Friday, January 18, 2019

The Godfather

We were headed down to watch a college basketball game in San Diego. I left Fallbrook and picked Kent up in Oceanside. Kent wanted to know where I wanted to eat. Hmm, I thought long and hard. I whittled it down in my mind to two places, The Godfather and the Butcher Shop, both very old school San Diego and both situated in Clairemont Mesa.

I couldn't make up my mind and called my wife. "Go to the Butcher Shop," she said. "They'll have to clean the cobwebs off the booths of the Godfather." That settled it, being your basic contrarian, we went to The Godfather. It has honestly been decades since I have eaten there.

Arriving early, we sat in the seats near the fountain outside and waited for the doors to open. Enjoyed the quiet evening. When the door finally opened we were the first one's in and a well dressed gent led us to our table. Place was immaculate, no cobwebs in sight. Didn't look like anything had changed in the thirty or so years since I had eaten there. Welcome back to the seventies, and I say that with love and total respect.

The Godfather is an old school, swank sort of place, down to the plastic grapes and Brando posters. Sort of place you could imagine the Ratpack enjoying a meal at. Decidedly non nouvelle.

A place with eight nine kinds of veal on the menu, scampi, steaks, a place unfazed by time. Mussels, carciofi, canneloni, branzino, frutti di mare, the same menu and food quality you would find at a great spot in Jersey City. Or the famous mob hangout the Sommers boys would frequent while at our blackjack junkets in Las Vegas, the Villa D'Este. I'm a sucker for red velvet.

My family has been eating at the Balistreri family restaurant since they opened the joint in 1974. My father, brother and I had an office around the corner on Convoy Court. And now I am the only one left.

A waiter came and got our drink order, Kent ordered a very nice glass of red wine and I settled for ice water. Brought us good bread. I decided to quiz him. "I haven't been here in a very long time. You still got the wonderful fried zucchini with parmesan?" "Yes sir," he replied, "No, its not on the menu but we will bring it right to your table."

Another waiter walked by that I faintly recognized. "Hey I remember you." He told me in a voice with a slight european accent that he had left thirty years ago but had recently come back. "I remember you," I explained. "The big guy still here, the guy with the operatic voice who would sing once in a while?" "Isadora has retired but he still comes in for a few hours every day to make sure that the sauces are right."

The Godfather was one of our family restaurants, like Busalacchis was later on. They served the type of italian food our family liked to eat. Always good, always well prepared. I ordered veal marsala and a salad and Kent had the superb steak Sinatra, a specialty dish. Both were accompanied by complimentary pasta. I looked around. It seems like every booth in the rapidly filling restaurant was filled with people just like me, people and families who looked like they had been all eating there for over forty years.  Old timers. Eating at a best kept secret, a very familiar place where the menu was good and never needed to change. A classy joint, unaffected by time or the next best thing.

I don't know what made me pick the place. Or maybe I do. My dad and brother and I had season basketball tickets, Rockets, Sails, Conquistadors and the dreaded Clippers and there were many times when we would stop there on the way to a game I imagine. Or hit the Butcher Shop for their stroganoff. I guess I was missing my brother and my pop subconsciously and going to one of our old hangouts helped me get back in touch.

By the way, the food was delicious. Kent thought so too. Zucchini was thinly sliced, as perfect as I remember. The marsala sauce was sublime. Thank you Isadore. Not a cheap dinner but not extravagant. You can handle it.

I'm going back and its not going to take me another twenty or thirty years to do it. The Godfather, it's like going home again.

The Godfather
7878 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92111


Wave - Paria Escalante

Mick Taylor

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Native talk

My buddy Jeff is an Alaskan. He sent me a neat story the other day about an Alaskan man, Remembering Clarence Wood, a hunter in the truest sense of the word. The late Clarence was an Inupiaq hunter from Ambler. His tale gives you a great sense of what it is like to live on the wild frontier.

