Commonplace Book

“Everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.”

— Paul Bowles

A Historic Gun?

A Savage Model 99, for its forward- looking elegance and efficiency perhaps my all time favorite American rifle design (and Roy Chapman Andrews, the model for Indiana Jones, took one to the Gobi when he discovered the Flaming Cliffs fossil beds and the first Dino eggs!)

This one is a take- down model in the old but useful .300 Savage caliber, and apparently has an illustrious history, at least locally, which I am researching. Hint: I have ordered a copy of Slash Ranch Hounds…

As always, click to enlarge.

At the Peters

For Santa Feans and other northern New Mexicans: the always stimulating Gerald Peters gallery is featuring new sculpture by two of my friends, Steve Kestrel and Tony Angell, in a show called “Romantic Contours, Modern Terrain”. I only wish I had time to get up there! Steve sent me photos of these two pieces, carved from “found” rock that he shaped into magical artifacts (the morsels in their raptorial bills are Archaeopteryx skulls!) I’ll try to get some Tony up soon too…

Qualzucht 2

I have recently been involved in some discussions about why people breed distorted animals for “fun”(ie, shows). Please understand: I emphatically do not want governmental restrictions on breeders. But I do want (a) a bit of common sense and (b) some comprehension of why people do it. Here is what my feeble mind has come up with so far:

I think there are two possible non- exclusive analogies or possibly drives. One is our (universal animal– or at least VISUAL animal) evolutionary tendency to choose the exaggerated, exemplified by the birds who choose oversized dramatically marked eggs to their own or realistic ones; also possibly by female sexual selection of exaggerated male ornament–?

The other just came to me last night: “qualzucht” might be akin to Anorexia, where individuals who are starving themselves to death look in the mirror and think they are fat. The seed for this idea came when I read about and saw videos of breeders with frog- legged dysplastic GSD’s and hydrocephalic King Charles spaniels insisting their dogs were better and more beautiful than healthy dogs. And it occurred to me, as I watched in disbelief : they were sincere, AND THEY BELIEVED IT.

And example number two: a historical engraving of a barb pigeon, from Darwin’s Variation; one of my own virtually identical barbs; and a modern show barb. Aaack!


Update and Apologies

Sorry all– slow typing plus two books to finish plus a mag deadline plus training a hawk plus a dog with iffy health- Lashyn has developed diabetes, finally coming under control– do not make for plentiful posting. Too much chaos, for good as well as ill, but chaos nonetheless. The dogs are nervous– even Perfect Princess Ataika is staying in her well- appointed bunker, though she is keeping a look out…

Today’s posts will lean heavily on photos but I hope will entertain…

Another Letter

Stuff keeps falling out as I reread old books. Angus Cameron, author of the LL Bean Game & Fish Cookbook and Jack O’Connor’s editor at (ahem) Knopf, sent me a copy of this exchange over The New Yorker review of O’Connor’s… The Rifle Book! Click to enlarge:

Jack also got an obit in the NYT. It was a better time– and if you don’t think so look at the Atlantic fiasco below…