Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Hillsborough was a rather long drawn out affair. Not a lot of painting buyers, some people did really well. I snagged a couple sales.And as so often happens, sometimes you have to buy your way out of a humdrum show. I found some wonderful things this trip.Like this 40 x 40" Stark Davis (1885-1950) Macaws painting, haven't had one in a long while. I have always loved his work.Needs a serious cleaning although some people like these paintings with their age old patina. Would look beautiful in a Spanish revival plaster walled home.
I also found a Rembrandt etching of an old man seated in a chair, circa 1630 as well as a cool Helen Bregar modernist work at the show. A large Philip Moulthrop figured Tulipwood bowl. A Richard Misrach photograph of the Golden Gate. A Beulah Stevenson painting of clam diggers.An elderly gentleman with a huge collection of paintings that he has amassed over many years invited me over to his Danville area home. I bought some real beauties from him yesterday morning on my way home.
Del Mar Show starts tomorrow, if you have an interest in any of these, please call today and I will give you a price! If you get a chance, come by the show and see them and all the rest of the great new inventory I have bought of late.all the best,Robert SommersBlue Heron Gallery
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
I checked the blog. It has been a mere three years since I visited the famous French Basque restaurant in Los Banos. It feels like an eternity.
The Wool Growers has been open since the 1890's and I don't imagine a lot has changed in that time. What a meal I just had!
I took my time leaving this morning and making my way up the Central Valley. Why rush? I checked into my hotel around five and asked the owner about food recommendations. Great Mexican a stone's throw this way, Italian on the other side.
But I knew that I was too close and I had to return to one of the most simple and unique places that I have ever encountered. I so rarely get an opportunity to eat this sort of food.
I walked about ten blocks through the old yet clean downtown streets to the familiar corner.
When you venture into the Wool Grower it is easy to close your eyes and pretend that you are in a foreign country.
I only heard Basque and Spanish spoken around me tonight. Rather than the farmers and hunters I encountered on my last visit, these were certainly sheep herders. The language was beautiful, the laughter robust.
This is peasant food, not an ounce of pretension anywhere.
I decided to be smarter this time. Last time I filled up so early I could barely eat my entree, a choice of tri tip, lamb or pork. I asked the server to scale down the nine course meal and he was happy to oblige.
The stew was superb as was the entree. Simple, rustic fare, completely unpretentious and absolutely delicious. Nothing fancy but totally real and pure. Unaffected.
It took me back to my youth on the island of Ios in Greece, eating at a remote taverna on the backside of the island and dining on a freshly caught rabbit stew and homemade red wine. Heaven, indelibly etched in my gustatory memory.
Or feasting with the Pueblo Indians at San Ildefonso on the day of the corn dance, I was once again a visitor sharing a food experience and fare that goes back hundreds of years and is yet to be despoiled.
I left with the biggest smile on my face I can remember having leaving a dining establishment in a very long time. I will be back!
Monday, April 18, 2022
I've been actively interested in family genealogy since as far back as the seventies and eighties, I guess. Used to go to the National Archives in Laguna and pour through ship manifests, sort through obscure microfilm at the Weisenthal Center, pester relatives who would rather not talk about it, I left no stone unturned (nor any turn unstoned for that matter) in my quest for a little information about the mishpucha.
This was in another era kids, before anybody had ever really heard of the internet. It was much harder then and any small victory was achieved through a hell of a lot of sweat and hard work. I loved the research, frankly.
Later I had my DNA tested, my autosomal and mitochondrial plumbed and my Y chromosome sequenced, the first one in my entire haplogroup to do so. I didn't find a couple cousins, I found over 30k of them, complete with email addresses. Enough already.
Seriously, the quest has been very rewarding. But it could have been much simpler if somebody at the start had said, "Hey kid, guess what? We are all related." Because it is not too far off. We Yids are what is known as an endogamous population and you throw a little Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation in and everybody is related to everybody, I tell you. And honestly I probably shouldn't even mention bacon this close to a major holiday.
I have been a subscriber to a free service called Geni for years but have not done all that much with it. I belong to about six of these genealogical tools. It is a great place to create a family tree if you have or don't have a GedCom file. The other day I decided to upgrade to their GeniPro trial for two weeks. Expensive but cancellable. Boy, did I hit paydirt. Geni gives you both blood and in law relationships, it is quite a valuable tool for researching family history. It fills in a lot of gaps.
Yesterday I discovered that two of my closest and dearest old friends Lena and Ricardo are both closely related to me and each other through my Father's maternal grandmother Chana Grosbard. It was very exciting. Similar news for my friend John Feldman. Another connection to Chana. Click on a red link and see the connection.
|John Van Neumann|
I shared this info with my cousin Keren, who is the true DNA maven in the family and she suggested I try Lev Landau, another famous physicist. Check. One question, how did the cousins get all the brains? What am I, chopped liver? As we all know, life isn't fair.
