Sunday, May 31, 2009


I found these penstemons along Highway 58, just west of Tehachapi this afternoon. They were a little past their peak, as evidenced by the piles of dried flowers under the bushes,
but there were still a fair amount in bloom.

This is another one of those, "I'm-not-sure-about-the-species," finds that will stay that way until someone takes pity on me and lets me in on the secret or (more unlikely) I manage to look it up.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Excuse of the Week

I skipped a day there because I was busy driving this to Carmichael:

The van was 17 feet long, and handled quite nicely. All the tricky stuff is done with mirrors, except, of course, if somebody decides to tailgate, they become invisible. You have to watch for them, because they somehow get sucked into the magnificent wake of such a moving van as this one, and they like it so much that they stay there for miles. Every once in a while, they will coyly appear in the mirror on your left, and you think kindly of them for reminding you that they're there. You also wonder why they don't just pass you. You know when they do pass you? When you see a cop pulling someone over on the right shoulder so you move over into the left lane, just momentarily. Then your shy little buddy back there cries, "Ah! I see how it is! You're driving in the fast lane? In a moving van?" And overcome with righteous indignance, they pass you on your blind side, and associate with you no more.

I wish there was something absolutely astounding I could tell you about the trip, but it was quite uneventful. I saw three dead barn owls at different places along I-5. More interesting, I caught a glimpse of a very live tarantuala hawk, but we passed like ships in the night. . .no, really more like a wasp and a moving van in the late afternoon.

Against a lot of good advice from everyone from my near-and-dear to the lady at the rental place, I opted to drive the van back again, and the time limit I ended up with had me driving back the next morning, so I did about 700 miles round trip in less than 24 hours. Not a record, by any means, but quite enough driving for little ol' me, thank you very much! The drive back was terribly bland--not so much as a mud dauber! (If you don't count all those mysterious, unidentifiable splotches on the windshield).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Cloud of the Week

We had a small thunderstorm yesterday afternoon. I didn't see any lightning, but I could hear the thunder, and was later informed that the lightning started a couple of fires in the Tehachapi Mountains.
We did get a little rain out of it. I spent the afternoon packing the moving truck where, listening to the downpour amplified by the shell, I was tempted to go find something unproductive to do, a book or something to curl up with among the boxes. Any excuse to sit there and listen to the rain, and to breathe the sharp smell of it would have done nicely.
What I did get was a picture, so here it is:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Da Slockit Light

A tune that has really been growing on me since Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas' concert back in March is Tom Anderson's "Da Slockit Light." Here is a very nice arrangement for fingerstyle guitar:

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day (Late, But Well-Meant)

It is an appropriate week to post a poem by Joyce Kilmer, a poet who was himself a casualty of the First World War. He wrote it a little over a month before his death in France.

The Peacemaker

Upon his will he binds a radiant chain,
For Freedom's sake he is no longer free.
It is his task, the slave of Liberty,
With his own blood to wipe away a stain.
That pain may cease, he yields his flesh to pain.
To banish war, he must a warrior be.
He dwells in Night, eternal Dawn to see,
And gladly dies, abundant life to gain.

What matters Death, if Freedom be not dead?
No flags are fair, if Freedom's flag be furled.
Who fights for Freedom, goes with joyful tread
To meet the fires of Hell against him hurled,
And has for captain Him whose thorn-wreathed head
Smiles from the Cross upon a conquered world.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Breaking News

We felt the sonic boom when this fella came in this morning.

Oh, What to Say?

I played a couple of tunes on the pipes this evening at a barbecue, and had a conversation afterwards that got me thinking a bit. Now, if you play the violin nicely, or the piano, or the flute, or better, the harp, you have people come up and say to you, "I just love your music! Will you play at my wedding?" Well, if you play the pipes (as nicely as you can) you have people come up and say to you, "I just love that. Will you play at my funeral?" Of course, I always try to be obliging, and I do quite like the idea of being able to do my bit at a funeral, but the proper answer requires a bit of proper reflection. Because no matter how well-meaning one is, it can't possibly sound right to say, "I'd love to!"

