Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stinky Stuff (and a Couple of Books)

See this interesting-looking purple thing? That's a flower. Richard orders lots of plants for the garden and this is one of them. He read the description in the plant catalog and thought it looked interesting, so he ordered it. What the description failed to mention, however, is that when it blooms, the flower smells like sun-baked, rotting, festering road kill. The smell of rotting meat is so strong it attracts flies.

Since Richard did not know this at the time, he planted the thing right next to the screened porch, so you get that aroma when you're trying to enjoy pleasant weather on the porch. Fortunately the blooms don't last too long. Unfortunately, it's a perennial, so we get to experience it every summer. This thing is called, I think, a dragon arum (more like dragon's breath arum, I say). I have to admit it is interesting, and it's big. The flower is almost two feet long.

Continuing with the "stinky" theme, I used to work in a marine science library in Charleston, SC. I wish I had pictures, but I didn't know at the time that I would be doing a blog. One day a student turned in a book that had been found in the bottom of a vat of formaldehyde. How it got there is anybody's guess. Another student, who was studying sharks, turned in a book that was soaked in shark's blood. Talk about stinky. He had been dissecting a shark on the dock and had the book with him as reference. Very irresponsible, if you ask me. He was very arrogant and didn't even offer to pay to replace the book. And he wasn't at all contrite about it. Needless to say, we did not retain those volumes in the library’s collection.
Okay, let's change the subject.

I finished Jar City. I had read a couple of chapters and then put the book down. However, when I got home from work last Friday at 3:00 pm (Small Public Institution closes at that time every Friday), I sat down, picked up the book, started reading, and had a hard time putting it down when it came time to fix dinner. Wow! Talk about a page turner. I mentioned there was a twist at the end, but it turned out not to be so twisty. The ending was completely in keeping with the story and very satisfying. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. If his subsequent books in the series are as good, then I will be a happy reader.

I finished Jar City on Saturday and, because I have so many books in my to-be-read pile, again I had a hard time deciding what to read next. But I chose Dead Heat by Dick Francis and Felix Francis. Dick Francis has always been one of my favorite authors. The first mystery I ever read was Whip Hand, by Francis. It was the one that got me started on a literary “life of crime,” so to speak. (Yes, I consider genre novels as literature.) The thing I like about Dick Francis’s novels is that I always learn something. He does a lot of research and then writes clearly and interestingly about the subject he’s chosen. His first novels were about horse racing, and the racing world is still always the backdrop, but he branched out into other fields. Dead Heat’s protagonist is a restaurateur. I’ve read all of Francis’s novels so far, and not one of them was ever dull.

How about a cat picture?

This is Horace. He was born when I was about eight years old, and he lived to be fifteen. I consider Horace to be the World's Greatest Cat. (You may have other ideas about that.) Horace put up with two little girls playing with him and treating him like a baby doll. Over the fifteen years of his life he grew to be a great friend. Every year on his birthday (May 15) Mama bought him a can of sardines in mustard sauce, which he loved. It was a sad day when we had to say goodbye to him.

Everybody in my family has had numerous cats since Horace, but none quite as memorable. The collection of kitties Richard and I have now are working their way up to Horace's level. Cats have such distinct personalities. They are a pleasure to observe.

Okay, that's enough for today. Go out and buy yourself a dragon arum. You'll love it.

1 comment:

Theresa said...

Um Marie, that's a pretty phallic-looking plant. No wonder it stinks. Quit reading so much and start taking some yarn pictures.


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