Thursday, July 23, 2015

Return from Tanzania

Connie and I returned last night from an amazingly wonderful trip. In the coming days I will put a lot of material up on the blog on some of the experiences we had while there. Like watching these two old bulls devour an acacia tree in the Endumet Wildlife Area.

Or seeing this dark-patterned giraffe also in the Endumet.

Or watching this Grey Crowned Crane at Ngorongoro Crater.

Saturday, July 18, 2015


Via Jim Spencer: ""Write it, damn you, write it! What else are you good for?" (James Joyce)

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

"Better than Bacon"

This painting, in which Carl Rungius does his own version of a Charley Russell theme, is in the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole. Most of Rungius's late great oils  have a distinctive theme or style, which I characterized rudely to two of my friends, art historian Jim Moore and museum curator Toby Jurjevics, as "a cubist mountain with a big white mammal on it, or a big dark cubist mammal, a bear or a moose." True and I think funny (they did laugh), but leaves out the fact that he was one of the greatest "animaliers" eve, and maybe my favorite big game painter.

A show is coming next year of American hunting and fishing paintings, from the Revolution to WW II. I will do the intro, one reason we were all sitting in my yard last week talking about painters. I want to add this Rungius because it is atypical, as well as very nice.
By the way, I have a letter by Rungius that fell out of an old Knopf Borzoi book on Alaskan hunting by Russell Annabel that I found in a bookstore.

Image again

Here is the full image of the painting that contains the detail I blogged on below. I await the book, but as far as I know it is in Chinese, so it may still be enigmatic. It is both beautiful and sinister, and its title is "Clearing the Mountains". Who is clearing whom out of what mountains?


"No science without fancy. No art without facts"

(Vladimir Nabokov, via Carlos Martinez del Rio)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Old Timers

Our annual fiesta seems to have taken on new life, and despite threatening (pre?) monsoon  clouds staggering  by, nothing is getting  cancelled. It SMELLS like O t's. Now we just need the metronymic rhythm of 4 pm daily storms (with hail!) and maybe this will be the best "real"  rain in a decade...

Pics, random and not necessarily meaning anything, but "I LOVE THIS TOWN!" (Sis Olney) is as reasonable response as the more cynical one by the old cowboy who when asked why he stays in our harsh land: "I been three other places and they're worse..."

Click on photos to enlarge-- most will two times, with a lot of detail.

Libby took this photo of Bessie Apache in a formal shirt.

  Eleanor, Roxy, and "Cousin" Sis with her granddaughter, who wants to be a paleontologist and has assisted UNM scientists on a dig of mammoths on the ranch (it was one of the conditions Sis gave for them to dig). Sis is semi- retired from actual ranch work after getting busted up by a cow, so she has time to chase lions with her hounds and her husband Tom, 'way below on roan. Next,  Sis and daughter Gianetta, who I have known since she was four and who is now the ag teacher at the high school. When she was four, she used to exhort me to drive "..faster, Stevebodio, faster!" on the dirt roads on the ranch. Once, when I could barely stay on the road in my Suburban, I asked imperturbable Sis if she usually drove that fast. She grinned and said "I aint driven this fast on this road in my life!"

Gospel rock band from the Alamo rez. And every parade needs a 57 Chevy.

Karolyn and Doc ham it up.

Tom Olney (above, the computer won't add where I want), leads the parade. Barbara Trujillo Bowden, below with flag, is the aunt of my old friend James "Viejo" Trujillo, who died last year and appeared here, sister of my mentor Tony, and the recent widow of Curly Bowden, a fellow bird fancier (he briefly kept an emu!) The whole family is known for good  horses. A teacher and a reader, she beat cancer last year, and is still smiling.
Above: the guy with this float has a collection of antique (mostly 19th century) astronomical telescopes, some on display at a gallery in town, and assists at astronomical events and star parties. (Remember, we have Tech, the VLA of "Contact" fame, and a huge traditional telescope on the crest of the mags. NM is cowboys, Indians, old Spanish culture, and science fiction.

