Rapt attention

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Partita in A Minor, BWV 1013: I. Allemande (arr. for harmonica)

I discovered only recently that John Sebastian of the Loving Spoonful, had a father John Sebastian Pugliese (1914-1980) , who was one of the greatest chromatic harmonica players the world has ever known, perhaps Larry Adler was his only peer.

The classical musician released over 17 records on a variety of labels. His son was a damn good harp player too, quite the musical family.

Egret at San Elijo pondering its existence...


Yesterday was sort of a sad day for me. A friend and picker confided the day before that he has multiple myeloma and a limited run expected. My cupboard is near bare and I have too many hopes resting on an upcoming show that can always go south. A good client confided that they will not be coming to the show and will be visiting the east coast instead. The Congress is engaged in a stupid game of chicken without a possible decent outcome in sight. A friend told me that he was a bit depressed. Join the club.

Cardiff compression

I drove up the coast and joined my pal for a walk through the San Elijo Lagoon. I didn't get many decent shots but I met wonderful, joyful people the whole way through that brightened up our day. Sort of forgot that we were supposed to be bummed out.

I shot a picture of a Ridgway rail, not sure I have bagged one before? 

Maybe I have.

I actually shot a picture of a striped mullet jumping out of the water. A total accident mind you but I captured it. But the picture is so mediocre that it is not worth publishing. The water was very clear and we saw this big fish under water. I think it could be a corbina. It was pretty huge.

I saw a peregrine falcon in flight, missed the shot. Missed a lot of good shots. Should have put the prime on and lugged the heavy thing around; I wouldn't be bitching so much today. Oh well. Caught an egret pooping...

Met a nice docent from Torrey Pines with a keen interest in botany. She showed us how an insect was boring into the willow leaves and causing a crazy symmetric new growth pattern. Also had a nice talk with a ranger or parks and rec lady who worked on site at the lagoon.

Saw some beautiful butterflies, I will give you that.

We met a very nice couple from Switzerland, Rolf and Esther, who were visiting and dealing with a sudden personal loss.

They graciously consented to a picture.

We finished our walk  and I visited some great friends on the coast and then had dinner with Lois and Bob.

It turned into a nice day, in spite of it all.

As I clumsily tried to say the other day, never forget that one day you might look back saying that these were the good old days...

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Thai Peruvian chicken over rice.

I made a fusion dish tonight, out of my head, with food that originates continents away from each other. Actually I amalgamated elements from three recipes and pulled some ideas out of the ether for good measure. I thought that a Thai approach would blend favorably with the unique favor set of the Peruvian pepper.

Did it work?

Yes, I would have to say it did, after a quick save from my wife. But caution and care is needed to find the appropriate middle ground.

I patted some chicken dry and then gave it a salt, garlic and onion powder and Peruvian aji panca rub. Added a bit of paprika and cayenne. I was cautioned not to use black pepper as it fights with the delicate flavor of the aji amarillo. Did add a healthy dash of red pepper, for a little more heat.

I dredged the organic thighs and drumsticks and cooked them in a bit of oil, skin side down for six minutes in an enameled cast iron skillet. Flipped them and cooked them for another ten minutes, until the thermometer showed the internal temperature reached 165 degrees.

I then stuck the dutch oven on the stovetop and cooked about eight cloves of garlic for a few minutes in peanut oil. 

I proceeded to add a healthy couple of tablespoons of aji amarillo paste, the basis for so many wonderful Peruvian dishes.

I let it cook for a few minutes and finally added a half cup of chicken broth, a can of coconut milk and a squeeze of half a lime. 

I added the chicken back into the pot and let it simmer for about twenty minutes. Added a little butter to the broth.

About this time Leslie came home and I asked her to taste the sauce. 

She thought I went overboard on the citrus but had an easy fix, adding about one and a half tablespoons of brown sugar. 

This was the perfect balance, the flavor melded together wonderfully, just what the doctor ordered.

Thank god she was there to save me from myself, knew exactly how to make it work.

It's not easy, especially for a beginning cook like me, to make disparate food elements mesh with each other but these did. I made a pot of rice, ladled the sauce over everything and added organic cilantro.

I spooned a ladle of the piquant sauce over the chicken and rice and we were in business.

