*

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snowy egret © Robert Sommers 2022

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Bill Medley

Sunday stuff

 

I received the new license plates for the ProMaster and stuck them on the van today. I had a dashboard notification the other day that one of the license plate bulbs was out so I bought some new ones at O'Reilly.

I watched a YouTube video about replacing them and made a feeble attempt before calling my friend Tom over to help. He futzed around for about twenty minutes and finally managed to replace it.

Tom is one of these guys with an angelic diet, hardly eats any meat, sweets, etc. I thought I would tempt him over to the darkside by inviting him to accompany me to the new Winchell's for a donut.

Neither of us had ever been there and I wanted to see how it was. We have a great donut shop in Fallbrook near Major Market and I was wondering if it would give them any real competition. I hear that their bagels are decent.

I ordered a glazed and a croissant, Tom had a chocolate glazed. I bought a small container of milk. I asked the girl about their most popular donut, a crumb filled and said what the hell, throw that in too. If you are going to sin, you might as well make it count.

I must tell you, the local donut shop has nothing to worry about. I ate the crumb but both the croissant and the glazed were so oil filled and inedible that they quickly found their way to the closest trash bin. Drank the remnants of the morning's cold coffee to try and wash out the aftertaste. Probably will never go back.

*

There was an estate sale of fine art in Fallbrook this week, a bit of a squirrelly event, I think. It was advertised on EstateSales.net. Grasons put it on, it continues this week. Estate of a lawyer named Ippolito, I did not know him personally.

There were about ten or fifteen things I was interested in, was third in line when it opened last Wednesday. I talked to the owner of the estate sale company, a franchisee and affable guy. I told him I found it curious that so many items came from the Palm Springs Stewart Gallery, at least one of them something I had previously sold them.

Anyway, none of the pieces I was interested in were actually on the floor. I wondered what was actually going on and told the owner that something felt very strange with the sale. Where was the Spruance, the Rockwell Kent?

I ended up buying four items but was a little put off by the omissions. Nick said that they would be out the next day. I got there first thing, only to find Stewart Gallery owner Phil there early and all the pieces I was interested in now marked sold with his name on them.

It was the old bait and switch, the deal had obviously been made prior to the sale. Didn't seem real square to me. I guess that is his choice to make but please let the rest of us know and don't waste my or our time next time. Don't advertise items for sale when you have no intention of selling them to the general public.

It creates bad feelings.

The Inner Mounting Flame

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Maher

 

Bill Maher's show had some interesting perspective last night, one that I largely agree with. I cut and paste from Fox:

"Blind hatred of America is just as blinkered as blind love. And we Americans should really get some perspective about where we live," Maher began his monologue. "Watching this shit go down in Afghanistan, I was reminded lately of every conversation I've ever had with an immigrant, almost all of which if we got to really talking, included the notion, ‘Oh, you people have no idea. All you do is bitch about and badmouth your own country, but if you knew about the country I came from, you'd stop shitting on your own.’"

Maher poked fun at Republicans for being "overly sentimental" when it comes to patriotism and "over-romanticizing" America, but blasted liberals for "under-romanticizing" America and accused them of "having no perspective."

"Last week, the Taliban murdered a comedian," Maher said, referring to Afghan comedian Nazar Mohammad, who was tortured and executed. "A comedian, a thing like that really hits close to home for me. I've had two presidents up my a--. … Neither experience was pleasant, but I never had to worry about being dragged 'til I'm dead behind a Toyota Tacoma. Have a little perspective about the stuff we howl about here." 

"I'm sorry your professor said something you didn't like. That won't be a problem with the Taliban because you're not allowed to go to school. In Saudi Arabia, grown women can be jailed for doing the kind of things we think of as routine without the permission of a male guardian. China rounds you up if you're the wrong religion and puts you in camps," Maher said before listing several other injustices around the world. 

Maher told his viewers, "If you think America is irredeemable, turn on the news or get a passport and a ticket on one of those sketchy airlines that puts its web address on the plane. There's a reason Afghan mothers are handing their babies to us. And we should take them. Americans, right now, should take in Afghan refugees into their homes and into their neighborhoods."

"We're not the bad guys. Oppression is what we were trying to stop in Afghanistan. We failed, but any immigrant will tell you we've largely succeeded here. And yet, the overriding thrust of current ‘woke’ ideology is America is rotten to the core, irredeemably racist from the moment it was founded and so oppressive, sexist and homophobic we can't find a host for the Oscars or 'Jeopardy!'" Maher exclaimed. 