Clarence Wood - (Nick Jans photo)
I had a teacher who spent a couple years in the wilds of Alaska in the early fifties. No one locked their doors, if you needed something you borrowed and shared but you did something for your unknown benefactor before you left, cut wood, whatever. People took care of each other.

I'm not sure it is quite like that anymore. But guys like Clarence are guys I definitely like to get to know.
...Clarence wounded a grizzly bear at dusk below our log cache. He’d been drinking, and left 10 minutes later, heading upriver in his boat. I searched for the bear in the dark with a flashlight but couldn’t find it in the willows. I came home discouraged and tired and laid my shotgun on the table. Stacey woke me up during the night. It was windy, dark, the dogs were barking like crazy. I went out barefoot. I heard the bear in the brush, coming up the hill. I held the gun level. When it was a few yards away I was ready to shoot but something stopped me. It was Clarence. His motor had broken down and he’d drifted back downriver. I stretched out a caribou hide for him and in the morning I heard him pumping the Coleman, softly, the way he did, heating water, wanting coffee too damn early. When I woke up again he was gone.
I hope to make it to Alaska one day. But not cruise ship Alaska, hard scrabble Alaska.

Speaking of Alaska, the shutdown is apparently hitting certain remote areas up there like Kodiak Island pretty hard.

The rugged west has more federal land and more federal workers per capita and the furloughed workers are feeling a lion's share of the pain. Many of them are s-o-l in very remote places. Hard to have a bake sale or mow somebody's lawn up on Kodiak Island.

Alaska also has a lot of earthquakes. My other buddy Jeff from Alaska lost a priceless collection of glass and pottery during the last big quake.

I am doing a Cowboy/Indian show in Mesa, Arizona next week called the Mesa Old West show, formerly known as High Noon. It has been around a long time but I have never exhibited before, always having prior conflicts.

Roan Horse - Comanche - unidentified photographer
I understand there is a major collection of historic native photography being auctioned, the Robert G. McCubbin Collection.

I have a very old and beautiful photo of a native male in a eagle feathered bonnet that I might bring and try to sell in my booth.

It has been on my wall for about twenty five years but I am at the stage where I have to let things go. Not sure if the wife will sign off but we will see.

My unidentified photograph
Someone once told me that they thought it might have been taken by C.S. Fly but I am not sure that they really knew.

Most people are familiar with Curtis, Moon, Rinehart, a few more photographers but there were hundreds more. My favorite is probably Gertrude Käsebier (1852-1934.) Her work was very artistic.

Iron white man - Käsebier
I was looking for images to see if I could find the author of my beautiful photograph when I was directed to this marvelous resource on Facebook, Moses on the Mesa. Somehow the greatest Native American portrait archive in the world sprung up on Facebook. Remarkable.

And who was Moses on the Mesa? One Solomon Bibo (1853-1934), a Jewish trader from Prussia who became the Governor of Acoma Pueblo in 1872. The only non native to ever serve as governor of a Pueblo. The son of a cantor. He and his brothers had a trading post in the tiny town of Ceboletta.
"None of the Bibos became more endeared to the Indians than Solomon was to the Acomas. In 1882, he arrived at the pueblo and set up a trading post. He learned Queresan, the Acoma language, and helped the tribe fight its legal battles to restore its traditional lands. By treaty in 1877, the Acomas had been granted 94,000 acres of land by the U.S. government, far less than the Indians thought they were entitled to according to historical evidence. The Acomas were determined that they should lose no more than had already slipped through their hands.
To accomplish this end, in 1884 the tribe decided to offer Bibo a 30 year lease to all their land, in exchange for which he would pay them $12,000, protect their cattle, keep squatters away and mine the coal under the Acoma lands, for which he would pay the tribe a royalty of ten cents per ton for each ton extracted. Pedro Sanchez, the U.S. Indian agent from Santa Fe, learned of the deal and jealous of the success of the "rico Israelito" (rich Jew), tried to get the federal government to void the lease.
The Bibo family fought back. Simon Bibo petitioned the Board of Indian Commissioners in Washington to the effect that his brother Solomon's "intentions with the Indians are of the best nature and beneficial to them--because the men, women and children love him as they would a father and he is in the same manner attached to them." In 1888, convinced finally that Bibo had acted honorably, the Indian agent for New Mexico wrote, "To the people of the pueblo of Acoma, having confidence in the ability, integrity and fidelity of Solomon Bibo...I hereby appoint [him] governor of said pueblo.""
Bibo is #15