(Luckily, I yet again escaped the foot which was heading for my mouth, and managed to say, "If you'd like. But don't be in any hurry.")

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Difference Is. . .

I'm doing a small presentation on the fiddle for a friend's third grade class next week. Being as they are third graders, and thus pretty intimidating, I figured I should do a bit of research on important matters, such as The Question: What is the difference between a fiddle and a violin? My usual smart-aleck answer (which has, I insist some truth in it) is, "Depends on who you ask."

The general consensus is, of course, that it's a fiddle when used for folk music, and a violin when classical music is its provenance. I have, however, heard a good many fiddlers (the name, when applied to people, is less vague) refer without a second thought to, "My violin," (or, "Mah vahlin," in some cases). They play it: they're entitled to call it what they like, says I. There are, of course, extremists on both sides, who hold hard and fast to one term, but in general, I think it's safe enough to say I play the fiddle (sometimes-described-as-a-violin).

Well, it occurred to me to find out where the two disparate words came from. "Fiddle," it turns out, is from the Old English fiðele, a word which may have applied to the rebec, or something like it. Furthermore, fiðele likely descended from the Middle Latin vitula*. I am not certain whether vitula referred to a particular instrument, or whether it was a generic term for stringed instruments at large. But anyway, vitula. Remember that.

"Violin," on the other hand, had its roots in the Italian word viola. Viola, it seems, was once a much more general term than it is today, applying to anything (i.e. what we know as basses, cellos, violas, and violins) with a viola-ish shape. Violino was the diminutive form, applied to the "little viola". The fun part--viola is also quite possibly a descendant of vitula.

So, what is the difference between a fiddle and a violin? Like I said, it depends on who you ask.

*To be thorough, there is also a theory that it is of purely Germanic origin.

Friday, May 22, 2009

O, The Summer Time is Come. . .

No season that bakes the hills dry deserves to travel under the pretense of being Spring any longer. Very typical Kern County this time of year, what W.B. Yeats would no doubt call "long dappled grass" (but who asked him?).Come, now! I didn't say it wasn't fair to look upon. I think, as a matter of fact, that it looks quite nice (and a good thing, that, since it's what we have at least eight months a year). Just not like Spring.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back to My Old Tricks

I went out to the edge of town to practice this afternoon. The pipes were very happy with the 75-odd degree weather, staying in tune in a most obliging fashion. Since tuning wasn't the issue today, naturally some other small catastrophe had to substitute, and it did. I had been playing through some of my latest light tunes, and, the pipes having reached the peak of their perfection, buried myself in "The Company's Lament." I was fairly drowning in contentment, what with the way the pipes were set, and the cool eddys of air that were blowing down off the mountain. In the middle of the second variation, however, I was rudely jerked out of Paradise by a wasp. No, no, not as in stung, really there was nothing painful about it, except for the conflict that arose between finishing the piobaireachd, and snapping pictures of the insect. Because the wasp was, as a matter of fact, burrowing into the ground, with the attitude and enthusiasm of a terrier after a bone, kicking up a steady (if small) fountain of dirt behind it.

Of course, I learned my lesson the hard way. I put down the pipes and dug around for the camera, and by the time everything was untangled, the wasp was taking a notion to seek the horizon, and the second variation of "The Company's Lament" was shattered beyond repair. I put the camera within easier reach and turned back to the pipes.