Below, Paul Pino's band has played in every fiesta for years, decades...

Left: Marin Harris, who I have known since she was born (in this town), has gone to college in British Columbia and Maine, and worked for the circus in Manhattan. She is in Albuquerque when not visiting her family here,  pursuing further degrees. Then, Sharon, Marin's mother, and Terry, teachers
The last float was incomprehensible. When Libby asked Felipe, more or less driving, what it was for, He said "I don't know-- they came and woke me up and asked me if I wanted to ride in it."

Below, us. We are still staggering, still smiling. A few hours later, the rains came. Libby in the aftermath just outside the front door, as some will recognize...


Book is more than half done but not done; cover is. Vadim of course.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Upcoming Trip

Connie and I are leaving later this week on a two-week trip to Tanzania. Our itinerary includes visits to Tarangire National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Oldupai (used to be Olduvai) Gorge, and Serengeti National Park.  We hope to have lots of photographs and stories to share when we return.

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Local moths

All but one are member of large groups that are represented everywhere and anywhere, though collected here. That one is not rare,  but it is interesting...

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Pedersen Rifle

But for  the preferences of General MacArthur and a big supply of WWI Springfields, we might have had a more elegant, if complicated, rifle for WWII than the Garand. Nathaniel F, gunblogger, scholar, and expert on military weapons and their history, first showed me a cartridge for the legendary Pedersen when he visited with Arthur last year.  They brought lots of odd long guns, and posed with us in our library.

Now there is a YouTube of shooting the Pedersen, with Nate providing some info and perspective.


Reid found this. Sounds satirical but I assure you I have seen worse in Mongolia, not to mention Kenneth Tynan's legendary Spanish one he cites in his 50's bullfight book Bull Fever... (better than Death in the Afternoon- improbably, I have two first eds, one signed, totally by accident...)

Clark City

Russell Chatham is back in northern California, fishing, thinking, writing, getting back to his roots. I don't have any practical info,  yet, but he is reviving Clark City Press, one step at a time .

Back in the day, he was the one publisher willing to take Querencia- the- book. Without him, this blog would not exist. He also  introduced me to Libby. Without his benign conniving, I might not be around...

The first "new" CCP book is a history of the guy who brought simple impressionistic imitation into the popular fly fishing world. I repeat, simple. Art Flick's Streamside Guide was first published in 1947, and I don't know a single fly fisherman of my generation in the northeast who didn't have a battered, well- used copy.

Yes, it is a fly fishing geek's book. But the author, the late Roger Keckeissen,  is an original and eccentric himself, so if you have the slightest interest in the subject, you get a storyteller's perspective-- it is NOT a book of fly patterns, And finally, Russ puts it all into context with a day astream with Roger and Ernest Schweibert not long before their deaths.

I shouldn't need to say that being a Clark City book, its paper quality and cover stock are better than many limited ed art books.

No, I don't know how to get it or how much it costs, yet. Let me know if you find out. 
UPDATE:Lucas Machias just sent a link to Mountain Press, where you can buy it for $45.

Image query

David W in Texas, an old falconer like me, sent this unsourced image. In it, a slightly stylized eagle appears to be attacking a human, while the nose of a tazi just enters lower left. Anybody out there who can translate the title or tell us anything about it? (Style but not subject of art looks Japanese to me).

Friday, June 26, 2015

Weekend Doggage

Daniel, with his new Civil War beard, trains one of his astonishingly beautiful pointers, art married to genes... look at that tail!

Stil another quote

From Carlos Martinez  del Rio, a man with a serious library, a quote from Giacomo Leopardi, "... a wonderful Italian poet of the early 19th century" :

"Works of  'literary' genius have the intrinsic quality, that even when they capture exactly the nothingness of things, or vividly reveal and make us feel life's inevitable unhappiness, or express the most acute hopelessness... they are always a source of consolation and renewed enthusiasm."