One of my base recipes called for the addition of heavy cream to thicken the sauce.

I forgot.

Others add greek yogurt, feta or parmesan. We have done that before.

But she thought that this was fine the way it was and I did too.

Just have to watch the lime next time or forget it completely.

I think that the next time I make this or something like it, I will fry plantains again, I think it would be a great finishing flavor set.


Fallbrook is not exactly a culinary hotbed but there are good things around to eat.

My favorite used to be Delos's shrimp diavalo at La Caseta, Robert's pork normandy at Le Bistro, both now long gone.

I love Rosa's camarones de mojo de ajo but it is almost too much food. I am a freak for Trupianos penne rustico.

Here are three nice dishes to try around town. At least I really like them.

Crispy rice salad at Thai Thai.

Great hot summer dish, cashews, lots of lime, very refreshing. You plop some rice on the cabbage wedge which you separate and use like a giant spoon.

Chicken tortilla soup at Main Street Cafe. I asked them the other day what was good and Mexican. Off menu I think. Incredible.

Sashimi salad at Yumi. Beautiful, tasty and affordable. 

The new owners are trying hard. They are Chinese. 

Try their shrimp fried rice too. Really delicious.

They gave me a free shrimp tempura today, just to be nice.


Bon appetito!


Ken sent me a picture from an epic trip he is on that took him to Yellowstone, Colorado and Utah and many points in between. He took this great video off the Shafer Trail at Canyonlands, at an unnamed gooseneck we shot together a few years ago.

When we were on this rugged jeep trail together, we saw bighorn. He wasn't as lucky this time. ( I guess the file is too big for blogger.) Here is a pic of the spot I took.


Kip was in New Mexico and sends back some photos he took near Jemez Springs, one of my favorite spots in the Land of Enchantment.


Tim Ratican summited Mt. Whitney the other day. I think the climb is getting harder and harder for him as he gets older. Welcome to our world, Tim!


Terry DeWald sent some pictures he took with his wife at South Island of New Zealand a few years ago. Very interesting geology.

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Rolling Stones

Was it Steve Wagman or Paul Randle who asked me at coffee this morning who was playing slide on the Stones version of Little Red Rooster? Hate to say it but I was right. Brian Jones. Roll the tape.

Prelude to the afternoon of a fawn

This piece, written by Claude Debussy, was first performed in Paris on 22 December 1894, conducted by Gustave Doret.

Look ma, no horns...


This is an illustration by the Berlin artist Joseph Sattler (1867-1931). It was created in 1895 for the avante garde magazine Pan. Soon after it was reprinted in the French “Les Maîtres de l'Affiche” five volume collection of art nouveau and jugendstil poster illustration published from 1896 to 1900.

This small poster has always been one of my personal favorites and has hung in Leslie and my bathroom for over thirty years. I love the strong orange cast shadow on Pan's head and shoulder as a counterpoint to the dull olive green.

In Greek mythology Pan was the son of Hermes and Penelope.

It is a symbolist work. My interpretation of it is that the wildman Pan figure is looking at an opium poppy flower, which has been cultivated, with some measure of bemusement. Man confronting his animal nature and passions. Opiates were in vogue in the latter half of the nineteenth century but their effects were double edged and bittersweet, to say the least. 

While people of the time like Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens and Florence Nightingale who took opium appreciated the dreamy vision granted by the narcotic, people's addictions were indeed swift and severe. 

Look at the ghastly ogre like faces in the flower petals. Definitely a foreboding warning of its perils.


I was thinking of this slightly horned figure the other day. The Feuilleton website shared an image of it.

And yesterday a friend came by and I thought about it again. 

My friend D----------- is visiting from Florida. Yesterday he told me that he recently met a man from Texas and the man was staring curiously at his head. D------- asked him what was up and he said, quite honestly, that he had heard D------was jewish and was actually looking for his horns. He had been told that the kipahs or yarmulkes were worn to hide them. D------ ran his fingers through his hair to show him that he was not in fact hiding anything.

Amazing world we live in, unfortunately stupid and ignorant is winning big.