And this is where your new [Afghan] roommates that you took in will prove so valuable because they'll turn to you and say ‘Have you people lost your fucking minds?!?… Have you ever heard of honor killings, public beheadings, throwing gay men off of roofs, arranged marriages to minors, state-sanctioned wife-beating, female genital mutilation, marriage by capture? Because we have.'

"What's the lesson of Afghanistan. Maybe it's that everyone from the giant dorm room bitch session that is the internet should take a good look at what real oppression looks like," Maher continued. "Ask your maid, ask your Uber driver, ask the Asian woman giving you a massage. … America may not be the country of your faculty lounge and Twitter dreams, but no one here tries to escape by hanging on to an airplane. No, we wait 'til we get inside the plane to fight – and only because they cut off the beverage service."

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Salon - Evangelicals and the vaccine 

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And so it starts... sounds pretty persuasive to me.




During an interview with The New York Times, published on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Taliban said that "music is forbidden in Islam."

Zabihullah Mujahid, who is seen as a likely contender for the new government's culture minister role, told the paper that the Taliban is hoping to "persuade people" not to perform music.

Under the previous period of rule, the Taliban banned all music, apart from some religious chants, according to The Guardian. Cassette tapes were destroyed, musical instruments were forbidden, and even captive songbirds were outlawed, the paper said. 

It's not only music that the Taliban intends to crack down on. According to India Today, female voices on TV and radio channels have also been outlawed.

Merlin

 

I shot this picture of a merlin in 2015. 

Merlins are one of the smaller falcon species in North America. 

The series of shots I took in the evening light at SJWA are the only merlin shots that I have ever captured, try as I might.

In any case, I believe that I saw a merlin on a telephone pole near my house in the riverbed coming home yesterday. 

Did not have a camera nearby. 

It was larger than a kestrel and smaller than a Cooper's Hawk. I called my birder buddy Beth and she said that it would be highly unusual and rare for the location but that I should make an incidental report on EBird, which I did.

I saw it again as I left the house this morning, will bring my camera home with me tonight, just in case.

Too Late

Woodhouse's Scrub Jay

 

I wasn't sure what to make of this jay I saw at Randall Davey in New Mexico. He looked a little different than the scrub jays that hang around my feeder in California but I couldn't quite put my finger on it.

A bit sclerotic, I know he is an old bird, I saw a house finch there that was also sort of ancient looking.

But there was something else too. I did some research. 

I believe that he is actually a Woodhouse's scrub jay. 

The blue chest band is indistinct and the white area above the eye is very small comparatively.

It tends to inhabit pinyon and juniper pine areas in the arid sections of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.

The Woodhouse was not even officially identified until July of 2016 when it split with its left coast cousin, the California Scrub Jay. 

Until then it was assumed that they were the same species. 

The blue on this sub species is said to be a little less intense and I think I see that.

It is named for Samuel W. Woodhouse, a doctor and naturalist who accompanied expeditions to the Southwest between 1849 and 1852 and wrote about his discoveries.

Friday, August 27, 2021

P.P. Arnold

Right to spell, right to spell right

 

A friend of mine came to coffee this morning wearing this t-shirt, which could either favor a peace amendment or the second amendment but I am betting on the latter.

I believe that the combination of a word and a picture is referred to as semantic compaction but ­čĹü might be mistaken. Could be a form of ideogram.

What I found particularly funny about the shirt was the fact that the word ammendment (sic) was plainly misspelled and wondered what sort of editor was supposed to originally proof the thing, if any? 

If you can't trust somebody with a typewriter can you really trust them with a gun?

You know I am a spell nazi. I asked my friend about it and he laughed. 

Said he knew it was misspelled but after all these years, I was the only person that ever caught it.

Not sure why but that doesn't make me feel any better either.

Afghan stew

 

The Afghan pullout could not have been more mismanaged. What an extreme clusterf*ck.

Biden deserves condemnation, not for pulling forces out but for doing it in such a clumsy way. 

Still, the Taliban agreement was made by his predecessor and after twenty years in Afghanistan, I believe that it is time to stop the bleeding and the money drain and bring our people home.

Trump said he would have done so much better getting our people out, but he said that he would have a better ACA plan too, he said he could do lots of stuff and failed to deliver. In any case, giving the Taliban a list of the names of our people so that they could eradicate them was absolutely imbecilic on the part of the Biden Administration. I hope they don't display the same type of na├»vet├ę with the Iranians.

However, if you want to find a person to blame for selling out our Afghani translators, allies and accomplices, look no further than Trump stooge Stephen Miller.

“It’s extraordinarily expensive to resettle a refugee in the United States. They get free health care. They get free education. They get free housing. They get free food. They get cash welfare,” he said on Fox News last week. “If the United States takes the policy that every person suffering under Sharia law has a right to live in the United States of America, we’re going to have to make the room for half a billion people.”