A Recent Find

Earlier in the month, I volunteered to help the Colorado State University field school when they conducted an excavation at a nearby site here in Douglas County. It's common for archaeology field schools to take their students to archaeological sites other than the one they are working on to broaden their exposure to other site types and materials. Another volunteer and I who are familiar with local archaeology helped by taking the students to some local sites after their work day was done.

On one of these visits to a site located on County Open Space lands, one of the students saw what she identified as an odd-looking biface on the site surface (see picture). Having previously worked in the Great Basin and California I was able to identify this as a Paleoindian crescent tool, an artifact rarely found here in Colorado. These date to about 8 - 12,000 BP and here is a short article about them.

Here is a picture of a crescent we found on one of my projects in the Mojave Desert in California about ten years ago.

The current theory is that most of these were actually used as projectile points on atlatl darts. They were mounted transversely with the concave end oriented as the "tip" of the point. It is believed that these were used for hunting water fowl. In the late Pleistocene, the Great Basin and California were covered with many large permanent lakes (Great Salt Lake is a shrunken remnant of one of these) that would have teemed with millions of ducks, geese and swans. Research has shown that these crescents are usually found near the shores of these extinct Pleistocene lakes (the one we pictured above from California certainly was) and excavated sites containing them have significant quantities of water fowl bone.

If you are interested in learning more about this artifact type and its likely role in the peopling of the Americas, I recommend you watch this YouTube video of a lecture given by Dr. Jon Erlandson of the University of Oregon a few years ago. If you watch, stay on through the Q & A period at the end which contains lots of information. If you really want to dig in, you can go here and buy a copy of a comprehensive article on them by Dr. Madonna Moss and Erlandson published in the Journal of World Prehistory in 2013.

As I alluded to earlier, these are extremely rare in Colorado, where we didn't have those large Pleistocene lakes. The Moss and Erlandson article contains a distribution map that shows two in our state and one each in Wyoming and New Mexico. Asking around to knowledgeable people, I have been able to find a picture of one from a private collection in northeastern Colorado. We certainly would have had water fowl here, but not in the huge numbers that would have merited devoting a large number of distinctive projectile points to hunting them. The site this one was found on is located near a confluence of two major creeks, but not near any lake.

I am also intrigued by the fact that this crescent is made of a locally sourced petrified wood. It was locally made, and not some exotic object traded in from elsewhere. Did the person who made this travel to the Great Basin where he found out about crescents and come back to make one? Or migrate from the Great Basin to here, perhaps? Interesting to speculate.


Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

- Richard Feynman

Raptor vs Rex

Moro Rogers has a delightful new serial webcomic, featuring the adventures of a (properly feathered) "Raptor"*.
* Mark Witton will explain why "Raptor" is a dumb common term for Dromaeosaurs. Not Moro's fault-- she knows Dinos-- just pop culture's.

Two Videos for your weekend pleasure

And to end the week with something more than the exploits of idiots. Both from the same shop at the Beeb, the one that gave you Goshawks flying in slow motion through holes in a wall; the first via Lucas Machias.

I have seen the second and it goes well here.

Carriage Horses Redux, and a Win...

Another essential dispatch from Jon Katz at Bedlam Farm.

"No one really knows how many millions of dollars NY Class, PETA, and a coalition of animal rights groups have spent trying to mobilize public support for the carriage horse ban and bullying the members of the City Council to pass the mayor's carriage horse ban...

"In the last week alone, these groups have mailed out hundreds of thousands of glossy color posted sized pieces showing dead horses (some of them from New York, some from elsewhere) to people for days in a row. They are organizing expensive phone channeling telephone calls from all over the country. They are following carriage drivers with video cameras, trying to catch them violating city regulations, they have hired private detectives to follow them, they have released a series of videos on you tube, and enlisted various naive and poorly informed Hollywood stars who think they are being hip and progressive.