Though a couple of wasps flew by, I never did get a shot at another one digging. Some time later, I took a break to follow them around while they were hunting (I assume). They didn't spend much time in the air, or fly more than a few feet off the ground if they did. They were quite graceful in flight, afoot, slightly menacing as they often paused in their charge, only to move off again at the same smooth, rapid pace. The effect was something like time lapse photography; the wasp would be hurrying into a hole in one instant, and in the next she might appear suddenly atop an adjacent blade of grass before blurring away across a clearing. I was surprised to get any remotely clear pictures, but here is one:
That one was taken when she paused in my shadow, thus the impression that a flash might have gone off (it did). It would have been nice to get a picture in the sunlight at a proper angle as, there, the insect's wings reflect a rich, dark blue. I'm still not certain of the genus and species, but I'm pretty sure it's something in Chlorion; if so, it was after crickets.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mouth Music, Part 3 (Did you see that coming?)

Puirt-a-beul (see yesterday's post) is the most standard style of singing Scottish dance tunes. It does, however, have a more specialized cousin, canntaireachd, (pronounced a bit like "Cawn-trock") which is used exclusively in singing pipe tunes, for the purpose of teaching or learning them. Like Irish lilting, canntaireachd does not use meaningful words, but the syllables employed are calculated to imitate the various embellishments one encounters in piping. Several standards for singing canntaireachd have survived down into our times, but given the tendency of any accomplished piper to choose vocables that best suit his taste, one wonders just how "standard" these methods were, even in their own time. The Campbell style is the one in widest use today, always easy to reference in the publications of the Piobaireachd Society.

A very important aspect of the Campbell canntaireachd is the one-to-one correspondence between the notes played and the notes sung. For example, if the canntaireachd is sung, "a," the piper would know to play a D note. If, however, the sung syllable is "ha," the player remembers to add a G gracenote before playing the D note. (Again, note this is mostly in theory; a good many of the pipers who use canntaireachd fluently are more interested in singing the tune than reserving each phrase for only one purpose. )

Canntaireachd was invaluable in the days before pipe music began to be written down. At that time, pipers did not play ceol beag; it was all piobaireachd. Even today, canntaireachd is given a particular emphasis in the teaching of piobaireachd. The method not only aids in memorization, but gives a piper an extra degree of feeling for the music that will (hopefully) be transfered to his performance on the pipes.

Here, then, is a bit of Campbell canntaireachd, as it would be applied a piobaireachd. The singer is Barnaby Brown; the tune "My Dearest on Earth, Give Me Your Kiss."

The fact that canntaireachd was the traditional means for conveying piobaireachd, however, has not hindered it in becoming a very useful means for learning, expounding, or discussing light music. An accomplished piper tends to slip into it as though it is an extension of his own language. "Watch that hin o che, hin o che," the pipe major will caution, "You're running away with it. A little more hin."

For some reason canntaireachd recordings of light music seem to be quite rare, a circumstance which might serve, to an observer, only to downplay the taken-for-granted relationship between singing and piping. However, over at the Scottish Arts Council's website, you can listen to Rona Lightfoot singing some strathspeys and a reel (deviously, it's the link marked Canntaireachd on that page).

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mouth Music, Part 2

Yesterday's video showed off a bit of lilting. Here is a Scottish style of mouth music, puirt a beul, which uses real, though usually nonsensical, words. It isn't a very clear video, but an interesting one as it shows puirt-a-beul in practical application. The dancer is Melody Cameron, and the singer Joe Murphy. The video was actually taken in Nova Scotia, where Gaelic musical traditions are still quite strong.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mouth Music

Mouth music, or singing styles where the tune takes precedence over the words, comes in plenty of different forms. On the Irish traditional scene, you can catch a bit of lilting, which eschews with words altogether. Here, Séamus Brogan lilts "The Mason's Apron." This is a reel people tend to have way too much fun with anyway; an indefinite number of variations can be included, and Mr. Brogan is not stingy with them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Catching Up, and St. Brendan

I was in Sacramento again Friday and Saturday and didn't have a chance to write anything. Also, summer has occurred in earnest; it's a bit hard to think, let alone write when there is no place to get away from the heat. My trip was not much to speak of. I moved a carload of things (books, mostly, if you'll believe it) into my new apartment. Furthermore, I tried an orange creamsicle milkshake from the drive-through at the Santa Nella Carl's Junior, and heard Dvorak's New World Symphony in its entirety on the radio between Stockton and Sacramento. The former was nothing to complain of, but the latter was remarkable, and I forgot to wish I had brought my CD player.