Forgetting the domestic blame game, for a brief second, if that is at all possible in these overheated and hyperbolic times (Biden would be impeached for jaywalking if the GOP had their way) I have a rather heartless take on the situation. I think that the Afghani people have mostly themselves to blame for their national state of affairs and I think the entire country has been playing a dangerous double game on its allies for years, much like the Pakistanis have. 

Let them reap what they have sown. Not our job to fix them, nor Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras for that matter. You don't like it at home, rise up. You want to go back and live in the dark ages, have at it. We are plainly not very good at nation building and we need to stop trying. It is a no win proposition. A thankless job and one in which our best efforts are rarely appreciated.

*

I met an Afghani Pashtun man at the show in in Albuquerque who told me that he had a shop in Tucson. I brought up the current situation and he scoffed. I asked him why the Taliban were such expert fighters and the Afghan army so pitifully inept and he laughed.

He told me that the United States and the west had been ripping off his country for years. The country was sick of it and sick of western ways. The reason the Taliban have had such stunning and rapid success is because they are supported by the Afghani people. They have buy in. Ex Presidents Karzai and Ghani plundered the office and only thought of enriching themselves.

I asked him about the situation with women and sending them back home and closing the schools and he accused me of western bias. "You see a woman in a burqa and it offends you," he told me. I told him that it did not. He said that what I had heard was lies and propaganda and that I did not understand the muslim faith.

Perhaps he is right. But what does offend me are the killing and subjugation of women and girls, the honor killings, the targeting of journalists. Religious fundamentalists are once again establishing a toehold for Al Qaeda, ISIS and Sharia law. But it is up to the Afghanis to do something about it and if they want to fester forever in their cesspool, so be it.

But they have a definite payback coming regarding the airport killings and if I was Biden I wouldn't make empty promises. I would learn from the Israelis and act first and make all the necessary apologies later.

Honestly, it offended me talking to this Afghan man. I don't know why we allow people like this to live in America, really, people so inimically opposed to our way of life and who support the enemies of Western civilization in such an extreme way. How about a one way ticket back to Kabul?

Leonard Cohen and Julie Felix

Bad Faith

Cardinal Burke
REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/file photo

One of the saddest occurrences in America is that the cultural war is morphing into a religious war, often taking shape as a battle between faith and science. A good illustration is the recent hospitalization of Cardinal Burke to the Covid 19 virus. The longtime conservative covid conspiracy buff and denier was placed on a ventilator at a Rome hospital.

During a homily last December, Burke called covid the “Wuhan virus,” a phrase referring to the city where covid originated and made popular by former President Donald Trump and his allies that are now considered derogatory. Burke also claimed, “it has been used by certain forces, inimical to families and to the freedom of nations, to advance their evil agenda.”

He went on to criticize fellow members of the church for not believing they’d be protected from the virus by believing in Jesus.

There have been of course, many stories of Covid deniers unfortunately learning the hard way that the good lord wanted them to make responsible decisions based on science. And many of them, sadly, continued to deny rationality and reason on their deathbeds and subsequently to their graves.

Like the unvaccinated nurse last week who lost both her baby and her own life, Haley Richardson. What a sad story. This was her last post: 

"Here in the dark, in the wee hours of the morning, it is so easy to pretend that all of this was just a nightmare or that I'm just here in this hospital bed due to my own issues with COVID," she said. "Not for anything being wrong with my sweet baby girl whom I thought I was protecting in my own womb."

She continued, "I know the prognosis and I know the reality. And while part of me may start to acknowledge this, the other part of me still believes God is still the God of miracles and is in control above all else. I hope and pray for miracles, but having said that I am also praying for his will to be done. If there has ever been a time to ask for something to be taken out of my own hands and put in his, it is now."

Haley made her choice and ultimately it was a fatal one. Of course it is easy for me to suggest that god gave her a brain for a reason but there are many people in this country who think that Jesus is going to protect them and that they don't have a worry in the world. This attitude has even surfaced locally this week.


Two children from Springs Charter Schools in Temecula, Drew and Victoria Nelson, were banned from attending class because they refuse to wear masks. Evidently they will not wear masks because their father Gary Nelson says that they are in fact tools of Satan's oppression.

“The Bible says we’re made in the image of God and Satan tries to cover that up. A mask is a sign of oppression,” Nelson said Thursday. “If it was Muslim, Jewish or something of a more high-profile minority religion in this country, yes, they would have accommodated ... just to say they weren’t discriminating based on that religion. But they feel safe because it’s Christianity.”