There were many jewish traders in the west. Must have given the natives a square deal. And perhaps identified with their diaspora.

Frederick Monsen (1865-1929) gelatin silver photograph Hopi woman at the well with water jar, Walpi.
This is a photo I will definitely be taking to the show. It was taken by Frederick Monsen and bears his thunderbird cartouche. I own it with John Fillmore.

It is large, 18 x 14". Monsen was part of a group of California photographers called the Pasadena Eight. They included Charles Lummis, Adam Clark Vroman, George Wharton James and Carl Moon.

If you are in the Phoenix area next week, please come visit and say hello!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Candye Kane

Virgin River

Long distance operator

Personal stuff

Sunset at Avalon Harbor

I got busted by a friend the other day. Justifiably. For an obsessive scribe I sure am a shitty letter writer. I favor short, terse, impersonal replies. And it is pretty awful really because I get some very lovely notes from my friends and can't be bothered to respond with much more than a grunt? Such horrible manners. Really. I can say that it is a conservation of energy thing because I write so much but it would merely be a bullshit excuse.

The blog touches a thousand people a day on a decent day. But it is no excuse either to ignore my close friends or to glean their personal communications for blog fodder. I can't forget the personal. I apologize. My bad.

American Gothic

I have a large network of friends and associates. I think that I usually keep up with the ins and outs of the movements and personalities but there are times things simply pass me by.

I was shocked the other day to hear from Terry S. that Bob Joyce had passed away around Thanksgiving. A picker and antique dealer par excellence, Bob was from Omaha, a near constant sidekick to Terry, Vickie and Jan. A good friend of mine for many years. And to many others.

Unconventional and unbroken, like many of us.
A man who lived his life on his own terms.

I don't know much about his passing. Bradford said he might have heard that they found him in bed with a smile on his face. Hope it is true.

We will miss you Bob. Another one bites the dust.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Camel - Lunar Sea

Taco time

I was running a little crazy this morning, pressed for time. I had a minor eye surgery scheduled in Murrieta and about forty minutes to grab a bite and get up there.

I headed for Jack in the Box, something I honestly rarely do and grabbed the two tacos for a buck deal. Threw in a sausage croissant. Great go to on the cheap.

I love Jack in the Box tacos. So does my sister Barbara in Florida who can't get them back there and has to stop for them first thing when she is in California. There is a gamey quality to the mystery meat paste inside the crackly gems I find both pleasing and intriguing in some horrible and disgusting way.

Jack in the Box is cool, a hometown San Diego product now owned by Ralston Purina and one of two restaurants open all night in Fallbrook, the other being Robertitos. And yes, Ralston Purina is the dog food company but it would be in very poor taste to make any kind of culinary nexus connection. Supposedly, the local Jack is a great tweaker hangout at three in the morning. I hear the company is in some bad financial shape. Franchisees are pissed at headquarters at the moment for some reason.

Frankly there was something a little off on my tacos today, they didn't have the usual je ne cest quois. Hope they haven't monkeyed with their little treasure. Will try again soon and try to nail the difference down. So what are the fabulous and incredibly delectable tacos actually made of? Hamster? Cockroach paste? Is it a tang like space food chemical concoction? Some vegans swear that they are made of soy and down them without guilt. Got me.

I did some checking.