Osprey pre dawn


One Room Country Shack

This is a song written by the piano player Mercy Dee Walton. I was first acquainted with Mose Allison's excellent version. It has been covered by a lot of people, including John Lee Hooker, Al Kooper and Johnny "Guitar" Watson.

I am not a huge Buddy Guy fan but really like what he does with it here too. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2023


How is Trump publicly stating that he hopes Mark Meadows stays loyal on Meet the Press not witness tampering? * New bullshit from Donald about whales being killed by windmills. * Amazing that such a large part of the GOP platform is protecting the right of politicians to lie, dissemble and misinform. * GOP targets researchers who study disinformation. * Free speech chutzpah.*  GOP spreads falsehoods*

Repub attacks on fact checkers now on steroids. * Covid misinformation returns. RFK jr. not sure about 9-11. JFK Q Anon cult.

So now we have an ex President who wants to hang his ex general for treason for telling the Chinese that things were calm after January 6. Oh and put the head of Comcast and NBC in jail too. I ask my bros on the right if there is no new low that would be too low for them regarding 45 and I hear crickets. Or how fun it is to troll you libs. He can't wait to seize power and start the paybacks against his political opponents. And most conservatives won't say utter a peep. That's just Donald, as if laws, decency and morality no longer matter or apply when it comes to one man because he is so damn cute.* Interesting commentary at the right wing Dispatch, are we numb to Trump?  

Trump, Greene and Carlson's pal Vladimir Putin is promoting a New World order with Iran, China and North Korea. His talking head Lavrov went off last week. It feels like a comic book, the Axis of Evil, Smersh, Skrull, Hydra, Chaos. 

Such wonderful countries, from the murder of gays and women in Iran for not following morality statutes to the imprisonment of a million Uighurs in China. 

A talking head general the other day said that we are not in a proxy war with Russia, we are actually in a proxy war with China, which is funding them. Does not sound far off. * Tough for Dems to have to bail out a no goodnik like Kevin McCarthy so that he doesn't get eaten by his own. But they are the only adults in the room. * Speaking of chutzpah, how about Tubervillle going around his own military blockade last week to get one guy in. * Modi sends a hitman to Canada to take care of a Sikh separatist. Turkey goes after Kurdish separatists in Sweden. Putin wants to vanquish "terrorists" in the Ukraine. Every separatist or person fighting for a homeland is a terrorist to the status quo. It has been that way for time immemorial, from the Irgun to Samuel Adams to the Mau Mau and the Dalai Llama, Bolivar and Ho Chi Minh. Take such attestations with a grain of salt.

Mono Lake with three comets


Sometimes it is what we don't see. I captured this photograph the other morning at Mono Lake. Nothing extraordinary, really, but a lovely place. But when I put a sharpening mask on during processing I saw that three comet trails were actually coursing across the sky.

I could not see them with my naked eye. Now if I had four arms or eight arms like an octopus I could take a picture of the black screen that shows them clearly but I am bibrachial, (the scientific term for having two arms, I looked it up.) By the way, Tetrabrachius is a medical term for a person born with four arms (apparently it can happen from incomplete twinning) or for a four-armed monster.

Never know what you are missing out there...

Monday, September 25, 2023

Rob's rock and roll crossword

I created a pretty hard crossword puzzle. If you think you know sixties music, give it a shot. You might want to print it out, it will be easier to fill. I don't think even Wagman can solve this one. You really have to know your stuff.

Rob's rock and roll crossword

Goodby, Illya Kuriyakin...


Don't try to lay no boogie woogie on The King of Rock and Roll

Northern Venture

I have just returned from an excursion that was fruitless financially but certainly had its aesthetic and spiritual rewards. Unfortunately, they don't pay the mortgage. Ultimately I drove about twelve hundred miles back and forth to Reno, Nevada. I think a short backstory is in order.

A very nice client sold me a couple pieces of navajo jewelry a year and a half ago. She told me at that time that she believed that her cousin owned a valuable piece of Mexican artwork by the most prominent Mexican muralist of his day. 

She asked me at that time if I would be willing to travel to Carson City, Nevada to look at the artwork. I said "Sure, why not?" About a month ago she asked me if I was still game. I try to keep my word and said that I would, it would give me a chance to visit the Eastern Sierras and Mono Lake again.