Rather than perceiving that the mask requirement was drafted to protect them and their fellow students, the father sees it as a case of religious discrimination. How do you reason with these people? Why are they so blinded by their pious self righteousness that they fail to see that they are harming their fellow citizens and the greater good? Pure selfishness if you ask me.

Of course the news wire is riddled with similar stories these days. Rick Wiles, Wade Morris, Greg Locke, Tim Parsons, Danny Reeves, Darrell Boone, there are just too many faith leaders who have gotten sick or died of Covid to count. And many of them were very fine people, I am sure, loved by many. But they picked an emotional or faith based response instead of a scientific one and paid the ultimate price. Use your head, god gave it to you for a reason. 

One of the things that makes America so great is that you are not forced to think and believe as I do and I don't have to believe like you do. The slippery slope occurs when your or my bad choices or beliefs endanger the public at large. Wear the stupid mask, especially if you are not vaccinated.

Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Year That Clayton Delaney Died

Rufous hummingbird, Randall Davey

 

I didn't do much birding in New Mexico. Everything was pretty perfunctory. I did see a life bird at Steve's house, a canyon towhee, a very common bird thereabouts but new for me. I saw a pine siskin and some local regulars but not much else to speak of.

Food talk

I still don't feel so good after my trip. Heavily fatigued and beset with a slight but lingering brain fog, it might take a few weeks to put my shop and affairs in order. I had an invasive immunotherapy treatment two days after my return and while they are not as bad as chemo the effects are in no way pleasant either.

Will continue these post cancer maintenance treatments on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future.

Feeling shitty, I went home early yesterday, to try to regroup. And I hope it goes without saying but feeding the blog is not a priority when I am feeling like crap. I am going to take my time trying to resurface, heal and rest a little bit.

Feeding myself, of course, is quite a different story and I thought that I would regale you with tales of recent repasts in order to keep the blog continuity thing going and in case anyone out there is interested in my gastronomic wanderings and excesses.

But please, if you feel like chiding me, I have already heard from Big Dave about my diet and he was far off base, accusing me of neglecting vegetables in my carnivoric indulgences. Honestly, nothing could be farther from the truth, those that have dined with me know that I treat my body like god's holy temple, that is if the god is one of those fun loving types like Bacchus or Krishna.

I haven't talked about food much lately so will start with a meal in Encinitas at the Il Trulli Trattoria that the Sommers shared with the Calvins, great friends from Phoenix.

I had a gigantic veal chop that was superb. I probably started with a salad, can't really remember. Sue Calvin is a true foodie and she made a tactical error, ordering the veal chop milanesa instead.

Don't ever do that, I made that mistake in Parma. You end up eating this dry thing that tastes like sandpaper, always forgo the breading.

My great bgf  Lena loves Il Truli, especially their lobster ravioli. 

Afterwards we took a nice walk to Swamis and looked at the ocean, enjoyed a lovely North County evening.

The trip was not exactly a gustatory home run. I will try to remember the high points. Tommy's in Barstow of course. Have to get a chili burger if I am rolling through town.

Albuquerque is a bit of a fog. Great breakfast at Duke City Kitchen. Incredible tigas dish, homemade biscuit and jam. Fabulous. I told some fellow dealers and they were eating there every morning after.

A shmatta dealer I know said that we should go to Sadie's on Fourth one night, best Mexican food in the world. It wasn't.

I was going to go out with Terry and Vickie for Japanese food and somehow it turned into a very expensive meal at Ruth's Chris

Expensive or not, it was awesome, split the porterhouse for two with Terry. Great service, great food, they gave us our own room for the large party. My favorite steak house.

Got to Santa Fe Sunday night and had a great goat curry at India House along with vegetable samosas and naan. I am not a huge lover of Indian food, sometimes my stomach can't take garam masala but this was wonderful. Not cheap but excellent.

see, an avocado.

The next day the trade blanket impressario and I had lunch at La Choza. Weakest posole I have ever eaten, don't really understand the buzz. Interminable wait. Sopapilla could not have been more blah.

The Calvins and the once funny comedy writer Barry Friedman who knows nothing about food had a meal with me at the Santa Cafe on the spur that was great. 

New owners and menu, the incredible ahi tuna tartare is now history but I had a wonderful moroccan lamb chop with cous cous that was exceptional.

Santa Cafe is still my favorite spot for good food in Santa Fe, new owners or not.

We dined at the  Opuntia Cafe for lunch at the top floor of the Railyard the next day, I had a good cuban sandwich and a nifty local root beer. Nice open place full of quite beautiful people.