"They have established a network of blogs and fund-raising websites using photographs of dead and injured horses, most from unknown places outside of New York to raise tens of millions of dollars from people who believe they are saving or rescuing animals, rather than sending them off to languish or die..

"The animal rights groups have organized hundreds of demonstrators – some  paid – to gather at the carriage horse lines in Central Park, hand out thousands of pamphlets, intimidate children, tourists and horse lovers, to shout insults at the carriage drivers and call them murderers, to secretly tape them in the hopes of catching them saying something controversial or angry.

"... The next chapter in this disturbing drama will be – should be – to stop the intimidation, harassment and abuse of the carriage trade, it is unconscionable that is occurring, and that the city government appears to be supporting it...  The animal rights ethos has become in some ways a fascistic, not a progressive one. Its targets are the poor and the working class. It despises the democratic process, and it dehumanizes it's targets and treats them in ways that are beyond the pale of a democratic and civil society."

The carriage trade is considering  lawsuit. I would not be optimistic about this but for a strangely parallel suit won by environmentally conscious ranchers against the so- called Center for Biodiversity (do NOT confuse with the scholarly Berry Center for Biodiversity at U Wy Laramie, run by my friend Carlos Martinez del Rio-- I mean the one down here run by the former grad student in literature from Long Island, the one that seems to harass good ranchers as though it were a personal feud). A rancher named Jim Chilton has a 25,000 acre lease in Arizona where his environmental practices have been praised by a team of independent researchers who studied the land for six years, among others.

Unimpressed, the CDB stepped up their campaign of "psychological warfare" to drive him off the land, one that included outright lies and photographs of stripped ground that turned out to be a Forest Service parking lot. The result, according to Ted Williams of Fly Rod and Reel (not online yet I think) was that "... Chilton then took CBD to court, winning $100,000 for harm to his reputation and $500,000 in punitive damages... this is the only time an NGO has been successfully sued for libel."

Go get 'em!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Curs On Coyotes

We parked the truck under the crest of the ridge and the two yellow female curs jumped from the cab to the ground, sniffing around unconcernedly for ground squirrels. Jeff quietly called the dogs back to the truck so he could snap electronic collars onto their necks. The girls remained quiet and seemed calm, but as I glanced at the seven-year old female, I could see the muscles of her back legs quivering in excitement. Although the collars can send electric shocks, for these seasoned pros, that would not be necessary. Instead, Jeff would use the collars to emit electronic beeps to communicate commands. There would be no voice commands in the field.

We spoke little, walking quietly with the dogs until we’d reached a rock outcrop perched at the end of the ridge overlooking a small pond, with sweeping views up several drainages along the face of the Wind River Mountains. We sat with our backs against the rocks, the dogs sitting patiently in front, as Jeff blew on a coyote call. We sat still, mosquitoes buzzing around us, sweat dripping down our backs, while the dogs slowly moved their heads from side to side as they scanned the hillsides for movement, occasionally adjusting their rumps for a more comfortable position. Plenty of birds, butterflies, and a few pronghorn antelope, but no coyotes, so we gathered ourselves back up for a hike to the next ridge, headed to check a location where a female coyote had denned the year prior.

The morning was long past and it was 80 degrees by the time we reached the rugged bluffs above the Big Sandy River, checking on one last den site before calling it a day. I could hear lambs calling to their mothers from the riverbed below as we began hiking toward the den, the curs trotting out in front of us. It was far too hot for anything to be happening, but the curs quickly jumped an adult male coyote that had been lounging on a ridgeline away from the pups. One yelp from the dogs and the chase was on, away from us and out of sight over the ridge.