Somebody on the net offered this: Beef Regular Taco Filling Ingredients: Beef, Water, Textured Vegetable Protein (Soy Flour, Caramel Color), Defatted Soy Grits, Seasoning (Chili Pepper, Maltodextrin, Spices, Wheat Flour, Salt, Dry Garlic, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Corn and Wheat Gluten, Monosodium Glutamate, Dry Onion, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium.

Another came up with something entirely different. Taco, Regular Filling Ingredients: Beef, Chicken, Water, Textured Vegetable Protein (Soy flour, Caramel Color), Defatted Soy Grits, Seasoning (Chili Pepper, Corn Maltodextrin, Spices, Bleached Enriched Wheat Flour [Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, and Folic Acid], Salt, Garlic Powder, Hydrolyzed Corn, Soy, and Wheat Proteins, Monosodium Glutamate, Onion Powder, Natural Flavors, Disodium Inosinate, Disodium Guanylate, Succinic Acid), Salt, Tomato Paste, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic Powder, Sugar, Spices, Tamarind, Natural Flavor, Sulfiting Agent). Tortilla Ingredients: Ground Corn, Water, Lime. Cooked in Canola Blend Frying Oil. Contains Soy, Wheat. 

So the second largest ingredient in the beef taco is chicken? Kind of weird but I can live with that. By the way, Jack and the Box reportedly sells 554 million of these babies a year, over 1055 a minute. I assure you that somebody else is eating them besides me, although few will apparently confess. More on the scrumptious morsels here, which the snide writer likens to a "wet envelope of cat food." Accurate but not altogether charitable.

Anyway, as I said, there was something a little off with them today. They lacked their customary "funny smell." By the way the larger supertaco from Jack is a totally different animal and lacks all the redeemable virtues of its poor and diminutive relative. And full disclosure, the sausage croissant was pretty soaked in its own grease. Which was okay because at least the grease wasn't rancid as it can be if you happen to catch Jack on the wrong day.

First Jack, 63rd and El Cajon blvd. I worked four blocks away,
my first job at the Rolando Apartments. 12 years old.

By the way, I recently discovered the fish taco at Robertitos. Where have I been? A generous portion of deep fried fish with a bit of pico de gallo, cabbage and ample lime slices, all smothered with an appropriate cream sauce. Sprinkle with a liberal dollop of hot sauce. Only three fifty, half the price of the fish burrito and even better, if you ask me. I usually get it with zanahorias, the hot carrots and jalapenos combo that will set you back another fifty cents. Top it off with a fanta and you are in heaven.

Tell them that you want the Blue Heron Blast discount. They will look at you funny and maybe threaten to call the cops.

Sun flare at Arches

ƒ22 1/60th iso 64 Nikon D810 with Bower 14mm ƒ2.8

Monday, January 14, 2019

Eva Cassidy and the London Symphony

One of my favorite covers by the late and incredible Eva Cassidy, posthumously accompanied by the London Symphony. Not quite as stunning as the solo version but still beyond beautiful.

e ticket, fourth iteration

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Cindy Walker

The arrow of time

Black hole entropy equation
I was in a state of half sleep at three in the morning last night when I strew a few lines together.

I have been thinking about my recent conversations on mortality and longevity and my brain was wandering, as it often does in bed. I didn't get up and write down my thoughts as I had told myself to, so this is what I am left with the next day:

The notion of defeating entropy is
as possible as
suspending gravit
or cancelling fall and winter
for a never ending spring.

Bit pessimistic I know. Not going to win a Pulitzer either but it was three in the morning, after all, and sounded much more profound while I was in my pajamas. There is, of course, probably more, now forever lost to dreamland.

I may have filched the last idea from Bradbury, hope that Ray won't mind.

Are you familiar with the basic notion of entropy? The French mathematician Carnot introduced the concept, he wrote a paper in 1803 that proposed that in any natural process there exists an inherent tendency towards the dissipation of useful energy

All closed systems eventually break down. Even organic beings. There are many reasons for the dissipation including friction and wear. The term entropy is used in various schools of science including economics, quantum mechanics, communications and cosmology.