That night I dined at Jambo, the African Caribe place that has been a longtime favorite. I had a trio of lamb curry, goat curry and a peanut chicken dish.

It was good but I suggest you skip the coconut shrimp, four measly overcooked orphans on a small plate. They have plainly forgotten how to cook them.

Several foodie people I respect had told me before the trip to eat at the glorified comfort food restaurant Arable

Guy Fierri did a vlog on them a few months back. 

They are located way the hell out in Eldorado.



excellent soul rolls...





I ordered the chicken mole nachos, not the best choice. 

Others at the table had shrimp and grits and a very good bison osso bucco fries dish, which they liked. 

Finished off with an apple green chile tart that they called a pie. 

Place was good but not earth shattering. Almost a little too funky. Had a great group there in any case.


Gee, what else? Went to Paper dosa one night, was not impressed at all. My local dosa joint is much better.

Had a good sushi dinner with Bradford at Kai on St. Michaels after a ridiculously long wait.

I was invited to a meal at one of the tonier places in town, Sazon, but after driving around for about ten minutes and failing to find parking for the big truck, sought cheaper if not more accessible pastures.

My friends who went loved it, said it is the best food in Santa Fe right now.

I had several good meals at Los Potrillos, one of my sleeper haunts. Mexican food in Santa Fe, not real easy to find.

I had birria the first night there, a bit soupy and the great pork ribs they serve the next. 

Watching Warmboe eat a jalape├▒o and get all weepy was worth the price of admission.

Santa Fe in August is not complete with me until I get my breakfast trout at La Plazuela at La Fonda which has been changed on the menu but is still good. Great breakfast with Joseph and Linda and Mr. Funny guy.

Some of the pics came out sideways and I am too tired to straighten them so you will have to work with me and visualize.

Mornings were either the Pantry or Wecks. I love the corn beef hash at the former, Wecks serves a red chile egg dish that was so hot it was inedible but the pancakes were good. People like Wecks because it is cheap and the food is decent. Hit the Plaza Cafe one morning for flapjacks too.

One night Friedman and Voracek and some friends of theirs all met me on Alameda at Pho kim. I couldn't help repeating the name over and over, the o in the first syllable being soft. 

I love the name of this place and the food was even better. I had the imperial soup of the old capitol Hue, Bon Boi Hue. It was great.

Warmboe and I spent our last night out dining at the Bullring. I had a great veal chop, ate far too many vegetables this trip and my body was craving flesh frankly. If I remember correctly, he had the prime rib. 


I was a little down my next to last night in town and decided to hit Denny's for the pot roast. Man did they destroy that in two years. It was actually pretty good before.

Steve and I hit Harry's Roadhouse on the way out to his place. I had the turkey meatloaf and almost got into it with a big mouthed tweaker but kept my cool.

That basically wraps up the food portion of the blog for the month. Stopped at John Feldman's for great coffee and even better challah on my way out of town.

And before you start chiding me and waving your finger in my face over my diet, think a little bit. I am on the road for three weeks. I don't have a kitchen. You want me to start grazing on chamisa and black eyed susans? Man has to eat.

*
It was Leslie's birthday Monday. We went to the Temecula Creek Inn and dined at Cork / Fire Kitchen, which was just awarded a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. We were seated on the patio with a  view of the golf course.

We started with a grilled romaine caesar and iron skillet brussel sprouts, which are of course everywhere today. (If there was truly bacon candy in them, as advertised, we never saw it.) Still both dishes were tasty and delicious. This is a true farm to table place, most of the veggies grown a hundred and fifty feet from the kitchen.

I had a crispy skinned mallard duck and she chose the bistro steak with chimichurri. My duck was a tad oversalted but still quite edible. She loved her meal. Service was great. I will definitely be going back. Afterwards we went to the casino, something we do about once a year. We both won money, me at blackjack, Leslie at the slots. A great day and birthday for my wonderful wife!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Dandelion

Chipmunk, Randall Davey

 

We have a lot of squirrels where I live but not a lot of chipmunks. So you will have to forgive me if I am a little slow on the taxonomy and identification of this little critter I shot out at the Randall Davey Audubon Center in Santa Fe.

I think that I have to assume that it is a least chipmunk although there is a rare Pe├▒asco least chipmunk that has been found not too terribly far away. Doesn't look like a gray footed, that is for sure. Awful cute, no matter what species he is.

Jigsaw Puzzle

Pecos Bound

 


I don't care how funky I may feel, or if the muse has temporarily split town, it is nigh impossible for me to visit New Mexico without driving up to Pecos Pueblo for a looksee. 

This year was no different. 