Within seconds I saw a dog’s head pop up on the skyline, as one of the dogs took a look to locate her human partners. A few barks and yelps later, the two curs came charging back over the top of the ridge, with the male coyote a few paces behind.
The coyote was agitated at the intrusion into his range, barking aggressively, and trying to get close enough to grab a mouthful of dog. But the curs were fast and determined, swinging back around and coming to a full stop to urge the coyote forward when he faltered.
The temptation was too much, and the coyote again gave chase.
 The girls brought him in at a run directly across a small draw from our location, where Jeff was waiting with his .22-250 Remington. The dogs slowed and stopped, as did the coyote, giving Jeff a clean and close view. One quick shot and the coyote was down.
The dogs raced back to us for praise, then returned to rough up the carcass a little before leading us back along the ridgeline. After a quick water break, the dogs escaped the heat by climbing back into the cab for a well-deserved nap.

Monday, June 22, 2015

One More Link

Best Product Description: "Icelandic Beer Made From Smoked Whale Testicles". Really.

"We started last year with our first whale beer, Hvalur 1. The health department didn’t want us to produce it at first, but we were allowed to. The beer used whale meal as an ingredient, and it was something new for Iceland. It sold out almost immediately. This year, for Hvalur 2, we wanted to keep the concept, but use a different whale ingredient. We decided to use fin whale testicles... We wanted to create a true Thorrablot atmosphere that celebrates traditional Icelandic food. Every winter, Icelanders gather to eat traditional food that sustained our ancestors for generations. This is very popular here in the countryside, and we wanted the beer to be released at the same time of the festival. The dishes we eat include boiled sheep heads, liver sausage, ram testicles, fermented shark, wind-dried fish, smoked lamb meat, and blood pudding. We thought that Hvalur 2 would fit in well with Thorrablot...

Courtesy of David Z.

Links II: Three videos

What would you do if a a wolverine dug you out of a snowbank? A rescue wolverine?

The only person I know who survived an avalanche (I know a few who were killed) was my late father- in- law, Libby's dad Ken Adam. I would have loved to ask him that question...

Who says sea eagles are slow? Lazy maybe, never slow. Alaska falconers must watch out  when flying their  Gyrs on the coast, where Bald eagles dominate the air. Watch this one's effortless gain on the poor Osprey.

This is the best video of the Lyrebird EVER; best birdsong, funniest bird video in years, name it. I have been reading an excellent and important book from Australia by Tim Low, on Australia as a point of origin for many of the world's bird families, and went looking for David Attenborough's video of the bird. It is good, but this is epic. Turn up that sound!

Links I: Feathers and Carriage Horses

...which I have been neglecting. With a book deadline and one for a big article not too far away, the impending operation, and things like four- hour "Neurological Psychology" tests, these more than one hundred miles away-- I won't burden you further, but I can be distracted.

I an a bit disappointed that not one "Mainstream" reviewer of the new "Jurassic" film has remarked on its featherless lizards. Not even my favorite and most erudite reviewer, Anthony Lane at the New Yorker- he is no scientist, and DID write the funniest one, but I unfairly expect him to know everything.

You all know what I am going to say next: FEATHERS. As Brian Switek blogged, " A Velociraptor without feathers isn't a Velociraptor!" Perhaps the paradigm has not shifted yet. Continue to spread the meme with such portraits as John Conway's, above...

Don't forget the New York Carriage horses either; their struggle against Animal Rights activists and New York's remarkably obtuse (stupid?) mayor deBlasio  is symbolic of the one everywhere that pits owners of working animals against those who want to end all human- animal work and relations. Jon Katz at Bedlam Farm does a good job on this and much else,  but I am surprised this isn't a constant national story. The statistics are revealing; all the city's papers are in favor of keeping the horses, as are 70% of the people. I don't know why this ridiculous and heartbreaking controversy wasn't settled in favor of the horse drivers long ago.

Jon: "I have assembled some quotes from just a handful of the people who have, unlike the mayor and a single member of any animal rights group in New York City, come to New York to see the horses and examine them and their lives. The mayor has never talked to any of these highly regarded and experienced people, never considered a word they have said, never called them up or invited them to visit. Every week, animal rights activists and real estate developers seeking to ban the carriage trade hold their press conferences, march in the streets, shout at the carriage drives, taunt the horses, parade into City Hall to meet with the mayor and his aides to plan their campaign to banish the horses....

