Hawk on a wire © Robert Sommers 2022

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Ride of the Caballeros, Pala Mission


I bought this painting up in Santa Barbara last week. It really intrigued me.  I am a San Diego native with a real fondness for the historic past of our county, which reaches back to the great ranchos and Spanish land grants and of course, before that, to the local native population.

In addition I have a fondness for local artists, no matter when they painted. And this particular one, Isabelle Richmond, had somehow slipped by me and was actually from Fallbrook.

I had bought two or three of her paintings in the past but never knew anything about her. 

Frankly, I thought the paintings were by a man, Isa Richmond. 

I had no idea I was dealing with an ideo or pictogram until I saw the label on the back. Live and learn.

In any case, the painting depicts the Spanish soldiers receiving the flag from the friars at the Pala Mission, an assistencia to the San Luis Rey Mission located not very far from me, a place which they were then headed. This may have been a painting of a re-enactment, as part of an earlier forerunner to Cupa Days.

It was painted in oil, in July of1963 and exhibited at the Fallbrook Woman's Club, where our friend Kerry used to live. Executed with more skill than I have seen in her other works. A very nice North County painting. A question remains, Palomar District of what?

Isabelle evidently had a studio on her property on 1565 E. Mission, later owned by the Mathieu family. She may have eventually married a man named Reeve, information is scant.

I found a small blurb in the 1970 Fallbrook Enterprise about a solo show she was having.

And another one four years earlier, in Balboa Park.
I am a curious fellow and I love sleuthing about regarding local history and artists. If anyone knows anything more about this particular artist, or perhaps is in touch with oldtimers that might, will you please let me know?

And if you know anybody out at Pala or anywhere else that might want to own this lovely local canvas at a fair price, please pass it on!

Red tailed hawks feeding

7200 iso

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Spinal Tap - Gimme Some Money

Birds of a feather

A friend of mine was Van Morrison's manager once. Well, for about a half hour anyway, right until he jumped out of a taxicab and told Van to go fuck himself. I won't go into the sordid details but the story of what went down was unreal. Van has a reputation for being a real dick. I know, he has written some beautiful music, but he doesn't treat people very well in real life according to some people I know that know him personally.

The Health Minister of Northern Ireland sued Morrison last year for defamation after a year of Van spreading anti-vax conspiracy garbage. Robin Swann wrote an op-ed for Rolling Stone addressing Morrison’s public comments and the spread of misinformation as it relates to the pandemic.

“His words will give great comfort to the conspiracy theorists,” he wrote. “The tinfoil hat brigade who crusade against masks and vaccines and think this is all a huge global plot to remove freedoms.”

Not content to spread that covid is a hoax crap, Morrison apparently started with the blame the jews canard, like we all haven't heard that one before. His latest release, “Latest Record Project, Volume 1,” released by Exile Productions and BMG last May, includes a song titled, “They Own The Media.” He sings, “they control everything you do,” and it's not too hard to figure out who they are.

Van is not alone here. Last year he teamed up with fellow anti-vaxxer and conspiracy theorist Eric Clapton on a pouty song called The Rebels.

“Where have all the rebels gone?/Hiding behind computer screens,” Clapton sings. “Where’s the spirit? Where’s the soul?/Where have all the rebels gone?”

Well about 15 million of them are dead by the latest count, Eric. By that disease that you cried about because the vaccine made your poor hand hurt. The vaccine which saved countless lives of people who contracted covid and allowed them to survive.

In any case, the man and his crony have clearly lost their touch. Here are a few lyrics for their song, Stand and deliver:

Stand and deliver - you let them put the fear in you - stand and deliver, but not a word you heard was true. You wanna be a free man or a slave? Yadda yadda Dick Turpin wasn't wearing a mask. 

And you can see the lyrics for this right wing denier anthem if you want to, This has got to stop. What absolute bilge. Me, me, me, me, me.

Anyway far be it for me to jump on a man when he is down but I took definite notice that a few shows on Clapton's current tour have just been canceled because that infernal hoax has given the aging bluesman himself covid. This is the guy who would not play at places that had mask or vaccine requirements, remember? The man that said the push for vaccines was "mass formation hypnosis." Who is hypnotized now? Sweet poetry.