I had a day off between the Santa Fe shows and drove northeast to the site of the ancient ruins. 

I have got some epic shots there in the past, the weather and clouds always hit the Pecos area with a lot of juice.


This year I got there and the sky was ready to just open up and spill. I would have to be fast and I would have to be lucky in order to get a decent shot. I put a rain jacket on, in case I had to give the camera some cover.


I was still suffering from altitude sickness but managed to plow up the trail to the site without croaking. Some snotty tourists from Spain were posing with the site closed do not enter sign in their arms like they had snagged a prize trophy. Showing lots of respect. Can't wait to go back to Espa├▒a and return the favor.

I can read and I got out of there. This would not be my day for photography but I managed to get a walk in and back to my car before it started to pour like crazy and even hail and I grabbed a couple shots along the way for posterity. Whether keepers or not, I have developed a strange kinship with this place and will keep shooting there as long as I am physically able to.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Los Lobos

I had a hard run

Running from your window

I was all night running, running, running
I wonder if you care?
I had a run-in
Run around and run down
Run around a corner
Run smack into a tree
I had to move
Really had to move
That's why if you please
I am on my bended knees
Bertha don't you come around here anymore
Bertha - Robert Hunter
© Ice Nine Publishing Co., Inc., Ice Nine Publishing Co. Inc.

It was a tough run, these last three weeks on the road. Can't think of a more difficult stretch of shows. My one decent day was followed by a forty five dollar day, when things are going this way it is a real emotional roller coaster. I will have to re apprise the possibility of going back to New Mexico next year, or at least doing these three shows back to back.
One of the problems I was having was physical. My asthma was kicking up. Add to that the mask requirement and the high elevation and I was plainly fighting for oxygen, at least the first week or ten days in the Land of Enchantment. Sinus's felt bad, skin felt bad, everything felt bad.
Do you ever wake up from a heavy sleep with fragmented, disjointed thoughts that make absolutely no sense at all?  That was what my brain was like the first three or four days in Albuquerque. I was freespooling. It felt like a bad acid trip. 
I am smart enough to mostly cover up this sort of thing but when you don't feel altogether right it shows and it certainly didn't fool those old native women.
*
Three weeks, as I said, is a long time on the road. At this point, having just arrived tired from traveling home for two days, I don't believe that events were interesting enough to give you a full blow by blow. I will do a quick mental scan and see if I can land on anything interesting.
I took very few pictures with my camera. It didn't come out of the bag for over a week. Never felt it. Went out to the Randall Davey Audubon Preserve with Warmboe one day and snapped a couple birds but it was cloudy and nothing special.
We took a hike up the adjacent preserve and I felt better afterwards. A hike often straightens me out. I will talk about food at another time, had a couple decent meals but nothing exceptional. Mostly hung out with old friends, which is always good.
I drove back on one of my favorite stretches of Route 66 last night, Seligman to Kingman. Almost took a picture of a golden eagle, it was too far away. Almost stopped and shot some horses but thought better of it. I almost took a picture of the junk yard in Kingman this morning, the early light looked lovely reflecting off the huge mountains of twisted metal. Almost took pictures of the funky flea market I shopped at six o'clock this morning but it was a tad too pathetic. You get the idea, the camera stayed in the bag and I never found my gait or my second wind.
You can't win them all as much as you would like to.
*
I saw something cool and a bit strange in the middle of the Mojave desert today, miles from any water source, an osprey on a pole. I called birder pal Beth, she looked it up, that is where they go for summer migration. Neat.
Had breakfast at the Ludlow Cafe this morning, a first for me.
Decent, considering.


Pharoah Sanders - The Creator Has A Master Plan

Sheepish

I have learned a few things during my sixty three years on the planet but have to admit that any understanding of a deity or supernatural creator is way beyond my pay grade. Not saying there is, not saying there isn't, telling you I don't know and that I don't plan to spend a lot of time worrying about it if there is one.

Have probably offended "papa cloudsitter" long ago anyway and am beyond redemption at this point in any case if he, she, they happen to be keeping score.

Still, things happen on occasion that show me that when the universal power is not calling balls and strikes, it has an occasional great sense of humor that can't be explained by mere coincidence.

I am in Albuquerque doing a show a few weeks back. An older woman with long straight auburn hair comes into the booth, a woman who looked a bit rough and also like a person accustomed to a life of hard work.

"People tell me I need to talk to you."

I asked her what was up? Turns out she is a sheep rancher from a long line of sheep ranchers in Roswell.

Her mom and dad were friends with the great artists Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth. She showed me a metal fireplace screen that Peter supposedly designed for the family and a schmaltzy baby picture of her painted by Henriette that I couldn't see anyone outside the family having any interest in.