She sent me a picture of the artwork, very similar to a series of pieces the artist produced between 1935 and 1941. It looked promising but it was a very bad photograph.

I took off Tuesday, checked into the Motel 6 in Mammoth and then drove to Mono Lake to try to catch a sunset that never really fired.  

Stopped at the Copper Top barbecue in Big Pine on the way. 

Quality has gone down, prices way up. Probably won't do that again.

Sky was cloudy, a few patches of snow still remained on the peaks from last winter.

I enjoyed watching a pair of ospreys flying to their nest that sat on a far off tufa.

I went home and went to bed, forgoing dinner as Leslie had packed me a really nice bag of food for the trip and preferred to just snack on an apple. I was pretty exhausted.

It doesn't really bother me to miss a shot some place if I have snapped great pictures there in the past. I have some lovely shots of Mono Lake taken when the light was right.

The good old intermittent reward. It means that failure is a constant part of the game. Somebody on Next Door asked me how I got so many great shots the other day. My pat answer, long periods of waiting and getting absolutely nothing. It is the truth. You take what the universe doles out and sometimes the pickings are quite slim.

Got up at 4:45 in the morning and made my way back to the lake for the 6:45 sunrise. Thought it would be packed with photographers, I was actually alone for two hours. The obsessive one. 

Still not great light but did what I could.

I was happy to be there. I didn't have to take a shot. The air, the beauty, the calm, it was just what I needed. In fact the two greatest shots of my trip I was happy to just see and take in, never even bothered to grab the camera. One was a big buck standing there looking magnificent.

No tricks, no color or saturation added, just nature. Which is enough.

Sun finally did choose to come up. It does so every day with regularity but sometimes I'm not so sure...

Not the epic day I had hoped for photographically but I will still take it.

One of the curiosities for me was seeing these birds. 
They were orange red in color. Four or five experienced birders came by and no one had seen them before. 

A woman from Wyoming got her book out and the closest thing she could come up with were yellow headed blackbirds.

I texted Beth and Ken W. and they said the same. Well, Beth asked P.J. who is an authority too.
The weird thing is that I have photographed a lot of yellow headed blackbirds and they were 70% smaller and yellow. These guys were scarlet orange.

There is a scarlet headed blackbird in South America that look a lot like these guys. But my pro friends were emphatic that they would not migrate. I guess I'm not so sure. Could they be a hybrid species? 

I am not in these birder's league by any means but these birds intrigue me. But what do I know?

I left Mono and headed up to Bridgeport and Walker on my way to Nevada. 

395 was in tandem with the Walker River and I had never gone north of Walker before. 

Curiously the 395 was now called South and we were headed due north and the inverse was true on my return. 


It was pretty enough and I liked being on a road I had never traveled before. Drove by the pretty Topaz Lake.

Ken had told me that he was worried for me taking this trip, somewhat tongue in cheek, he said that they didn't cotton to well to my liberal politics up there. 

I asked him they they would be able to tell, not like they have jewdar, right and there was no coexist sticker on my car?

But I did see a lot of MAGA signs including one big one that said Audit all 50 states, Trump won, Trump 2024. I tried to heed the warning and kept my political conversations to a minimum.

I drove through Gardnerville, stopping at a really good antique mall to kill some time. Really nice rugs, with Mark Sublette labels, quite expensive. Quite curious. Excellent indian baskets too. Didn't buy anything but was amazed at the quality compared to what I normally see in California.

I was still early for my appointment and went to the Nevada State Museum to kill some time. 

The Washo basket collection was by appointment only but I watched some great Paiute and Washo videos of folk tales in the native exhibit. 

I saw some great silver and a skull of the extinct North American cheetah.

They thrived on pronghorn until they were lost to the continent and sands of time.

I met the two sisters and their cousin at their home. 

They could not have been nicer.

But it took me less than three seconds to see that the Diego Rivera original was actually an offset litho print.

Family lore being what it was, they had assumed that a late aunt had the real thing. 

A simple look with a magnifier would have shown them the underlying lithographic dot matrix.

But they didn't know and I can't blame them. 

It got me out of the house and on to a new road and if I had more forethought I would have asked for better images.

Win some and lose some. Intermittent rewards. You can't win them all or it wouldn't be any fun.