"The Central Park Conservancy, credited with restoring the park after decades of neglect, opposes the mayor's plan to replace the carriage horses with electric cars, saying the plan is "unsafe" and will increase congestion in the park, already struggling to accommodate 40 million visitors a year. The horses, says the conservancy, are a natural part of the park's history.

"Buck  Brannaman, one of the world's most respected horses trainers, author of "The Faraway Horses" and the inspiration for the movie "The Horse Whisperer":

"Pulling carriages on rubber-rimmed wheels on paved streets is a low-stress job, and the horses are calm and relaxed, not anxiously laying their ears back or wringing their tails. Plus, these horses get lots of attention and affection from passersby. And horses love attention and affection as much as we do.

"Famed biologist Jared Diamond:

"Draft horses are "the most domesticable animals in the world for life in urban areas." They tolerate noise and disruption, other species they are gentle, they stay close to one another, they attach to people, they are genetically extraordinarily well suited to work with people in urban environments.


"None of these people or organizations have been questioned by the mayor, or been invited to participate in the discussion on the future of the carriage horses. The debate there is harsh, dishonest and unknowing, shaped by unfounded accusations and unsupported prejudices. The leaders of our greatest city – and many journalists there –  have lost any understanding of the real world of real animals, the debate over the carriage horses could not possible be lower, more corrupt or unknowing.

"Virtually none of the people seeking to ban the horses – garage builder Steven Nislick, head of NYClass, the animal rights group spearheading the ban effort; mayor deBlasio, who has never owned a dog; the president of the New York City Council, who has two rescue cats; or the leaders of any of the animal rights organizations involved has any training or qualifications in equine medicine, training or behavior. Yet they have dominated the discussion in the city, and shaped the media coverage of the issue, so important to the future of animals in our world.

"We owe it to the earth to keep animals in our every day lives, especially when they are fortunate enough to be needed, loved, and so well cared for. We have a shared responsibility for the people and the animals in the world. If you are so moved, please write the mayor and tell him so: Mayor Bill deBlasio, New York City Hall, City Hall Park, N.Y., N.Y., 10007.

Malcolm dissents

Malcolm Brooks, author of Painted Horses and a capital- F Friend of Q, was so appalled by an Adam Gopnik anti- gun rant in the New Yorker that he wrote the furious and sometimes even funny riposte below.

Turns out he was "baited" with an old essay, but the truth remains. Apparently no one at the NYRKR has yet realized that not only is Gopnik's statement that it is almost impossible to own a gun in Canada wrong (or as we say, a "lie"), but Canada's only move on guns in recent years was to abandon its flawed, useless, and ruinously expensive long gun registration scheme.

There are dangers to living in a bubble; I am remembering Pauline Kael's statement that Nixon must have stolen the election because nobody she knew had voted for him.

In Berkeley.