Both were nice but without provenance and signatures I have found that such leads are usually not worth pursuing, especially for the huge numbers she was asking for them. I decided to couch the bad news regarding my lack of interest with a bawdy sheep joke or two, just to humanize the situation and to make sure that there were no hard feelings.

A driving instructor asks the sheep farmer if he can make a u-turn? The rancher says no, but I can sure make her eyes bug out.

She laughed and answered me with a similar joke so dirty that I will not repeat it here on my r - rated blog. Evidently sheep farmers can get a little salty. And she was apparently just getting started.

It was at this point in the story that I had the divine visitation or epiphany that has me now questioning all of my prior atheism and lack of faith.

She is on a roll, as I said, and starts off, "There is a sheep and this midget..."

Lightning struck at that very instant and I suddenly felt like Moses on the hill. For at that exact moment in time, an older midget woman walked into the booth. Now what were the chances of that happening? I frantically put my fingers to my lips in a shooshing sound but she could not be waylaid, midget or no midget in the booth, she was going to finish her joke.

I actually punched the sheep farmer in the arm, which I subsequently grabbed as I led collared and shepherded her to the front door, she would not be muted, all the while she was braying out the punch line to her awful joke, at the top of her lungs, which I wasn't even trying to understand in my sheer angst and terror.

I can honestly tell you that in thirty years or more in the business, I don't recall a real dwarf or midget ever entering my booth until that very second. Ever. What are the odds of seeing one now, right in the middle of a terrible joke regarding the vertically challenged and a sheep?

I know that in an infinite universe these sorts of coincidental random quarks are bound to happen but I am going with divine message, thank you very much. See you in church.

Friday, August 20, 2021

I Used To Be A King

Marching towards the cliff


It saddens me to read about pediatric covid cases soaring in places like Texas and Florida while their governments fight sensible mask and vaccine mandates in schools. 

Irrational and seemingly suicidal. 

And my mind keeps going back to the excellent book written by the late historian Barbara Tuchman, The March of Folly.

Tuchman shows many examples in history where faced with a myriad of safe choices, governments and rulers will find the one narrow route that is sure to ultimately do them in.


From Wicki:

The book is about "one of the most compelling paradoxes of history: the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests."It details four major instances of government folly in human history: the Trojans' decision to move the Greek horse into their city, the failure of the Renaissance popes to address the factors that would lead to the Protestant Reformation in the early sixteenth century, England's policies relating to American colonies under King George III, and the United States' mishandling of the conflict in Vietnam.

When political considerations trump rational behavior and result in the death of the citizenry and children, I think it is time to find new leadership.

Thursday, August 19, 2021

John Phillips

Turn of fortune

 


What do you know, had a great day, made a bunch of money, all is good.

Thanks for playing along at home.

Nanci Griffith

Notes from the field

Things could certainly change but this trek to the southwest has not been your scribe's finest hour, at least from a financial standpoint. I am starting to sweat a little bit. 

Two days left and I don't think I will be able to pull it out at this point. We will see. 

I have been in this position plenty of times before and have been saved but I am not counting on it and it is getting harder for me to keep my game face on. Not feeling sorry for myself, just stressing, please excuse me.

It is beautiful here in New Mexico right now, perfect cool weather, short afternoon rainstorms and I am happy to be in the marketplace with my comrades after a two year break. 

But none of my three shows have really fired and I have largely failed to connect with the marketplace in a meaningful way.  With huge expenses and the cost of goods I am afraid this whole near month on the road is setting me back financially at a time when I needed to move forward.

I could come up with a million excuses for my troubles, some of them probably valid. Crowds are down due to covid, people and dealers are scared to come out. The Delta variant continues to wreak havoc. There are about 30 to 40% less dealers here, but that is every show I have attended in the last couple months. The pandemic caused an enormous attrition and has shaken the antiques and decorative arts business and a lot of people aren't ever coming back.

I think the bigger problem is my material. I am what you might call a Swiss army knife dealer. I like to say that my knowledge base is a mile wide and a quarter inch deep. I sell items that span the decorative arts, from classical to modern, soup to nuts, all year long. 

My peers and competitors are specialists that might do a couple shows a year. They tend to be much more attuned to the fine points of their market than I am and they frankly know the material better than I do.

I have done Indian shows in Marin and Santa Fe for close to thirty years and in some strange way am still an outsider if not a rookie. The business is built on relationships and I have not forged enough of them with this material. Pots, baskets, paintings and expensive big ticket items were not moving, jewelry was and I didn't have enough of it.