Eric Clapton, a critic of coronavirus vaccines and pandemic restrictions, has tested positive for COVID-19 and canceled two upcoming European gigs.

Clapton's upcoming shows in Zurich on Tuesday and Milan on Wednesday will be rescheduled, he announced on his Facebook page and official online site. The 77-year-old rocker tested positive following his concert at London's Royal Albert Hall on May 8.

"Eric is also anxious to avoid passing on any infection to any of his band, crew, promoters, their staff and of course, the fans," the statement reads. He hopes to be able to resume the tour starting with two concerts in Bologna on May 20.

"It is very frustrating that having avoided COVID throughout lockdown and throughout the period when travel restrictions have been in place Eric should have succumbed to COVID at this point in time," the statement reads.

Selfish, petulant, entitled, racist, rock star, baby. I have no respect for him whatsoever nor any respect for those that play music with him on this tour. He can do private concerts for Elon Musk and Donald Trump for all I care. Sort of fitting karma for old slowhand. I don't think you should take your advice about life decisions from either rock and rollers or golfers. Bloggers are alright.

Lightnin' Hopkins

We've all made mistakes.

Golfer Greg Norman obviously has a lot of faith in humanity and people's ability to change and modify their bad behavior. Recently he tried to deliver a positive message regarding the Saudi ruler's complicity in the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi dissident journalist was killed and then dismembered in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul under orders of the Saudi Crown Prince.

"Everybody has owned up to it, right? It has been spoken about, from what I've read, going on what you guys reported. Take ownership, no matter what it is," Norman responded. "Look, we've all made mistakes and you just want to learn from those mistakes and how you can correct them going forward."

Norman was then asked about 81 Saudi Arabian citizens being executed in a single day in March. “I got a lot of messages, but quite honestly I look forward, I don’t look back," he said. "I don’t look into the politics of things. I know the mission I have as CEO of LIV Golf and that’s how we can grow the game globally. I’m not going to get into the quagmire of whatever happens in someone else’s world. I heard about it and I just kept moving on."

"This whole thing about Saudi Arabia and Khashoggi and human rights, talk about it, but also talk about the good the country is doing to change its culture. There are not many countries that can stand up and be proud of that. They can't be proud of their past - there are a lot of countries in this world that have a cross to bear too - but they are looking after the younger generation."

And now the guy who tried to make everything nice appears to be on the outs with the royal family for not shutting up and towing the company line. Is it possible that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, is not quite as penitent and remorseful about the murder as the Australian golfer was led to believe?

From Amnesty International:

“Greg Norman’s remarks that the Saudi government’s brutal murder of Khashoggi and its attempted cover-up were a ‘mistake’ are wrong and seriously misguided. Far from trying to ‘move on’, the Saudi authorities have attempted to sweep their crimes under the carpet, avoiding justice and accountability at every turn.

“The regime’s human rights record is an abomination – from its murder of Khashoggi to recent mass executions and the situation for LGBTI+ people, which continues to be dire.

Give Bin Salman a mulligan, dude was having a bad day.

Now, I am not a golfer and have never met Greg Norman. Still, I think the lesson here is that when there is money on the table, people who stand to make a little dough are willing to overlook just about anything. And sports figures, especially golfers, might not be your best sources for accurate or balanced information regarding current events.

Jamal Khashoggi (1958-2018)

4 + 20

San Jacinto Roadie

I needed an afternoon off after the big trudge, three shows in a month has wiped me out. I drove up to the wildlife area. If you want to go north on the 15 you better leave by two, I left at 2:30 and hit the traffic.

I finally got to the reserve and realized that there is very little water this year, driest I have seen it. Push pull between agricultural interests and wildlife I suppose and guess who wins?

So I really didn't see much.

A few ducks, egrets, red winged blackbirds.

Very few raptors with the exception of a couple falcons. No kestrels, if you can believe it.

My favorite dead tree has fallen, one that I have taken a thousand kestrel pictures on. Entropy strikes again.

I did see a few bullock's orioles around, which is unusual there, or perhaps one bullock's who really got around. Didn't get close enough for a good snap.

Saw a small coyote running around, a couple squirrels. I drove out to the Walker Ponds. No yellow headed blackbirds but did see this peregrine falcon launching.