When I was a kid my parents used to brag about their kinship with the great yiddish writer Sholem Aleichem. They were right. I guess we were related. But funny thing, it was supposed to be through my mother. Her side of the family is strangely absent from my searches, still to this day. Not sure why.Napoleon. This confirmed the familial relation through my sister in law. Cool. Kissinger? Of course. Golda Meir? Yes, through my wife. Barry Goldwater? Was there any doubt? Another Grossbard link. Notorious RBG? You bet.
Well, who else should I check? I went for music. Bob Dylan? No problem, well at least related to his daughter in law anyway. Jacob, we'll be over for dinner.
I kept with the music. Leonard Cohen? Bingo. Bette Midler? Divinely so. Cass Elliot? Zoftig, baby. Again through my wife. Joey Ramone? Gabba gabba, yes. Kinky Friedman? Si. Michael Bloomfield, Chicago cousin through Buzz.
Milton Berle. Bugsy Siegel. Phil Silvers. Hedy Lamarr. George Burns Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Lepke Buchalter. Yes to all. Even Meyer Lansky. Killers to comics, apparently the family did not discriminate. Barry asked about Julius Rosenberg? Of course.Lenny Bruce. Born Leonard Alfred Schneider. And this lefty, again through my Grossbard line, Sandy Koufax.
Damn, the world is getting smaller every day. And it ain't like I'm anything special. Yossi the Schmeckel, the bum at the racetrack, has all the same connections I do. It is a very large and mostly quite productive family.
Even has a past President of the United States.
I look forward to taking more pictures when I return from my work voyages.
Hawk babies are awfully cute!
Saturday, April 16, 2022
I don't normally make these sorts of rookie mistakes but I did this morning. I saw multiple orioles buzzing around my feeder and grabbed the camera, neglecting to check that the ISO was on auto. I didn't get enough light on the sensor, basically and without light, you don't get accurate focus. I flubbed a whole bunch of shots.
The great thing is that there is always another day to correct and get it right!
The neighbor told me that she saw baby heads yesterday in the nest. I have not as yet, so I don't feel like I missed anything today. Here is mother this morning.
Friday, April 15, 2022
Interesting article at Newsweek, Russia still seeks regime change, to turn Ukraine into "Rump" state. Very sobering, sounds like they are in for the long haul. Shades of Hungary in 1956 and Czechoslovakia in 1968, the Russians evidently don't share the rest of the world's definition of what constitutes a sovereign nation.
They have announced their intention to decimate the country and for once I think we should believe them. And over here we have hair splitting d-bags like Rich Lowry trying to argue the difference for what really constitutes genocidal and just plain awful behavior. See Russia not committing genocide in Ukraine.
Lowry and Carlson deserve a front row seat in hell for their enabling and little love fest with Putin. If I was Finland and Sweden, I would join NATO so fast their head would spin. And the rest of Russia's neighbors, Moldova, Lithuania, Estonia, etc. should be under no allusions that they are not the next "neighbor" whose head is on the chopping block.
Top ten signs you might be at a Republican Seder:
10. They refuse to answer the four questions without a subpoena.
9. They demand a recount of the ten plagues.
8. They defend not increasing the minimum wage on the grounds that according to Chad Gadya it still costs only two zuzzim to buy a goat.
7. The afikomen is hidden in the Cayman Islands.
6. They refuse to open the door for Elijah until they see his immigration papers.
5. They attack Moses for negotiating a deal with Pharaoh because why would we negotiate with our enemies?
4. They don't understand why the Egyptians didn’t cure the plagues with hydroxychloroquine.
3. They omit the parts about slavery from the Haggadah because it reminds them of Critical Race Theory.
2. They keep saying “when do we get to the miracle of the Jewish space lasers?”
And the number one sign that you might be at a Republican seder:
1. They end the Seder by singing "Next year in Mar-a-Lago."
Happy Passover! And for you mixed couples out there, Carol sends this along...
Thursday, April 14, 2022
Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.*
Shawn in Thailand has been delving into strange recesses again. He sent me the following snippet from Giraldus Cambresis, better known as Gerald of Wales.
Remarkable, indeed. Now I have never been to Snowdonia, nor even heard of it, think the Marx Brothers might have visited it once in a movie. Sounds a little far fetched, but as I said, I wasn't there. But if Shawn can dig, it is only polite for me to find out a little more about old Gerald.
In my short cyber wander, I have seen his birth listed as 1145, 1146 and 1147 so I can safely say that accurate information about the fellow might be scant. He passed in 1223, around the age of 77, depending on the accurate birth year. The son of royalty, he was a clerk to the King and an archdeacon in the church.
He was a respected scholar and wrote at least ten major works, many of them stories of Wales and Ireland and the strange taxonomy present in both faire lands. In hindsight many of his writings seem quite fanciful but also show a wild imagination, with a particular proclivity towards inter special whoopee.
I include a few odd things that I chanced on when cursorily examining his work:
|An illustration from 'Topographia Hiberniae' depicting the story of a traveling priest who meets and communes a pair of good werewolves from the kingdom of Ossory.|