The noted chemist and engineer Owsley was an acquaintance of mine many years ago. On more than one occasion he remarked that my problem was that I was always trying to play pinochle at a poker game. So I got to Albuquerque and tried to play poker at a poker game, a novel approach for me. 

Verrier said my stuff was too good for the venue, not sure if that was true. In any case I went back to playing pinochle at the poker game at the Objects show in Santa Fe, with a very personal mix of stuff and failed to fire there as well. Didn't resonate, couldn't seal the deal. 

The trip started out hot and got even hotter. 

Past Needles the thermostat in the car read 119 degrees at one point, by the time I took a shot with my phone it had dropped a degree lower. 

New van ran really well, no issues whatsoever. I think I made the right call buying the ProMaster. Great air conditioner, in any case.

I made it to Flagstaff the first night after a requisite stop at my cafe stop in Seligman, Westside Lilo's. My favorite waitress was not there but all of them are nice and I had my customary angus patty and eggs.

Now this trip started out about three weeks ago or more, so forgive me if I am a little foggy on the initial stages. 

I remember having to stop at a gas station for a little personal relief and in a grossed out pique thinking that there should be a special hell reserved especially for the people who purposefully leave a steamer in a public bathroom without flushing them. What the hell is the matter with you?

I got to New Mexico the second day of travel, after the normal stupid traffic slowdowns near Grants that will probably continue for another hundred years. 






Albuquerque show setup is a blur now but some of the colorful characters floating around made the experience memorable even if it was not particularly remunerative. I snapped a couple shots with my cell phone.

People in New Mexico are not very constrained in a fashion sense, for good or ill.

I have two recollections from the show to share with you that I think are worth mentioning. I had a signed Chagall poster that a man was interested in.It was rather expensive and I gave him a break that he accepted after a quick phone call.

He called his ex wife. It was a very quick conversation. "Do you still like Chagall?" Click.

I guess the man, a devout sort of fellow who worked for a Focus on the Family offshoot in Colorado Springs, had recently divorced his wife of twenty nine years. He had initiated the split. The divorce has just finalized and he evidently realizes that he has made a mistake.

The purchase was a peace offering to win her back. It wouldn't fit in his convertible so he was driving the whole way back with the top down. I hope to god he didn't hit weather. I believe in happy endings and asked him to keep me posted on how it all turns out. Wonder if she hit him over the head with it?

The other bizarre encounter I would like to share was when two older Pueblo native women came into my booth. They quizzed me on the origin of some pueblo pottery material, turned out they were sisters from Isleta.

They actually found pottery in another booth that one of them had made with her grandmother when she was a child, some seventy five years prior I would estimate. But they came back to my booth and decided to lay a trip on my head, saying that they could not buy from me on account of a mysterious force field that they said existed around my face.

I tried to stay as gracious and amenable as possible but was too tired to really appreciate the spiritual diagnosis and head shrinking and thought it was in poor taste to have it delivered unsolicited, reikian force field extant or not. 

Did think it a little strange when she started moving her hands around my face and certainly took stock in the odd vibes she maintained I was putting out. You see a thousand people a day at a show and you are performing in a way and it is not always easy to put on a perfect face. Not everybody is going to always dig you. But who knows, maybe they are on to something?

Albuquerque ended and I drove up the 25 to the next stop, Santa Fe. I checked into the older Lamplighter motel, the Gujrati owners were wonderful. Place was nice and clean would be perfect for my four day pit stop. 

Went next door to the Indian restaurant and had a great goat curry. actually ate a lot of goat this trip, one of my favorite meats. Good vegetable samosas at India Palace too but everything was a bit pricey.
My off day is a bit of a fog. Lunch at La Choza with Barry for the weakest posole I have ever eaten. 
Barry is a good friend, a great dealer and comedy writer but honestly his record regarding food over the years has not been so stellar.

We set up for the Objects show on Tuesday. 
My buddy Bill from Burlingame sharing the booth with a showcase displaying his jewelry.  We had a nice time but the show was not our finest hour financially.


At one point in the show a girl wandered in, with the aid of a walker. She had distinctive lightning bolt earrings and lightning bolts on her shirt. I like to banter with people light heartedly and told her that I sensed a definite theme here.

I was shocked when she started to speak. As it turned out, she had a remarkable story. Her name is Tess and she spoke with a pronounced stutter and an unfortunate cognitive impairment. 
Eleven years ago she was an archaeologist and was out on a dig in a monsoon. She was struck by lightning and it had obviously both defined her continuing existence but had also given her a personal totem­čŚ▓ now handling life as best as she can.

People are really quite amazing. Just when you think that you have seen it all...

to be continued...