Party!

After a slightly exhausting week, the much – postponed party finally straggled in to Reid and Connie’s country manse in Parker CO  on Saturday. Not every one could make it (Smokey Paul and Lynne met us at a Santa Fe highway exit to hand over a pistol for Carlos —  we still live in a free country where a poet can hand a handgun to a writer to pass to an ornithologist, and pass it through three states, all legally!)

I am not sure what the “Theme” of the party might have been– probably NOT blogging, though it had brought some of us together. But only Reid, Arthur, and me met primarily that way. Andy Wilson has known Libby from Outward Bound days, 40 years and more. Many of the others were members of what Carlos  and the (absent ) Gerry Cox facetiously call the  “Sewing Circle”, a bunch of writers, academics and artists fascinated with fine guns. Guy Boyd, who is holding the iconic Purdey, came down from Fort Collins; our first contact was through birds I think, as he flies a pursuit Gyr named Darwin, but I have also worked editing his yet unsold thriller ms. Chas Clifton blogs at Nature Blog, but we have known each other forever; he went to Reed College with Tom McIntyre, is a retired professor of English literature and comparative religion,  knew “Seasonal” writer Ed Engle (who once remarked after a hike in the San Mateos that we had seen a redtail catch a squirrel, but “if it had been twenty yeas ago, we might have seen Mescalito!”, and, if memory serves me right, first read me in the rather odd venue of Chronicles, in a nature- themed issue put together by Chilton Williamson and his legendary damned Patagonian conures!

Themes were guns, books, ideas, and food, plus a standing desk of splendid oak for me (thanks to Laramie based novelist Brad Watson); horses (Akhal Tekes) and dogs (Aussies- ours had stayed home) and a little mostly Chihuahua named Rainbow. And GRILLED MEAT– thanks especially to Carlos, and to Arthur for bringing lovely chile- flavored booze for a marinade.

And of course the Purdey, which is exquisite, not just the finest for its price but one of the finest hammer Purdeys I have ever handled. But, contrary to what everyone seems to think, despite my trade goods and its relatively good price, I do NOT have the full price yet. Perhaps, as the Nature Conservancy’s Matt Miller suggests, I should swallow my pride, and try a little crowdfunding– it looks like now or never… ideas, please!

This set all by Andy W:

Chas sights Broomie with Steve & Carlos in enthusiastic discussion behind

The younger set–Arthur and gunsmith Adam (not in this set, brother Oliver)

Novelist Brad Watson (check his new book on Amazon), Carlos, Steve

Reid with MEAT

We do love our food– and guns …

I’ll be back!

The Blog Party will be at Reid’s in Parker, CO, east of Denver, the weekend of June 11. Regular blogging will then resume. I couldn’t have quit if I wanted to with all the response!

Health continues iffy: PD under control at the moment, but apparently a bad case of spinal stenosis is next on my plate. Meanwhile, in one of those ironies that life hands us, I have found an excellent affordable Purdey.

One thing I must note in this quick reference: the death of Herb Wells, greatest coursing photographer who ever lived, in his eighties, in Alpaugh CA. If Dan  Belkin was responsible for founding that odd colony, Herb kept it alive, and was its soul. Here are just a few images to remember…

The last 3 are a sequence; the hare flips, and runs away

Saluki Lahav’s greatest catch, in front of three GOOD greyhounds

“The most sensitive hare portraits I know are done by an old saluki man in southern California– just shots of peaceful jacks.” Me, in an old blog post here…

Herb

Sixty- Three

… posts til  #4000.  On June 5, 2005, I wrote the first, rather casually, never dreaming that a blog would become part of my writing life…

Several books, a step- grandson, Parkinson’s, many friends gone…

Selling some guns I should not have (well I do that every WEEK)…

I need without question to write a couple more books while I am still here. Not sure if the blog gets in the way… my memory and cognition may not be what they were– or maybe it is just lack of concentration…

I will be thinking about all of this in the next month or two, zeroing in on New Year’s. Most likely the solution will be a compromise, but I do need to cut back. I am getting slow.

Thoughts?

He’s Baaack!

I was goingt to wait until after New Year’s Day, but I more or less have things in order, as much as is possible with the built- in chaos generators in my life. I have decided that the blog, while it doesn’t exactly bring in cash (and there must be some way to do a little of that, to be discussed later), it is an integral part of my life and work as a writer today. Sometimes I think that because it pulls me in, I resist, doubting anything easy is worth my time. I’m too old for that, or maybe a la Dylan I’m younger than that now…

Also, I got so much mail about missing me. I am selfish enough, or maybe proud enough of my writing, to  hope that translates into sales too, as my new editions– again, more on this comingcome out. And I now have TWO books in the works.