Definition of entropy 

1thermodynamics a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system's disorder, that is a property of the system's state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system.broadly the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system

2athe degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformityEntropy is the general trend of the universe toward death and disorder.— James R. Newman

ba process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorderThe deterioration of copy editing and proof-reading, incidentally, is a token of the cultural entropy that has overtaken us in the postwar years.— John Simon

4statistical mechanics a factor or quantity that is a function of the physical state of a mechanical system and is equal to the logarithm of the probability for the occurrence of the particular molecular arrangement in that state

As I said before, I seem to be in the clear minority on the whole death cheating business. Some of you have great plans for the infinite future, including new planet population and space nookie. I salute you comrades. I am content one day to submit to the natural long sleep. Throw me a cosmic rose on your way by.

And make your move before the Large Magellanic Cloud collides with the Milky Way Galaxy. I hear it is going to be one hell of a crash.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Live and die

I was at a dinner party last week and a friend asked the group how long they hoped/wanted to live? He announced that he was thinking of 130 or 140. Another fellow offered 110, 120. I said that I would be happy if I could hit my next birthday.

I guess I should fill in the conversation a bit. The man who made the query was talking about the new frontier in aging and longevity. He mentioned the Google resident genius Ray Kurzweil, father of the concept of singularity, who he said was a sixty something who now lived in the body of a forty something. The first immortal. Some time ago Kurzweil came up with the idea of nanorobots that would course through your veins and keep your systems working optimally. Who wouldn't want to extend their life? Well, maybe me...

I looked up Kurzweil, who I have  touched on before here. Hate to say it but he didn't look so good to me.

The futurist, who wrote the book Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, is down to 100 supplemental pills a day from his high of 250. Undergoes weekly intravenous longevity treatments. Chelation. Much more. Think a super smart Keith Richards. And very self absorbed.

I believe that I am in the minority on this one. I would not want to live beyond what has been the norm the last forty or fifty years. I have packed in every ounce of life experience I could muster in my paltry sixty one years to date. I will leave with nothing left on the table, knowing I have gone for it at every opportunity. Will I have things left on my bucket list? Who doesn't. But nobody gets to do it all and it is a bit unreasonable to try, at least in my way of thinking.

I remember hearing an old Russian folk tale in kindergarten about a man who was granted his wish to live forever. As you might imagine, it quickly became a curse. Losing everyone you have ever loved. Tiring of life and never being able to undergo the cessation, the final sleep. Sounds horrific.

We seem to have a rather finite productive period in our lives. Even if it was extended significantly, an exponentially larger group of older people living past the century mark would put a large burden on the young. Is that fair? Those that have tried to eat of the tree of knowledge and desired immortality have been struck down in a plethora of myths since time immemorial, from Pandora to Adam. The first had an eagle eat his liver for eternity, while chained to a rock. Ouch.

Perhaps artists are somewhat different in how we wish to leave our mark, think Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin, the twenty seven club. Or those denizens of Thanatos who exercised even more complete control of their final exit, like Plath and Brautigan. Say your piece, make your mark and split.

I never thought I would make it this long, frankly. I was told by a doctor that I had no more than three days to live at the age of 16. After three years of fighting chronic interactive non a, non b hepatitis, my pancreas emptied out, my feet started itching, vomiting bile, I actually started the process of dying. Necrosis. Down close to 125 lbs. Won't go into the gruesome details, saved by my mother's care and prayers, I made it. Then the eight years of continual bladder and kidney cancer. Which returned twenty five years later.  And an incident after open heart surgery where Leslie and I were informed that I had less than two weeks to live. Which turned out to inaccurate but was taken very seriously at the time. And there have been more.

Call of death, 1934 - Kathe Kollwitz
I learned long ago to live for the day and be good with that.

