on Twitter) but said not a word. A week slips past, and another - the neglected inside of the house gets attention, closets are rearranged, the Diva website is caught up, a book or two read, music put in written form, stuff tossed out. We hope for a shower to christen the rainbarrel. We're painting and shopping and hanging curtains and cooking as old movies play on Netflix.

Writing a blog post takes too long while jumping on Twitter takes 10 minutes, a simpler but more limited connection to other gardeners.
Then a post by Linda from Central Texas Garden made me laugh as she led a cheer for the heat, calling for just a few more days over 100°F so we can beat the record and hearing Linda's voice as I read made me want to speak. I took the camera out on Monday, planning to ease back in via Cindy's Through the Garden Gate. I missed that deadline, but Cindy didn't make it either! Annieinaustin, through back gateFrom the gate you can see what gets hand-watered - small trees, shrubs, plants that make flowers, fruit, seeds and nectar for bees and birds and butterflies. And what only gets the 'slop-over water' - the nearly dead grass away from the edges. Looking around the garden I've realized that most of the lambs ears are dead, the abutilon is gone, most of the callibrachoa croaked, as well as some of the sedums, some of the salvias and the native Texas betony, too.Annieinaustin,what livesFrom the other side of the triangle bed we can see that some Salvia coccinea are green and even the picky Blackfoot daisies look happyAnnieinaustin, lavender died In the same bed we don't see several Ex-lavenders, Ex-snapdragons, missing Balloon flowers and even native Ex-scutellarias. All the lavenders in the ground died but the very old 'Provence' lavender in the clay pot and cuttings from it in the hypertufa trough live and even bloom. A small 'Catawba' crepe myrtle is okay, the 'Mutabilis' rose isn't blooming but isn't dead, and the lived-over Jatropha integerrima/Spicy Jatropha is doing fine, with daily visits from hummingbirds.

Annieinaustin, blue plumbago Afternoon shade provided by the house wall wasn't enough to help the clematis but it let the blue Plumbago and Mother-of-Thousands thrive.Annieinaustin, pecan nuts and husks Do you see that seedling mixed in with the pecan debris? It's one of hundreds of invasive ligustrums sprouting in the beds and paths. I don't have any ligustrums, but they grow in all the yards surrounding mine. Native plants die while invasive ligustrum, Chinese tallow, nandina and Chinaberry stay green. Annieinaustin, wet chickadeeThe greenest spot on the lawn is under the birdbath - water is essential for the Chickadees Annieinaustin, black crested titmousefor the black crested titmouse who shows up every day and for the bees, wasps and all the other creatures who come here to drink Annieninaustin, housefinch Keeping the birds alive keeps me from giving up. I give water to the red house finches, water to the giant native sunflower and to the shrubs that make berries. I try to keep the hummingbird favorites alive. Shouldn't the cardinals, blue jays, gold finches, wrens, doves, grackles, hummingbirds and starlings recognize me as their friend by now? But no - they still only let me photograph them through the window. You'd think the squirrels would be grateful, too... Annieinaustin, shell tossing squirrelbut they'd rather toss pecan shells down on my head. Annieinaustin, dropped pecansSurvived August...check. Now the tiny tips of the Oxblood Lilies are poking up again, giving me hope we'll survive September. Annieinaustin, oxblood lilies emerge