Finally, a lot has been happening, and not just macro TV level news. The Paradigm Shift in Dinos may be shaking the ground under our feet (not quite a “Block that metaphor” for the New Yorker). Enormous amounts of shared computer time between many universities and research groups has revealed bird relationships and likely cladistics  more detailed than those for any other group. Town stuff– the semi- new cafe, the Matanza planned for January. Friends winning prizes and getting big advances, interesting gun work, new battles, wins, losses, weird cultural artifacts (Clausewitz for Babies??), and good ones, great books by friends and strangers, old music rediscovered and new emerging, necessary quotes and weird science, more and worse…

It’s all coming through the next 48 hours…so, Merry Christmas!

Hiatus

As I am becoming extremely slow, I need to organize my time. I have found that spending hours on the Internet, or sitting in this chair, is both uncomfortable and destructive of time. The only way I am going to get my next book started is to take some time off– December? Won’t know til I do.

 I have left a few things for everyone to think about, and I hope that Reid and Cat can take up some of the slack, even Matt if he is not too busy. I may blog sooner than I think. I may never come back, though that’s unlikely. Probably, some time between Christmas and New Years,  I’ll resume this ridiculous 21st century habit. Meanwhile, I wish you all well, as I hope you do me.

Links, Big Birds, and all the news that fits…

When you have been dealing with meds and other unavoidable and  annoying facts of aging, everything piles up. You don’t think Lucas Machias or Lane B stops mailing or that Annie D doesn’t send me a mix of the surreal and the biological, or JP stops writing his serious essays, do you? The world goes “whirling still”*, and all the news is not Ebola or Isis (though they are as close to where I spent time in Kurdish Turkey as I am to Socorro– thirty miles!)

News per se is boring. Once the too- difficult new meds were done away with, and my schedule tweaked, I still have mornings and late afternoons when I can do physical stuff, and if I get to the bar in the evening I can sit there until they throw me out. The next of my reprints, On the Edge of the Wild, with a new intro by Paula Young Lee and a cover by Vadim Gorbatov, is out soon– see more a few posts past. After that is Eagle Dreams with a splendid black and white profile of the late Aralbai by Cat. And more to come.

Fall continues absent. My essentially northern soul (my Italian ancestors were in the Alps warring with Otzi after the Ice Age; most of the rest were mad melancholic Celts, mercenaries  fighting others of the same lineage in Scotland and later Ireland) is irritated by this golden weather everyone else loves. We should have had a hard frost  four weeks past; instead we have hot days and FLIES. Enough! Quail will start soon but I can never quite get in the mood for bird hunting unless there is a touch of frost, and your breath is visible when you open the back door just as the sun makes a bright edge over the mountains to the southeast…

I was having trouble with Rio; no, I was having trouble with my legs. Tavo Cruz came to my rescue without my having to ask, and will get him going, with me pitching in as I am able. Tavo is a biologist, a dog – in- law, and has a Gyr Merlin, so we can all relax. It is a much better solution than either giving him up or leaving him bored; so far Rio is free of vices, but boredom makes Gyrs as crazy as it does humans…

Work- we don’t talk details, but I have had a sudden inspiration on how to proceed in my latest project– perhaps why my subconscious now suggests I get back to work here too.
So: LINKS.

Turkish and Tunisian falconry are virtually identical, and I am told by Vadim that Georgia’s is too. All use Eurasian Sparrow hawks caught on first passage using a mole cricket and a shrike; all employ a method that looks insane to us, throwing hawks like baseballs; though they know the hood, the birds are so well- manned that it hardly seems necessary to use the hood except in emergencies. The birds are flown as the migrant Coturnix quail move through, and can take astonishing bags. Once the quail have passed through, the hawkers release their birds.

There was a four -part YouTube on Turkish traditional hawking available for a while that had the look of being made for the state’s educational TV company. These next two works are not as exhaustive, but are still fun. The first is this Vimeo of the Festival de L’epervier in Tunisia. No real hunting is done, but you can see real bird handling (the competition consists of tossing a quail off the side of a steep hill, then bowling a Spar after it). Some of the  Spars appear to be trailing 3 or four feet of string,  which doesn’t slow them down much. The remarkable thing about this film is that falconry is obviously just a part of life, not some  strange exotic revival. Teenaged kids, young toughs and older working men hold forth on the virtues of their birds (one does see that the universal redneck signifier is redneck camo EVERYTHING– have seen it as far from Magdalena, or Tunisia, as Bayan Olgii, and in Nick Fox’s films of Southwest China). It makes a strange contrast to the old men in linen suits and finely woven broad brimmed straw hats…

Oh and– don’t take the written notes too seriously– most of the birds are NOT “Barbary Peregrines” whatever that means– most, and all but one flown (that by a dolt who treats a still- living quail as an inert object), are Accipiters, Spars, Accipiter nisus, and the exceptions look like Mediterranean Peregrines rather than the similar but distinct Barbary. One little guy is so calm and well- manned that he sits unhooded on the floorboard of a motor scooter, unhooded and unruffled, as his owner starts up and rides away.