 I don't regard myself to be on "the right," whatever that means in this Fantasia of a current political climate, but I own a pile of guns and have been shooting and hunting with them since childhood. True, certain European countries have stringent gun laws, and some or possibly all of them likely have lower homicide rates than our own experiment-in-progress. On the other hand, it's not "impossible" to own a gun in Scotland, which still ushers in the Glorious Twelfth in traditional fashion with a lot of booming double-guns and dead grouse in the heather. Meanwhile, following the Velvet Revolution the Czech Republic quickly moved to reverse draconian Soviet regulations designed to keep guns out of the hands of anyone who might pose a threat to the regime, and Czechs are currently about as armed to the teeth as the Swiss, with similarly little trouble. America is a unique situation, with a degree of class and racial and regional diversity that might be described as unprecedented in the history of the world. Frankly, for a heterogeneous, even polyglot nation of 300 million with an estimated one gun per person, it's somewhat astonishing that gun violence is as rare as it is on a per capita basis, despite the best efforts of a sensationalizing media to portray statistically rare (if undeniably tragic) mass shooting events as some sort of social pandemic. As far as straight gun homicides go, the vast majority are demonstrably related to black market drug trafficking, which itself is a product of foolish, draconian, and totally paternalistic state policy rife with corruption at every level and probably knowingly engineered to prop up excessively militarized domestic law enforcement departments, privatized penal institutions, and for all I know the GDP of Mexico. Don't even get me going on Big Pharma and whatever barrage of untested drugs-du-jour it wants to ram down the throats of Americans at the earliest possible age, except to say I'd far rather see both legal and illegal drug policy reform than squads of the aforementioned LEO's coming around to confiscate the guns of American citizens, be they Bobby Seale, Dennis Banks, the Pink Pistols, or myself. And frankly, essays and punditry such as the above, in which some air-conditioned wonk blathers on about sixty or so million American gun owners as though their collective character is somehow flawed, retrograde, inbred, gap-toothed, or otherwise unevolved enough EVEN TO NOTICE THE BLATHER, let alone have a change of heart and whistle kumbaya whilst agreeably handing over the artifacts of their own enthusiasms, are about as insulting as it gets. Let's not forget that we are talking about people who keep the electrical grid up and the toilets flushing and the trash hauled off and the food magically appearing in the grocery store; stop having this conversation as though it's solely the purview of a self-congratulatory intellectual class, because that isn't what stands to have its pastimes and ways of life criminalized. And honestly, I'd love to see one-fiftieth the ire out of the left over Snowden's current straits as it seems endlessly to have over legally owned firearms in a free nation. So basically, this: if you or Adam Gopnik or Barack Obama want my prized 1924 Mannlicher-Schoenauer, or the 1955 Czech BRNO my son shot his first two elk with, or anything else in the safe, you are all welcome to go purchase your own. You can't have mine. Get the picture?

Steve again: one more thing I have always wondered about: since most military people and cops I know are firmly pro- gun, just who is going to take our guns away?

James Salter, RIP

James Salter, novelist, is dead at ninety. The BBC report, which Reid sent, said that he "never converted critical acclaim into commercial success."

Really? He was a "writer's writer",  and a maker of perfect sentences and some small perfect books, as well as a big one-- in that sense, and because of the slightly icy perfection of his best work, he was never going to be a pop success-- but maybe he never wanted to be. Having your last big novel published by Knopf and selling respectably is hardly  a case of failure.

Nor should my phrase about small perfect books be construed as anything precious. He was also compared to Hemingway and that would be right if it were the correct concept of Hemingway-- the artist who on some level wanted to paint like Matisse. The "Beeb" said that he "became known for exploring masculine themes like conflict - provoking comparisons to Ernest Hemingway." But though both believed in precision in art, courage, and "grace under pressure",  Hemingway did not become a career Air Force officer, which Salter did, showing a serious commitment to something in addition to writing.

Salter also wrote the first-- some would say only-- great climbing novel,  Solo Faces, making him a cult figure to male climbers of our generation. The rest of his works other than Solo Faces and The Hunters were about men and women and eros and marriage, and he might have written on these themes, at least narrowly, better than any other male of his generation, the generation that thought there actually was a Great American Novel. None of the obvious contenders ever move me much.

He was also something of a self- creation, though he was open about it. Born Salzmann (not sure of the spelling) he made a conscious decision to change his name before he went into the service. He never apologized but never changed his name back, either.

He will be remembered for his earlier work: Solo Faces, A Sport and a Pastime, and Light Years (the one with the perfect sentences and an almost Japanese sense of sweet melancholy), and for his last,  All That Is (now THAT is an ambitious title!), which is probably the best novel about the post WWII New York writing and publishing world-- not a small thing in those years. But all of his writing is worth reading...

