Juvenile red tailed hawk with clean and pristine feathers

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bobby throwing thunderbolts

Zeus here. The I read the Blue Heron Blast t-shirts will be available very soon.

Printed on high quality cotton t-shirts you will be able to order yours in either gray or blue.

Sizes are limited and the small initial run is going to sell out very fast. No telling if there will be a second one but hopefully there will.

The artwork was created by my old friend Brett Stokes.

I hope that you will wear the shirt proudly, proclaim that you are a blast reader to the world.

I am going to sell them for twenty bucks a pop, shipping included.

Should be another week or so. Let me know what size you wear and what color you like and I will put you on the list. Mail me at azurebirds at gmail.com for an address to send your twenty. First come, first served.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Old Bonsall Bridge

Last time I visited the old abandoned bridge there was a billy goat living underneath in a pup tent.

Ken and I approached gingerly the other day. Just old paint cans this time.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Fred Neil & Vince Martin - Morning Dew

Mail bag

Jonathan Hill from Santa Fe has sent me so much good stuff and I don't ever thank him. Thanks, Jonathan.

Like this one, Sacred Earth Time Lapses - http://www.terra-sacra.com

And this, disabled students making music with brainwaves.

Audiophiles can get pressed into a 45 when they die.

Warmboe has been raising caterpillars up in his Burlingame backyard. And they are turning into beautiful butterflies before his very eyes.

I did a similar thing with a morning glory chrysalis when I was a young kid. Remember getting quite emotional when he flew the jar.

Even an occasional baby praying mantis.

Jeff sent this cartoon down. I happen to like it.

Jeff sent this view of Denali he shot on his way to work. Ho hum...

Saylor sent a pic from New Mexico of what might be a lunar landing and a coopers hawk in his metate.

Mike Reardon sent this picture of Leslie and pooch friend at open mike night.

Poor Mike, this is his view from Maui right now...

Ricardo's waterspout - Thailand

Bradford sends this pic of a pretty theater he saw in Arkansas. Forget the exact town.

Shawn got a little too close to the beautiful but extremely venomous Paradise Tree snake in Thailand.

Tragedy averted!

Eddy Arnold - You don't know me.

Baby steps

I spent an hour with Ken yesterday at the brewery setting up the new camera.

This morning we took a walk around the Los Jilgueros Preserve and put our D810's through their paces.

I want to be very comfortable with it before we get to the Grand Tetons.

It was cloudy but we made the best of it. I was using the nikkor 35mm 1.2 d.

I don't have any zooms or many lenses at all for that matter that will work on the new full frame Nikon and glass is very expensive.

I am quite happy, in fact ecstatic at the resolution. No problems getting into a shooting routine.

Very stoked with the upgrade. Just wait...

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Oxbow Bend

After a lot of internal wrestling and bargaining with myself, I went ahead and bought the finest Nikon camera one can buy yesterday, a D810, maybe the best camera available on the market, period. I could make a good case for that anyway. Hope that I am worthy of it. A trip to Yellowstone very soon and I wanted to shoot it with the finest camera I could find. Now it is all about affording equally expensive FX glass. You only have so much time in your life, once in a while you have to live and do the things that make you happiest!

Wish me luck, good light and slow bears!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Old Blue


My brothers and sisters  (and I) had a pretty tough ride when I was a kid. My brilliant but erratic late mom liked to drink and take pills. She also favored rather toxic relationships with men that had us all clinging to the flotsam after the inevitable wreck. Mutually assured destruction. Cue marriage number two.

Don was certainly brilliant as well, a rocket scientist and engineer. Off the charts i.q., well over 200. Early Allied Radio builder, grew up in depression Berkeley, picked apricots in the summer in the Central Valley. Bombardier navigator in World War II. I was maybe five or six when he stepped into our lives. It might have been okay for a year or two and then things started to unravel. Their relationship reached some fission like equivalent and destroyed everything in the perimeter like a neutron bomb. Drinking increased and regular beatings ensued. Some good times too of course.

I am not going into a blow by blow. Suffice it to say that at some point the wheels came off the track.

Three of the four Sommers kids never had a family of their own, not having any idea at all of what a normal family or childhood looked like after what we went through. Buzz had kids. He was young and sidestepped a lot of it. Not like I was an angel in any case.

Johnny was born in 67 and he was also too young or lucky to be a recipient. We others weren't so fortunate. But that was then, this is now, need to focus on the good parts. He taught me photography, we did play a lot of chess. He was certainly a genius. Loved our great danes, our english sheepdog, Emily. Like my real father, a brilliant mathematician.

