Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Winter Garden

As, I've mentioned before in this space, one of the benefits of gardening in Austin is the ability to have something in ground all year round. In August, we put in a variety of heat resistant tomato, and we've now got many fruits on the vine. With temperatures still in the 80s during the day, and dipping into the 50s at night, we're hoping they'll ripen quick. With luck, we'll have some fresh tomatoes for Thanksgiving. In addition, we planted a few rows of bush beans, and they are starting to produce as well.

A couple of weeks ago, Heather and I spent a Saturday in the garden, preparing the ground, and getting ready for the fall/winter planting. We put in garlic, peas, spinach, and a couple of varieties of carrots. Hopefully, the birds will leave the seeds alone long enough for the plants to grow, and we'll get a good harvest over the next couple of months before a deep frost hits.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Books and more books

In addition to everything else that's been going on, I've been doing a bit of reading over the last few months. Here's some of the most recent titles:

Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans
Upon our move to Austin last year, I decided to learn more about the history of the area. I was recommended Lone Star: A History of Texas and the Texans by T. R. Fahrenbach. It is an interesting book, but not for the faint of heart. Even though it was updated in 2000, the work still reads as it did when published in the 1960s. This makes for slow going in places, which, combined with the book's 600+ pages, can make it a bit hard for a casual reader to get through. In the end, though, Fehrenbach's treatment of Texas and the people of Texas helped me gain valuable insight into the history of the state, and how that history is impacting current events.

Washington: The Indispensable ManContinuing my series of U.S. presidential biographies, I also just completed James Thomas Flexner's Washington: The Indispensable Man. This is the one-volume condensation of Flexner's four-volume work on the life of the first president. Being an abridgement, the book maintains a fairly quick pace through the major events of Washington's life. Although the text is 400+ pages, it moves fairly quickly, and provides interesting insight into the personality of the father of our country. What impressed me the most about Washington was his great desire that the government be close to the people, and his faith and determination that the republican form of government would succeed in the United States. I recomment this book for anybody interested in learning more about George Washington.

I also read another one of Stephen Ambrose's books: The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany. While not an incredibly intellectual read, it was entertaining enough, and gave me new insight into the lives of bomber pilots in World War II. A short book, I picked it up while at my parents' house one weekend, and finished it rather quickly. It was a nice break from the depth of some of the other books I was reading at the time.

That's about it for now, although I've since picked up Ambrose's one-volume Eisenhower, and it should keep me occupied for a while yet.