Never get tired of watching falcons fly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Pearls before swine


I'll Be Gone

More eagle shots

Santa Barbara trip


Santa Barbara show was not too stellar. 

I managed to cobble a small victory together but some of my peers, who brought beautiful material, tanked.

I think the stock market is scaring people as is the talk of recession. 

A good client of mine died in March, I saw her husband and gave him my condolences. 

Not enough young people interested or with money to buy, others on their way off the set.

I ate rather well, had a few pops, caught up with friends and clients, but was honestly hoping for a better show. 

Three shows in four weeks, I am toast.

We drove up to Lake Cachuma Saturday morning, it is really nice up there.

Did catch the eclipse on the way home, which was pretty incredible.

Better luck tomorrow.

Been too long at the faire

SCOTUS Snowflakes

"There is no right to be free of unwelcome speech on the public streets while seeking entrance to or exit from abortion clinics." Justice Antonin Scalia

In 2014, the Supreme Court ruled, in McCullen v. Coakley, that a Massachusetts law which makes it a crime to stand on a public road or sidewalk within thirty-five feet of a reproductive health care facility violated the First Amendment.

The protective buffer was struck down and anti abortion zealots were now free to harass a woman right up to the clinic's door. And they did.

Threats and violence against abortion providers have only increased and the people that work in these clinics are routinely targeted, both at work and and at home. 

Here are the latest stats I found, now two years old:

Abortion providers reported an increase in death threats and threats of harm, rising from 92 in 2019 to 200 in 2020.

We saw a 125% increase in reports of assault and battery outside clinics with members reporting 54 incidents, rising from 24 in 2019.

Internet harassment and hate mail and harassing phone calls rose once again this year. Providers reported 3,413 targeted incidents of hate mail and harassing phone calls, rising from 3,123 in 2019.

There was a slight decrease in the reported number of picketing incidents in 2019, which is likely due to a decrease in anti-abortion protester activity in some locations at the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Providers still reported 115,517 incidents in 2020—which far exceeds any other year since we began tracking these statistics in 1977 except for 2019 when there were 123,228 incidents reported. Picketing is also an area where we expect there was underreporting in our 2020 data.

NAF members reported an escalation in aggressive behavior from protesters during 2020 so although there was a slight decrease in picketing, the activities were often more intense and disruptive.

115,517 incidents. 54 assault cases. But that is presumably okay with the Supreme Court because it is a theologically homogeneous court that abhors abortions and we all know that those that aid women in their reproductive health choices are godless heathens and heretics, who would be burnt at the stake if the originalists had their way, and it honestly looks like they do and it is coming.


“It is no accident that public streets and sidewalks have developed as venues for the exchange of ideas. Even today, they remain one of the few places where a speaker can be confident that he is not simply preaching to the choir. With respect to other means of communication, an individual confronted with an uncomfortable message can always turn the page, change the channel, or leave the Web site. Not so on public streets and sidewalks.” Chief Justice Roberts - McCullen V. Coakley

So let's get this straight. Four SCOTUS justices have their homes picketed in the wake of the Dobbs leak and the cries and anguish from the right rises to the level of a tomcat's caterwaul over the supposed threats and intimidation, free speech be damned.

But attempt to tell an anti abortion nutcase to mind their own business when a woman wants to see an abortion doctor and you are now trampling on divine free speech? I am not sure that I get it. But I unfortunately think I do.

Now I know that picketing a judge's residence is against the law and it is not something I would probably ever do personally. But please spare me the selective indignation. Talk about snowflakes. One free speech right for thee and another for me.


Florida bans residential picketing with intent to "harass and disturb" but doesn't define what it means to harass and disturb. Guess they will know it when they see it. 

Probably worried about pissed off rodents.

Alito cites Sir Matthew Hale, a 17th-century British jurist who conceived the notion that husbands can’t be prosecuted for raping their wives, who sentenced women to death as “witches," a man who described women as “chargeable, unprofitable people” who “know the ready way to consume an estate, and to ruin a family quickly.”

Fasten your seat belts and grab your buggy whips and pitchforks, looks like we are in for a real interesting trip back in time.

