Cincinnati

We’ve just returned from a week in Cincinnati where we spent Thanksgiving with two of Connie’s siblings and their families. Our kids flew out from California for the holiday, too. We had a good visit and got to do some interesting things that I’ll post about. I took this picture of the Cincinnati skyline and the Ohio from my sister-in-law’s new house.

Being a California girl, this was granddaughter Bella’s first opportunity to experience the quaint Eastern custom of raking leaves in her aunt’s yard.

She also got to enjoy the fringe benefit of jumping in the leaf piles.

Roy’s Rules

Roy Chapman Andrews’ Rules for his 1920 Mongolian expedition, according to Alan Nichols of the Explorer’s Club:

– No cussing the weather.

– No grouching against the gasoline in the water.

– No profanity (except the picturesque variety).

– All male members must take share in pumping tires and other work not requiring hot air.

– If male members cannot supply fresh meat on any one day, they will not be allowed to smoke after dinner.

The Expedition and each member is required to:

– Have a thoroughly good time.

– Camp early and start late on general principle.

– Stop and investigate or leave the road and explore whenever desired.

Quote: Bring Up the Bodies

Hilary Mantel’s trilogy on Henry VIII and his court, as seen through the eyes of courtier Thomas Cromwell, is one of the most harrowing fictional works I have ever read– brilliant and acute, never pleasant. Am I the only reader who sees a similarity between Henry’s court and that of the Red Czar? As with Stalin, the only thing worse than not being noticed by Henry was BEING noticed by him.

But the opening of the second book also has this harrowingly beautiful passage on falconry, as Cromwell flies his Peregrines, named after the dead women in his family. There is nothing like it; Mantel has seen the birds fly.

“His children are falling from the sky. He watches from horseback, acres of England stretching behind him; they drop, gilt-winged, each with a blood-filled gaze. Grace Cromwell hovers in thin air. She is silent when she takes her prey, silent as she glides to his fist. But the sounds she makes then, the rustle of feathers and the creak, the sigh and riffle of pinion, the small cluck-cluck from her throat, these are sounds of recognition, intimate, daughterly, almost disapproving. Her breast is gore-streaked and flesh clings to her claws….

“Tomorrow his wife and two sisters will go out. These dead women, their bones long sunk in London clay, are now transmigrated. Weightless, they glide on the upper currents of the air. They pity no one. They answer to no one. Their lives are simple. When they look down they see nothing but their prey, and the borrowed plumes of the hunters: they see a flittering, flinching universe, a universe filled with their dinner.”

Model 21

We used to have a Thanksgiving bird hunt every year when I lived in Massachusetts. My father was the one who started this tradition, though he sadly abandoned it under the self- inflicted burden of his work and company. I think this duck hunting image was from one of these hunts. Notice the Model 21 Heavy Duck gun, which he later sold as “too heavy”. They were not yet quite prohibitively expensive, though shot by the likes of Hemingway and Jack O’Connor; they are now. The specimen below, almost identical to Dad’s, is going for $8995 at CSMC.

I can’t help but think the apple didn’t fall too far from the tree… having an artist- sportsman for a father creates some odd obsessions.

“Esta sim e espingarda!”

Or “THIS is a gun!”, as Datus Proper’s Lisbon gunsmith said to him when he first saw his Woodward.

William Richards of Liverpool 12 bore Best boxlock ejector, 28″, 6 lbs 14 oz (feels like about 6– barrels only 2 lbs 14), recent proof, Boss patent (I think) easy opener, all bells & whistles…

We will try it out at the Thanksgiving shoot at Dunhill, and then eat a suckling pig– photo of an earlier smaller one to the same old Spanish recipe– with our hosts, the Peculiars, Joel the cellist, Lib’s boss Greg, more. Photos to come, and a little more gun wonkery, followed by many book reviews and such– Rob Macfarlane, David Quammen, Tom Russell’s art book from Bangtail, (he is on tour, and also playing on the stereo this minute), Karen Myers, and more; I can already say buy them all plus multiple copies of Tom McIntyre’s Snow Leopard fable for your Christmas list! Malcolm, Darren, and Olivia all have new ones coming soon, Jonathan Kingdon publishes his masterwork on African mammals soon (I may have to sell a gun to afford it), and an astonishing bird art book with skeletons that looks heavily influenced by him just came in from Jessica at Princeton. Lauren and Rebecca arrive Saturday with tales of Asia and the road, to make the weekend complete. A heartfelt Happy Thanksgiving to all and especially the bunch who wished us one, all of whom we would love to have here to eat and drink and shoot with us: Pluvi, Dr Hypercube, Darren, the Old Gunkie, Gerry, Stuart, Malcolm, Daniel, Karen and George and the nephews, and any inadvertently forgotten.

Piglet:

Pete & Jessica’s (sheep) ranch:

A Few Images– Fun And Teasers

Busy busy busy– winterizing, trying to get in shape, jump start big projects… so some amusements.

A properly muscled saluki by Cellini, middle 1500’s, courtesy of Sir Terence Clark. Many Asia list members have noted that he is so fit that show judges today would fault him for his muscle definition…

The Capital C Creation of the mystical capital S Saluki as slyly depicted by Jess:

Two of our favorite “salukoids”, Jutta’s Nhubia and taigan Taalai in Germany, get a YouTube:

Ron Peterson, the best gun dealer in the west and maybe in the US (certainly MY favorite, for the last 30 happy years) has a brand new website, mostly for antiques. I will have much to say about Ron, but here he is with me last week holding a very interesting gun, which may also appear here soon…

Most English boxlocks are built on the Scott spindle action; the William Richards above is, as is this nearly identically finished one, an Alexander Blair:

One more: where is this woman and what is she doing?