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Painted Gunstocks

If you are like me the mere idea of a painted gun would likely make you wince, or at best grin condescendingly. The idea of decorating stocks sounds kitschy, something crude and maybe embarrassing, at best folk art.

You would be wrong-- I was. My first clue was when Gil Tracy, a man of taste and sophistication, sent me to this site.

He had sent one of his highly modified single .410 turkey guns--now that's a whole concept too, one to which I should devote a post or column- to Mark for adornment:

There actually might be something new under the sun in the old world of decorated weapons.  Now I too I have something on the way to Mark, and projects in motion...

Deep Brain

The date for operation if all goes well is 10 August. Wish me luck, say a prayer, raise a glass, whatever your style. I am more than ready...

Friday, June 12, 2015


Paul has his old NM Gos back, a bird who might  have been his best. He has descendants, with Finnish genes, and if all goes well I may yet fly one.

Accipiter gentilis apache may or may or may not be a valid taxon, but Gila Goshawks are distinctive. First I ever saw was in the late 70's, when rancher John showed me one he had caugh and tamed after it had killed a number of his game fowl. The story is in Q- the - book.

Black, silver, garnet red...

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Spring Reds

 This seems to be the spring for red fox in western Wyoming. It's not that we have more of them, but we've got a few litters that have been more visible than usual. Fortunately they aren't near our lambing grounds, so they aren't in areas where conflicts would be expected.

I spotted six kits at this den at the entrance to a cattle ranch along a county road.

Friday, June 05, 2015

One more quote

From TRD, a Mongolian maxim :

"While your father is alive make as many friends as you can, while your horse is alive, see as many lands as you can."
 I get the second at least. But so many sayings are now attributed to Mongolia. One I actually heard there more than once over many years, and sounds right to me:

"If you are afraid, don't do it.

"If you do it, don't be afraid."

Another quote

From the late Christopher Hitchens, via  Jackson, who said of it (remember, he is Orthodox): "...   [he's] both cynologically and theologically astute (atheist or no)..."

Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are God. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.

Hmmm. I can't speak to theology, but I would suggest it applies, but only to "derived" modern dogs, not to the tazis, laikas, and other so- called Primitives, who seem to go about entirely confident that they are at least minor household gods... Ataika for instance:

Poster by Arthur

Darwinian quote

Annie D got this from some Internet meme about retired people's opinions. I like it.

"I'm not saying let's go kill all the stupid people.  I'm just saying let's remove all the warning labels and let the problem work itself out."

Dogs seeking homes...

There will be some interesting pups available later this year. But right now there is a wonderful rather young full grown dog available: Meshi. One of the difficulties among so- called "primitive" breeds is that they are-- sometimes fiercely-- hierarchical, especially the females. This is rarely a problem when they are raised together, as they accept the status quo-- but when two Alpha queens are suddenly "forced" to live together, one must yield-- and does not, sometimes.

At Shiri's, neither Meshi nor Riss would back down, and Meshi must find a new home, one without bitches-- she gets along perfectly well with males, cats, and other species.

Says Shiri:

"Rissy has been great with Mars and with Tavo's bitches when they have been over.  Never a worry.  But not all dogs can be together, and Rissy and Mesh were not a match. 

2.5 years old, good with people and cats and kids,  very cheerful, extremely loving, super athletic.  Needs to go to a home without other bitches.  You can put my email address in the blog as a contact."

And here it is:

Meshi's needs are greatest. But there are more out there. John Burchard has bred another litter out of Tigger and Prince-- that is Kazakh and working line Saudi, the Kazakh itself a combination of Almaty and Semirichenski lines, brindle genes out of Lashyn, and Kyran...

UPDATE: here is Tigger litter 2!

And for those who prefer lurchers and longdogs, Patrick has a link. They are descended in part from Lashyn and Plum, and Terence's old Percy.
Finally, we are at  least thinking about planning an ultimate litter, though the breeding has not been done...