I had this epiphany recently; as you trudge through the banality of existence, check yourself, some day you may look back at these mundane times as your glory days, the best days of our lives, things as we know, can always get much worse. You just don't appreciate how good you have it until the worm turns a time or two.

The ladies graciously offered to put me up for free at the Marriott, I declined and took a spare bedroom. Fun, good people, had to steer clear of one conversation about the evil Dr. Fauci and we were good to go.

Afterwards I drove up to Reno to see a client that i had never met in the flesh and look at his collection.

I returned to the three ladies in Carson City. We went out to dinner in Dayton, they asked me if I wanted to see one or three of the local bordellos, the Bunny Ranch, I declined. I was hoping to see wild mustangs that evening, which are rampant in the area but had no luck.

I had chili verde, which was great but when I asked for flour tortillas in Spanish and got a strange look. Don't think anybody spoke Spanish in this Mexican restaurant, come to think of it.

I left the next morning at 6:30. passed through the neon lit Capitol and the myriad of casinos.

I then saw the prettiest thing I saw on the trip, the morning mist rising off the river to the east. 

Was it the Carson or the Truckee? 

I don't know. I passed a big sign that said Carson Valley - Rugged, Relaxed and Reachable

I can't argue with rugged and relaxed but is reachable really a suitable advertisement? I thought, why aim high, settle for Carson Valley, it is within your reach, you know. Know your place. And then there's the rugged thing...

I wasn't sure what to do with the rest of my trip.  All thoughts of business and commerce were now officially out the window. I had met a Mescalero Apache and his girlfriend at Mono on Thursday who told me I should photograph a Saturday Pow Wow in Bishop. Or I could go through the Tioga Pass and visit Yosemite.

I decided on the latter option. 

Caught some  lovely geothermal vents or hot springs on the side of the road north of Bridgeport about five miles.

Then another three stops at different places at Mono Lake I had never visited before.

Too late for decent photos but saw some nice birds and flowers and enjoyed the morning thoroughly.  

Yellow rump warblers and morning glory butterflies. 

Saw a deer and her fawn at Mono Lake Park. 

So nice to be out in clean air and nature!

Coincidentally, Mick and RoxAnn's son Tim summited Mt. Whitney yesterday.

Sad to see how much water Los Angeles sucked out of the lake before they put an end to it.

I drove through Lee Vining and then headed over the beautiful pass.

Such a lovely and restorative drive. 

Quite good for the soul.

Lovely clear mountain lakes and hardly any people. Perfect.

I drove through Tuolemne and past Olmstead and saw young heroes with shoulders burdened with carabiners and chocks getting ready to attack the stone walls.

Unfortunately, there were no clouds and a bit of the Bay Area smoke had filtered down to the area, making it less than optimal for photography.

I got to the Yosemite Valley and it was a freaking zoo. Second time in a row I hardly got out of my car. I am so glad that I have been there when there were no people, you have to give it at least another month.

I am not sure why I headed up to Glacier Point but I did. Well, I know why, but it is a little personal. That is where I got the news my father had passed in nearby Clovis, in 2015. I have always associated Half Dome with my father, who was a dependable rock of stability in my life. And I would go up there after visiting him at the Alzheimers home.

But now it is ridiculous. 

Hour long waits of cars snaking down the mountain trying to get a parking space. Horrific.

But I did it.

And the view still knocks me out!

Hey Pop.

I left Yosemite, vowing to return when I could once again have it more to myself. 

I drove to Fresno and spent the night at my stepmothers and got to visit with my stepbrother and sister.

We went out for an Armenian meal and one of my favorite people in the world happened to be at the restaurant with his wife and friends, Bert Levy. 

What are the odds? 

The only other people in the joint.

I had breakfast with Bert the next day and then hit the road.

A semi went off the road at Pyramid Lake and it took about an hour and a half to get to the Templin Highway.

A guy drove by me on the 71 on a motorcycle at 100mph plus an hour. His sweatshirt read Assholes live forever. I thought, "You'll find out soon enough, bro."

I made it home, no worse for wear. 

Didn't cost all that much to make the trip and got some hikes in and a few snapshots, saw family and friends, I will write the weekend off as a cheap vacation.