The only big (to me) thing I missed was a chance to post a short something about St. Brendan the Navigator yesterday, which was his feastday. Since I had left myself a note at least two months ago to be sure and do this, I was a little put out that I didn't do it in time after all.

Anyway, St. Brendan, an Irish monk, is the patron saint of sailors. It is quite likely that he sailed through the Hebrides and founded religious houses there, but even more intriguing is the possibility that another voyage took him as far west as North America--in the 6th century. The legend associated with his voyage might read rather fantastically at a first glance, but in the 1970's the adventurer Tim Severin decided that following in St. Brendan's alleged footsteps would be worth a try. Severin commissioned a large curragh, an Irish boat of hides stretched over a wooden framework, and in it he sailed from Ireland to Newfoundland, with a small crew. He lived to write a book about it, The Brendan Voyage. This book is quite interesting as it details the construction of the Brendan, as the boat was inevitably named, not to mention the voyage itself. One conclusion which Severin reached was that many details of the medieval legend were not as unlikely as they first appeared (a "pillar of crystal," for instance, is not unlike an iceberg). As you might expect of any book that treats of a voyage through the North Atlantic, this one is an excellent antidote to hot weather.

An interesting literary footnote--the Irish tradition of an earthly paradise that could be reached, God willing, by sailing West is not unsimilar to Tolkien's land of Valinor. In fact, Tolkien himself is responsible for an obscure poem called Imram (the old Irish term for a questing voyage like St. Brendan's) which is a dialog between a young Irish monk and the now-dying Brendan. A piece of it:

'But men say, father that ere the end
you went where none have been.
I would here you tell me, father dear,
of the last land you have seen.'

'In my mind the Star I still can find,
and the parting of the seas,
and the breath as sweet and keen as death
that was borne upon the breeze.
But where they they bloom those flowers fair,
in what air or land they grow,
what words beyond the world I heard,
if you would seek to know,
in a boat then, brother, far afloat
you must labour in the sea,
and find for yourself things out of mind:
you will learn no more of me.'

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lighter Moments of Ceol Mor

The College of Piping's Piobaireachd Tutor is an amazingly concise little book. Seumas MacNeill leads the reader through four entire piobaireachds, allowing room to present everything from a darado to a crunluath a mach. To me, it is quite a valuable little volume; no doubt there are other books with more information; certainly there are more with more tunes, but I would guess it is a hard work to beat for efficiency. If you forget, as I am bound to, exactly what a darado is, you can go back and have it explained to you piece by piece.

Possibly because it is such a practical book, it becomes doubly funny in the passages where the writer obviously began to have too much fun. The edition I have was revised by Rab Wallace, so I don't know whether Mr. MacNeill or Mr. Wallace is to blame for the pithy statements that sneak up suddenly upon you, but no matter where they came from, here are a few highlights:
  • "The singing is only to help your mind's ear (a neat phrase that, and worth dragging in again)."
  • "Take your time. Remember that the race is not to the swift. Remember also that this is not even a race."
  • "Now it's time to begin your third piobaireachd [. . .], 'The Lament for Alasdair Dearg Mac Donnell of Glengarry', generally referred to as 'Alasdair Dearg'. 'Alasdair' is pronounced with the 'd' something more like a 't'. 'Dearg' is pronounced 'jerrug,' somewhat to your surprise, no doubt, if you are not a Gaelic speaker."
  • ". . .'What a great song I am making,' you say. But when you come to the Taorluath and the Crunluath variations you add, 'and what a clever chap I am, the way I do it'."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


The wildflowers seem to get most of the attention, but this is also the time of year when you realize how nice the trees look, suddenly in leaf. Here are a couple of shots of a blue oak (Quercus douglasii) around sunset yesterday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Fine Fiddling--And Then Some!