It is tough for a kid when you love somebody in authority but see that they are also unfortunately very sick. Things got very bad for our family. I interceded once in a physical altercation he was having with my mother and that was the end of it. Would have been better for he and Adelle to never get involved except they did have a wonderful son, my brother. I can't say I blame him so much. She drove us crazy too.

He came to Leslie and my wedding and I hadn't seen him since. We got along fine that day and it was great to see him. He got into transactional analysis and reevaluation counseling and remade himself in some way. Got in touch with the softer side. I was around before that.

Got word about a week ago that he had died. Living in Santa Paula, he may have been drinking and hit his head. Nobody found him for about five days. Laying right there on that carpet stain.

I was driving to the show through my favorite Camulos Valley on the 126 and was talking to Buzz on the phone. He said that brother Johnny might be very close. I called and he was at the Santa Paula Police Department getting the water shut off not ten minutes away.

I met him at Don's house. Don had been having a spinal problem and was in a lot of pain before he died. Guy must have been near or past 90. House was a wreck, very disheveled. Old and in severe pain. And still lots of booze.

My brother said that he had become a much nicer person as he got older and I am glad and believe him. He told me that he also had close friends and a girlfriend. I am glad he wasn't alone.

Johnny was good enough to give me his  father's Yashica camera, very similar to the one he taught me how to use when I was six or seven. The house was full of Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston and Judy Dater posters. Lots of photography books. He must have influenced me a lot, come to think of it. Old scientific instruments. He had copious diaries, back to 1967.

He always liked dates and nuts. Living in Las Cruces and El Paso in the mid sixties, we would visit nut farms as a kid. Mesquite beans. Cotton fields. Beer and Oso Negro. Old Crow. He now had a nice selection of rainsticks. In his spare time we would sometimes go to rural Chihuahua and install air conditions in the poor colonias so that the villagers could escape the intense summer heat. I once watched him save a man from a burning car early one morning in Alamogordo.

I dug up a couple old purple iris out of the yard. Nice to be there with my brother John and his fabulous wife Connie. A sense of completion for all of us. I loved him in a strange way. Maybe Stockholm syndrome, who knows? I bore his name for many years. I learned a lot from him. Hope he found peace along the way.

Our wounds define us, as much as anything. All of us.

Great to see John. To be with him on this part of the journey. Fitting.

As I was leaving John showed me his father's tarot deck. Pull a card, I tell him. He pulls the five of cups. My memory of the cards isn't so good at this point but not so hard to figure out the card of loss and heartbreak. But a few cups are left standing, all is not lost. I have a certain ambivalence. He was sadistic at times, but nobody gets a dress rehearsal in this life. We all wing it.

Thanks Don, for the good times. Gallup Ceremonial, cross country trips, your incredible late son David. John Matthew. I am sure you did your best. Hasta la vista.

Cry for me baby - Elmore James

Laguna de la Concepcion*

Agave at the Santa Barbara Mission
I have had a few friends and readers contact me recently, to ask me if everything was okay, after all, the blog has been awful quiet of late.

Truth be told, I have been away at an antique show and don't really like to broadcast my absences for a variety of reasons.

The show was held in Santa Barbara, it went pretty well, keep the wolves from the door and all that. I barely made it home last night, I was dead tired, screaming at myself to stay awake and slightly delirious on the long ride home.

But I wanted to make it back in time for my wedding anniversary, which happened to be yesterday, Twenty second, twenty six years together if you are scoring at home. I did and it is wonderful to be back with my sweetheart.

It was beautiful up there, and the trip went pretty swimmingly if you don't factor in a mild case of food poisoning, which I will talk about in a second. And some family stuff, which I will get into another time.

My routine at these shows is pretty much the same after all this time. Hang the lights, electrical and paper the first day, then go play. Second day, hang paintings, fill case with objects, clean silver and apply requisite labels. Then go find another diversion.

The first day I did my thing and then bugged over to Los Agaves for one of their astounding mojado burritos. The second day I setup and then went and visited some bookseller friends, ate one of Angela's wonderful homemade cookies and appreciated a fine Santa Barbara succulent garden. Afterwards I drove up Mission Canyon and walked the loop at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, which has been around for about 90 years and has a great selection of native flora and redwoods.

Matilija poppies
I can't believe that I had never visited before but I hadn't. Everything in its time.

Santa Barbara has some of the best landscaping and gardens in the whole state if not country and I got a few ideas for my own place.

I climbed the hill across from the entrance and caught nice views of the mountains and ocean. Walked to the old reservoir, which reaches back into the 17th century and the padres. 

Afterwards I went to the lovely Santa Barbara Mission and snapped a couple shots before I was to meet Bill, Kat and Cam at Super Rica for a lovely feast, never complete without their pulpy agua de sandia, watermelon juice for you gringos.