When you face death on a semi continual basis, you make peace and stop clinging to life in the same way a healthy person might. At least in my experience. Appreciate the moment. But a desire for eternity? No thanks. You might wrestle with death but declare victory? I think not. When my ticket gets punched it gets punched. And I am most happy with that. Maybe people who have always been healthy can't grok that.

Infidel753 wrote something tangential to this conversation on his blog today; A century from now people will look back on our time, which passively accepts aging and natural death as inevitable, with the same pity and horror with which we now look back on the age that accepted its helplessness in the face of the Black Death as something normal.

I don't know why this type of thinking is so antithetical to my own but it is. I recognize that my attitude may be in the minority. I hate the thought of gene editing too, imagining a world of perfect children with perfect teeth with all the mad skills one might pick out of the catalogue. I personally don't trust humans with such power. But a large majority of young people today favor the practice. I think I am outvoted.

Can you imagine how world weary a centenarian might get, watching humanity continue to devolve and others continually repeat the same tired mistakes? Give me a final chapter any day.

Big day

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Don't worry baby

Our friend, the burrowing owl

Surf's Up!

Mike called yesterday and said that surf was supposed to be up to eleven foot high today and did I want to take some shots with him this morning? Sure. I met him at the market at six and after a quick stop at the donut shop for a cup of coffee we drove to Cardiff Reef.

The surf was pretty big and the form was excellent. Beautiful morning! We saw what looked to me were occasional sets with faces that were at least twelve feet tall and heard that they were up to fifteen earlier in the morning. Saw a couple of nice tube rides. And a lot of spectacular wipeouts.

Unfortunately not only was it a little hazy, I sort of forgot what I was doing and did not do a very good job capturing the session.

My autofocus was bogging down in the whitewater contrast and I should have tried to grab more depth of field.

Haven't shot the waves with the prime in over a year. Need to learn how to shoot surf photographs again. Next time!

Still I definitely had fun and can't wait to go back on another big day. We eventually moved to Swamis and the waves were even nicer there. Lots of people out in the lineup.

We drove up to Grandview, near my old house. That was real nice too. Afterwards breakfast at Honeys and good to go.

Hopefully next time I will have it a little more together! Thanks for driving, Mike.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

San Jacinto Postcard

Take off

My favorite Mongolian heavy metal band

Uighur Tragedy

There is no sadder situation in the world than what is happening to the Uighur people that inhabit the Xinjiang province of China.

A Turkic people, they have lived on their native Tian Shan for over 6500 years, they were incorporated into China by conquest in 1876. Xinjiang means new territory in Chinese.

There are said to be up to one million Uighurs in concentration camps in Western China called "re-education camps." Their language, religion and islamic cultural practices are now forbidden and they are in the process of undergoing "sinoization."

From Wiki:
Uyghurs in Xinjiang suffer under a "fully-fledged police state" with extensive controls and restrictions upon their religious, cultural and social life.In Xinjiang, the Chinese government has expanded police surveillance to watch for signs of "religious extremism" that include owning books about Uyghurs, growing a beard, having a prayer rug, or quitting smoking or drinking. The government had also installed cameras in the homes of private citizens.
Further, at least 120,000 (and possibly over 1 million)Uyghurs are detained in mass detention camps, termed "re-education camps," aimed at changing the political thinking of detainees, their identities, and their religious beliefs. Some of these facilities keep prisoners detained around the clock, while others release their inmates at night to return home. The New York Times has reported inmates are required to "sing hymns praising the Chinese Communist Party and write 'self-criticism' essays," and that prisoners are also subjected to physical and verbal abuse by prison guards. Chinese officials are sometimes assigned to monitor the families of current inmates, and women have been detained due to actions by their sons or husbands.
Beijing denied the existence of the camps initially, but have changed their stance since to that the camps serve to combat terrorism and give vocational training to the Uighur people. Yet, calls by activists to open the camps to the visitors to prove their function have gone unheeded. Plus, media groups have shown that many in the camps were forcibly detained there in rough unhygienic conditions while undergoing political indoctrination.The lengthy isolation periods between the two Uyghur genders has been interpreted by some analysts as an attempt to inhibit Uyghur procreation in order to change the ethnic demographics of the country.
I read an interesting article on the subject in the NYT the other day. Taking a page from Joe Stalin, the utterly ruthless and immoral Chinese are arresting Uighur poets, writers, intellectuals and scholars. Moderate and passive people. First slaughter the lambs. There are reports of mass murders being held in the camps which can not be corroborated because third party independent observers are not allowed entrance.