This is a nice little educational video about Canadian fiddle styles (with some great examples). The fiddler is April Verch, who recently collaborated on a Mel Bay primer about Canadian fiddling. Also, about a million years ago, she was one of the judges at the National Fiddle Contest at Weiser, Idaho, and her solo made quite an impression on my youthful mind.

Here she puts theory into practice at a show in North Carolina:

Here she defies gravity:

That might somewhat explain why I found her set at Weiser so memorable. Maybe.

Monday, May 11, 2009

More Not-So-Trad Piobaireachd

Last month when I was trying to think of a good introductory piobaireachd, how could I have forgotten the Strathclyde Police's version of "The Piper's Warning?" You can download the video from their website here. As with SFU's "Andrew MacNeill of Colonsay," it's a band arrangement, so not piobaireachd as you would usually hear it, but definitely worth a listen.

Also, while you are at it, why don't you download the other video the band has up? Another rarity not filmed often enough, it's a drum fanfare. A drummer's job has to be complicated enough without throwing in the tricks these fellows add!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Time. . .

Have you ever tried to describe time? I tried it last night and found it quite difficult. No doubt different people would attack it from different angles, but every time I came around a corner in my explanation I found out I wanted to use time to define time:

"Time is the passage of. . ." Ooops. No.

"Time means moving. . .um." No.

"Time is a movement. . .forward? Where to? How would you characterize the movement of time as opposed to movement through space? Well, for one thing, time goes on moving whether the creatures in it are moving or not. . ." And then the vague picture in my mind of an endless, merciless river roaring through the quiet room, foaming over Now and carrying the world away, with no chance of anchorage. As soon as you realize it's Now, Now has become Then, and it's behind you, and time. . .well what *is* time, anyway?

Perhaps I had better leave physics alone for a while.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

New Acquaintance

"This is what we're having for dinner tomorrow night," Grandma said, holding up the magazine she had been reading while her hair set, "It's light and easy." I copied the ingredients and main instructions into my notebook, wondering at the lightness and the ease of it. Mostly it involved scallops and olive oil and lemons and limes--a pleasant prospect indeed.

But though I wrote it down with some attention, when it came time to do the shopping, I realized I was clueless when it came to one item on the list. A lemon I can identify, and limes and I are old friends. Even scallops are fairly recognizeable, especially when they are neatly labeled behind the seafood counter. But what's a shallot? I had heard the word, indeed, I had reminded Grandma when we were making the shopping list, "It calls for shallots." She agreed that I should get some and I traipsed off to the store, still unaware that I had no idea what I was talking about.

However, the hard facts of the produce section do not allow for comfortable indistinctness. Confronted by lush rainforests of bunched parsely and ransacked pyramids of potatoes, I realized I had come with one intention uppermost in my mind, and that was to buy shallots. The question finally dawned--would I know a shallot if I saw one? I began the search in the herb section, thinking (I don't know why) that I was seeking sort of a cross between a chive and a green onion. Chives there were, in plenty, but the shallots, if they were there, were cunningly hidden. I looked wanely up and down the bins that were trying to rival a horn of plenty, bursting with. . .everything but shallots. Perhaps shallots were not called shallots in Sacramento. Perhaps they were traveling under an assumed name.

Finally I realized that there was another human being in this wilderness, a native of the place, or, at least, the produce clerk. I was going over to ask him where the shallots were kept. A fellow shopper materialized grandly and, being nearer, got in ahead of me to make inquiries about bok choy. I did not feel shortchanged; in knowing enough about bok choy to ask for it, she had betrayed herself as a woman who most likely was on a first-name basis with shallots. So I asked her while the produce clerk went off to see if there was any bok choy.

"Shallots?" she made an eloquent face. "They're over there."

I was astounded, realizing that she was pointing away from the forest of greens into the high, dry desert of potatoes and--onions.

"On the end," she said, "They're like onions, but more. . .more. . ." And that face again, as though they were a bit overdone, as things like onions went.