Friday was the show opening. I stopped at Garret's for breakfast and then proceeded to get down to business. Only had a few sales but they were good sales and I am grateful. Thank you, people.

That night I accompanied three nice young ladies to the Lark, one of the hippest new spots in the City's "Funk Zone."

I don't have time for a full review but will tell you that three out of four of us came down with food poisoning. Not sure if it was the lamb or the octopus.

Weird night, our server was injured during her shift and we never saw her again. Food a serious disappointment, would never go back. Will maybe go into it later if I have to.

We called the manager, have yet to hear back. If you go to the Lark have the Brussels sprouts with the medjool dates. Everything else was a disaster.

I drove down to the Carpenteria Bluffs Preserve the second morning and walked around, enjoyed the view and the fog.

Second day of the show was kind of dead, third picked up and I managed to move a couple choice items. Drove through Hope Ranch, one of the finest neighborhoods in the whole world. Indescribably nice.

Now I'm back.

*Portola and Crespi's later name for Santa Barbara, circa 1769.

Monday, May 9, 2016

For The Turnstiles

Ben Rhodes, spin doctor.

Obama administration's soul brother Ben Rhodes admissions in the recent article The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru by the New York Times Samuels are remarkable in both their candid honesty and their arrogance. Once again the curtain is pulled back and we get a look at the cynicism and duplicity of this administration in regards to mid east policy.

We now know that Iran wasn't moderating its message, that Obama was going to shoehorn a nuclear agreement come hell or high water, no matter what the regional consequences and that the Washington news corp is incredibly easy to fool and sell a false narrative to. The myth of a moderate Iran. And that the conversations with the hardliners started far earlier than they let on.

Somebody was pissing on our leg the whole time and it wasn't raining.
"All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” Rhodes said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”
In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” he admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”
There are a lot of good reactions out there, you might want to get up to snuff by reading this one by David Reaboi, Ben Rhodes Reveals How Obama Duped America Into The Dangerous Iran Deal.

Rhodes is now backpedalling but it appears the damage has been done.


Interesting to read about Leon Panetta's doubt regarding Obama's longstanding assurances to stand behind Israel when and if all hell does break loose. Now the ex Secretary of Defense isn't so sure. And I wouldn't be either.

Obama has used every possible opportunity to stick the knife in Israel's back and he continues to do so. When the Iran deal was unfurled and it was apparent that Iran would have another $150 billion to funnel to Hezbollah and Hamas the President vowed to maintain Israel's qualitative military edge. Then he not only tried to strong arm them with a lowball MOU but now has included a proviso that U.S. aid can only procure U.S. weapon systems, a clause that would decimate the Israeli economy.

Soon he will join with his european allies and Russia and initiate the final act, censoring the Israelis on the world stage and insisting that they commit national suicide. Things got personal between Obama and Bibi and our President holds a mean grudge. He will not be satisfied until the Jewish state has been brought to its knees.

Obama deserves a lot of credit in certain areas, including fixing a devastated national economy, but his over reliance on his vaunted brilliant transformational powers, his historical myopia and his failure to protect his allies have turned him into a foreign policy nightmare.

Ambassador Dennis Ross - Why Mideast leaders are turning to Putin.
"In the aftermath of the nuclear deal, Iran’s behavior in the region has been more aggressive, not less so, with regular Iranian forces joining the Revolutionary Guard now deployed to Syria, wider use of Shiite militias, arms smuggling into Bahrain and the eastern province of Saudi Arabia, and ballistic missile tests."
Fred Fleitz - National Review Junior Obama NSC Staffers Lied About the Iran Deal and Are Running U.S. Foreign Policy 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Storm Windows


I threw some clothes on and drove through the narrow river canyon to the mailboxes this morning to get the Sunday morning newspaper. We have a deal. Leslie makes breakfast, I get the paper. Caught a red tailed hawk high to my left on my way out.

Thankfully the horse trailers weren't there yet, I still had my canyon to myself. Saw a mountain bike yesterday and shuddered.

When I got to the road I noticed a big blue heron on a dead tree.

I looked around the van and noticed that I had my old Sigma 50-500mm behind the seat, ensconced there for just such an occasion. It is a damn good lens, haven't paid attention to it of late with the newer 150-600c. I quickly stuck it on the camera and adjusted the iso and shutter speed, hoping that it didn't fly away.

Rats, the camera wouldn't come off 1/250th of a second, I experienced a little camera hell. The bird even laughed at me.

I did this and that and finally got the dumb camera to do what I wanted somehow.

I was surprised how close he let me approach before flying away, ultimately alighting on top of a telephone pole in the old pumpkin field.

I saw a bunch of birds on the way back including this coopers hawk and a flying woodpecker. Nice day in the canyon.