The concentration camps are being used to provide free or low cost forced labor. Some of the goods produced there have made it to the United States. Slavery. To companies like Baxter Sportswear.
“These people who are detained provide free or low-cost forced labor for these factories,” said Mehmet Volkan Kasikci, a researcher in Turkey who has collected accounts of inmates in the factories by interviewing relatives who have left China. “Stories continue to come to me,” he said.
The Chinese are also harassing Uighurs in foreign lands and threatening their families back in Xinjiang with retribution.

Is there a company more sinister and despicable than the current Chinese regime which appears more Stalinist, immoral and repressive every day?

Female shoveler?

Ten Years After

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Mommy, what did butterflies look like?

News came down the pike yesterday that the monarch butterfly population in California has dropped 86% in the last year.

With the second of two consecutive bad years, the monarch butterfly population in California has now dropped to less than 0.5% of its historical size.

We are right at the threshold of losing the population.
“While overwintering populations naturally fluctuate, even by double-digit percentages, the magnitude of this year’s drop is of significant concern because the monarch population was already at a new low after the 97 [percent] decline it has experienced since the 1980s,  leading to a situation which may be catastrophic for the western population,” the Xerces Society said.
Pesticides, herbicides, habitat loss and climate change are all thought to be contributors to the decline.


In other news, the last known member of Achatinella apexfulva, the Hawaiian Tree Snail, died New Years Day. The species is now officially extinct.

What did Rush Limbaugh once say, if they can't hang in the brave new world, who needs them?

Twilight hour, SJWA

Leonard Bernstein – Stravinsky: The soldier's tale

Magic Hour

Northern Shoveler

I went hunting in Temecula yesterday but pickings were slim so I decided to head up to the preserve in the afternoon. Go hunt with the camera instead. Already a quarter of the way there. Wasn't doing much of anything else.

As I drove up Davis Rd., a small car with two older women in it waved me down and stopped me. I must look like a birder. They told me that there was a burrowing owl not 25' away. I have never had a decent shot of one and was very happy for their help. Snapped some shots, hand held. Burrowing owls are the second smallest owl species, a mere 7 to 9" tall. This one was an adult.

They live in the ground, often adopting or sharing mole or gopher holes.

It was a nice harbinger of a lovely shoot. I saw all manner of birds, eagles, falcons, hawks, lbbs, shorebirds and waterfowl.

I had not been up there in the evening for a very long time and it felt good to once again shoot in the golden hour.

Dusk and dawn is when the magic happens.

I don't have adequate time to process today, life is calling, but will leave you with a few to hopefully whet your whistle.

I saw a few of my favorites.

Caught the black shouldered kite by accident in a tree. It was really starting to get dark at that point. Sorry, it is now officially known as the White tailed kite.

I saw the peregrine on the shoals at the Ramona Duck Club off Walker Rd., never seen him there before.

The place was fantastic as always, I was the only human around. Nice to have the intense beauty and calm to myself.

Red Shouldered Hawk

red winged blackbird

I am looking forward to seeing what else I may have captured. had a great hike, second in two days.

Must get there late again.

Nice electric sunset.

I love the big fat kestrels.
Black necked stilt

I will post some more shots once I get time.