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Turkey Vulture


Beaumont Rag

Pearl clutching

Maine Senator Susan Collins (R) is living in absolute fear

Some audacious criminal left the following threatening message in chalk on the pavement outside in her home; 

“Susie, please, Mainers want WHPA —–> vote yes, clean up your mess.”

The horror! She called the cops on the miscreants.

By the way, WHPA refers to the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify the right to abortion into law and ban restrictions on abortion access.

The cops were not terribly concerned, probably closet liberals.

“The message was not overtly threatening,” Bangor Police Spokesman Wade Betters said. 

Not sure how the good Senator even gets out of bed when faced with these wanton acts of aggression and malice. Next thing you know they will be playing jacks and hopscotch. Maybe even jumping rope?

Hope she can find the inner strength to marshal on. But as a general rule I think anybody that takes the time to put a circle or uterus on top of their pink letter i is not a really serious threat.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Captain Beefheart - Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles

Happy Birthday, Friends

For some reason a lot of my oldest friends have been born in the astrological sign of Taurus. I get along with Taureans. 

It is Brett Stokes birthday today.

And Ron Holder's.

And Michael Evans.

Big Dave's was last week.

Weird how many Taurus friends I have. My wife and mother are born on the same day, August 23. My ex was also a Leo. I marry Leos and make friends with Taureans.

Trip to the lake

The idea was good, the execution and reality not quite what I expected. I invited my photo buddy Ken out to the lake to shoot some bird pics. He has a fancy new mirrorless Nikon Z9 that can do everything but brew cappuccino and wanted to put a few more miles on it. 

Not a camera I could ever afford and probably nothing I need but very wonderful with lots of new technology packed into its sleek black chassis.

The day was cloudy and a bit chilly. Not optimal for the light lens I brought, last time I had the heavy 400mm 2.8, much sharper and better in low light.

I took the tiller the first time out. The bass boat moved too quickly on the water to get a decent focus with my old technology so I just enjoyed playing host to my friend.

Not a lot of birds around, nothing like the last time I had circumnavigated the lake. Red winged blackbirds, mallards, coots, vultures and a few blue herons, not much else.

There were lots of beautiful grebes about, a bird whose looks have always intrigued me. Many swallows of multiple types but much too fast to capture adequately on a gray day. Very nimble and elusive creatures.

Heck, what do I care? It was a really nice day to be out in nature, digging the unspoiled beauty. Not a problem to be happy and content on a fine, if monochromatic day.

We switched positions, Ken steered the boat and we made another pass around the lake. I was all set to call it a day and a good try when I spotted the lovely raptor high in the oak tree about a hundred yards away.

Now I did not get a perfect shot, I think Ken did. But perfection isn't really the aim at this point, at least with the gear I had at hand.

This was plenty good at 500 iso. My shutter speed was high because I figured he was going to fly and I wanted to be ready.

Always a thrill to shoot an eagle, I get such a rush.

We snapped a bunch of shots, both very happy for our score. 

Ken managed to get a great one with the bird's mouth open that caught me off guard. 

Of course his camera takes fifteen shots a second and it is a little easier to nail the intervals that way.

Poor me.

We got our fill and then went to see if we could shoot the herons that the buzzards had run off on our last lap.

They were not to be seen. We decided to go back to our eagle and see if we could catch him feeding but he was gone when we returned to his previous roost.

All raptors have nictitating eye membranes to protect their eyes from dust. This is a third eyelid which they can see through.Yesterday I shot this picture of a bald eagle in North County. Their membranes are evidently much less opaque than other raptors I have encountered, almost fully transparent.

I always feel blessed and privileged when I take a picture of an eagle, really can't explain it.

We packed up and went to our other secret spot to see what we could find.

We headed back to the eagle's nest, the clouds finally starting to break a little bit.

Both eaglets were in the nest but one was hiding, we only saw its wing for a second. We sat and watched for about ten minutes. In the flash of an eye, the adult male flew in with a meal, which we could not catch. It happened so fast. But we did get some of the aftermath.

This adult is not tagged so it is the father.

Quite probably the same male we saw by the lake.

What a great day!

Decent shots with the equipment at hand and a lot of amazing visual memories that I will have forever.

I'll take it. Happy Mother's day! And to you too mom, in case you are listening somewhere out there in eternity.

Couldn't have made it without you.