Leon Gaspard was a Taos painter of the early 20th  century, with an eccentric style that makes him marginally less popular than some of his straightforwardly impressionist colleagues.

He was a Russian who traveled in the the Soviet Union in the 20’s. Like his predecessor , the poet and novelist Lermontov (grandfather Scot “Learmont”), his was a transformed western name– his grandfather was a Huguenot refugee fleeing persecution in France.*

For now, a simple image, very real despite romanticism… photo’d from Frank Water’s book. I would be interested in seeing any better version, or any of the other falconry images that exist…

* Or the great 20th century ornithologist Vladimir Flint, whose “Flint’s Rules” for toasting with Vodka have brought  many to their knees…

Hot Links

The BBC had an interesting write-up on “aircraft boneyards” around the world with lots of emphasis on the USAF facility at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson. It’s quite impressive just driving around outside of it. They offer tours and taking one is on my list.

Back in my aerospace days I worked at the Mojave Airport where a lot of planes are stored, mentioned in the article and pictured above. We were operating a Boeing 747, and occasionally we would buy used parts off of some of the 747s parked in the boneyard. We got a discount if we sent our mechanics to take it off the plane. One day our guys had to open up an internal bulkhead to reach an assembly when several plastic bags of a suspicious-looking white powder fell out. The Kern County Sheriff was immediately called. IIRC it was Bolivian marching powder.

A DNA study of Easter Island natives indicates that their genomes contain Native American DNA. Its presence seems to indicate that Native Americans somehow traveled to Easter Island in Precolumbian times and interbred with the Polynesians there. We have known for some time that there was contact between Polynesia and South America because sweet potatoes (native to South America) were cultivated throughout Polynesia when Europeans first arrived there and chicken skeletons (whose DNA matches Polynesian chickens) have been found in prehistoric sites in South America. This information adds to that story.

Rock art researcher Larry Loendorf has been working in a series of prehistoric Jornada Mogollon sites in southern New Mexico. He has noticed a repeated motif of yellow, red and black triangles (see above) on 24 pictograph rock art panels spread out over an area from Carlsbad to Las Cruces. Larry also noticed that growing under each of these panels were hallucinogenic plants: wild tobacco and datura. He believes that Mogollon shamans were using the plants to enter trances when preparing to paint the rock art.

Archaeologists in Norway have found a 1300 year-old  ski melting out of a glacier. It still has its leather bindings attached.

This is an interesting article, but I couldn’t resist putting it in for the title alone: Allosaurus Died from Stegosaur Spike to the Crotch.

Photoblogging: Kurdish Turkey II: Village Life

Hounds, houses, house partridge, sheep, field pigeons…

 Partridge, called “Keklik” are kept as pets and for calling their wild relatives, which they catch with fine nooses… demonstrated below

 These “swift” pigeons are bred for show in the west but fly free here. The one on the ground had just evaded a wild Peregrine and was feeding on the ground again.

 The Lebanons below are big enough to eat though also handsome. They are probably ancestor to the Carneau, a squabbing and show breed, in the west.

Not New England

A lot of people think of New Mexico, especially southern New Mexico, as all arid. But our landscape is vertical; ecologically and biologically, we can go from the Mexican border to Canada, from Hepatic tanagers through Red faced warblers to Steller’s jays and Hermit thrushes to Clark’s nutcrackers, in a four- mile stretch.

I need a little help these  days to get into the high country. But yesterday Magdalena’s resident poet and fellow outdoorsman Bruce Holsapple and I went to the San Mateos and drove the ridge from Grassy Lookout in the south, where Betsy and I once worked as fire lookouts, to Whittington Lookout in the north, a journey of about eight miles over 9000 feet and often  over ten. Not only did it look like northern New England; it smelled like it. Heavy cloud cover kept birds and game animals invisible and vistas short, but the Aspens were glorious. And it is always good to talk with someone who enjoys both mountain lions and William Carlos Williams. The only thing missing was Ruffed grouse…


“Washington and Moscow”

In 1983,  artist and evolutionary biologist John Mcloughlin was so sure of feathered Dinos that, in his novel The Helix and the Sword,  he gave the role of  the pets and executioners of his  post -Apocalyptic  Asteroid Belt civilization’s cruel “Regent” to a pair of eagle- like, genetically re- created Deinonychids, with feathers like Golden eagles, and named them after the legendary destroyers of planetary civilization: Washington and Moscow.

It has taken more than thirty years for an artist to produce a version of this wonderful… I almost put “beast”, but that is a mammal word– creature; bird; whatever,  worthy of his vivid  and prescient re- creation. Here it is, with a quote from the hermit of Talpa.

“Man- high, smooth- coated in short blackly irridescent feathers, red of eye and each wearing a diamond- studded Regency orange collar, Washington and Moscow were delivered to Lothar IV by the Sisterhood. Thenceforth, they accompanied  Lothar IV everywhere he went, standing outside his chambers when he slept, beside him when he ate. They were his trademarks, and his joys, and the agents of his Regental wrath as well…”