The other link is to the White Review and is titled “The Forgotten Sea: the Falconers of the Eastern Pontos”. Its tone is between that of a travel piece and a scholarly article; though the writer was not a falconer he kept his eyes open; this may be the most comprehensive of the accounts of this falconry I have read by anyone. The author seems to think Turkish falconry is dying, albeit  slowly. He certainly documents signs of its decadence: birds being kept after the season as pets because of their color; obsession with color rather than hunting ability; not flying special birds for fear of losing them… I approve of getting birds pet- TAME, but Spars that are not flown are not really hawks. Rio would make a better “pet” than any Accipiter nisus, but he is now learning to be a bird, as Libby puts it, with the attendant dangers and possibilities.

Jackson and Niki ALMOST made it up to the Black Sea coast last trip; let us hope that they can see it before this sort of magical survival disappears. As a Turkish speaker familiar with falconry since his childhood, he may bring back nuances yet unknown here.

Very different bird. You may have seen this little video of a Redtail taking down a drone, filmed BY the drone on the banks of the Charles (River, between Boston and Cambridge Massachusetts), but it is irresistible. I flew my old Redtail Cinammon less than a mile from there forty years ago, but never caught anything that exciting.

Cambridge hawker, ’72?

My other links are not for the most part about birds, and I will put them in the next or another post. But first; remember how Robert Bakker, back in the nineteen eighties, called T rex “The Roadrunner from Hell”? And how Peter Larson, whose conviction and (I would say) unjust jailing for fossil offenses I don’t quite understand even after reading about them, called it “The biggest bird of all”? I think that an actual paradigm shift is upon us, even as the nerds debate the producers over whether the “Velociraptors” in the next Jurassic Park episode should finally be allowed their feathers or stand shivering like plucked chickens. Bigger and bigger Tyrannosaurs are being discovered with feathers, especially Eutyrannus, and some dino kids are saying “why is the Tyrant King naked?”

Eutyrannus AND “Velociraptors”** in the snow

 Sensible, mostly young scientists, pointing to the acceptance of likely feathers on young rexes, ask when any adult in any birdlike line had no feathers when the young did. And now our most innovative paleoartist, John Conway, gives us a calm, feathered, close- mouthed Tyrannosaurus that is about the scariest thing I ever saw. He doesn’t want to roar  at you***– he just wants a snack!

* Who am I quoting? (A poet from his first book- whole stanza will appear).

** They are not Velociraptors, which were only coyote size– more like, oh, Utahraptors–  but the name is better. You know those aspirin ads where some weary oldster has to tell a young person that Aspirin is not just for heart attacks? Kids either think I am being inventive, metaphorically, or that I am wrong (and correct me) when I refer to birds of prey as “raptors”.

*** John McLoughlin used to roar himself: “WHY do they always show predators with their MOUTHS open, ROARING? They would all STARVE!”

People are mailing…

Asking what I am doing. WORKING– or at least gunning the engine to get out of the rut.

I said I wouldn’t blog, but I keep putting in material? That one is easy. I am not writing new material, but it doesn’t take much energy to post good photos or quotes. So early in the mornings and at  “Happy Hour” I will continue to post random quick findings, and I hope entertain you until I can justify more serious writing here. So please check in…

In and Out

I am sorry for spotty posting– heat, drought, stress, work, waiting (on money, on decisions), business, relatives (good- more on that coming), a dead car, the damned Post Office, Libby’s knee, sleeplessness engendered by all above, “Parkiness” generated by sleeplessness,  visitors; even pigeons (removing 40- some ferals who have invaded during our dry spring); all have been contributing to my absence.

But the rains have come and seem to be staying, “frogs” (spadefoots) are calling, our water situation has improved (only adequate account is in the Socorro Defensor Chieftain today, not on line at least yet); nights are cool enough to sleep, and the kids are moved. Blogging, if light, can resume. I may be intermittent til I have a long- range work plan, which depends on editors at least in part; I could also use an ergonomic chair and some new skill for IPad and DragonSpeak, but working on it all. Onward to all the usual suspects– dogs, quotes, guns, books, friends; more, and worse….

New Project

I am about to start guest blogging on Parkinson’s, I hope more amusingly than not, at the UNM Health Science Center’s new blog .  (My neurologist, who appears above, works there and has encouraged me to write for them). The link goes to Lauren Lewis’s excellent intro; the film above is not a bad intro to Casa Q either. My own post there may be up by the time you read this.