"Concentrated?" I wondered.

She nodded. I stared at the shallots which, from the outside, looked like undernourished yellow onions. I selected two and traipsed off to find the seafood counter.

That night I peeled one of these wonders, cut it in half, and began to dice it finely, as the recipe mandated. It inclined toward a slight purple inside.
I had discovered exactly what the elusive shallot looked like. But what did it taste like? I cut an extra slice to find out. I believe the face I made was close to the expression the lady in the grocery store had worn when revealing the long-sought vegetable. It was like an onion, but more. . .more. . .concentrated. Much more.

Friday, May 8, 2009


The blog has been on autopilot for the last few days, but here I am, alive and kicking. Things might get a bit sparse for a while as far as posts go, as it is official--I'm moving to Carmichael (a suburb of Sacramento). Folks may want to know why. Well, the best excuse I can think of at the moment is that the Carmichael Library (where I am typing this) has truly excellent book sales. Two days ago I bought a big, fat history of Sweden; today, a history of the U.S. Cavalry. The apartment which is soon to be mine has made me truly reckless; it has room for a multitude of bookshelves. Yes, I believe it would do me a little more good to sit down and get through the books I already have, but there, if you need to borrow a history of Sweden you know who to ask.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quite a Paint Job

Weeeel, I never did quite understand these things. In Vancouver, they have bears that are painted in all sorts of imaginative ways; at the Poppy Festival last month, the animal of choice was antelope (Lancaster is in the Antelope Valley). Who first decided that a plastic animal would make an ideal canvas? Perhaps some overachiever to whom Easter eggs no longer sufficed. Kidding aside, though, this one would be hard to beat for a lovely choice of decoration: The artist is named Yin Ping Zheng; he specializes in some very lovely Chinese-style watercolors (one of the booths far in the background of the picture above is his). The blossoms here are almost as good as the real thing, eh?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"They Were Brave Men, These Pipers"

Bagpipes often seem to inspire the reaction, "That stirs my blood!" Their role as an instrument of war continued well into the 21st century; the piper in The Longest Day wasn't fiction.
The pipers of World War I are deservedly legendary. It is hard to imagine just what it would be like to go over the top, up out of the trenches and into enemy fire with your hands full of nothing more than a chanter, but the stories say they did it time and time again. These days, and perhaps more particularly, this side of the Pond, they are remembered mostly in titles of a few tunes whose jauntiness is rather disarming, given the circumstances under which they must have been composed or popularized, "The Battle of the Somme" being a notable example.
Two of WWI's pipers are introduced by name in this article by Brett Tidswell (there are three pipers in the article, but the first is G.F. Findlater, of an earlier campaign in India). More on James Richardson, and a picture of the Chilliwack monument in his honor can be found here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Small Things

Does that look like a bunch of tiny rubber bands to you? Well, that's exactly what they are. Does it look like anything to get excited about? Depends on your point of view. Okay, okay. It isn't anything to get wildly excited about, granted, but it's those little things that make life pleasant. Like a little rubber band to make your chanter reed quieter if you live in a studio apartment.

These are orthodontic rubber bands, the little ones that hook an upper set of braces with a lower set of braces to coax a jaw into some unaccostomed position. They are also the reason band members with braces get an unaccustomed amount of attention.

Someone walks into rehersal with a new and uncomfortable looking hardware collection wired across his teeth. The reaction is sympathetic:

"How are you getting along with them? Don't really miss the popcorn?"

"How's piping with 'em?"

"Sixteen months, eh? Oh, it'll go by before you know it."

It is only after a properly sympathetic pause that it is appropriate to add, in the most offhand way possible, "Oh, by the way. . .emm, I don't suppose the dentist gave you any of those little rubber bands, did he? Oh no. Just one would be plenty."

I live quite near an orthodontist's office, so it was only a matter of months before it would occur to me that perhaps rubber bands could be procured right at their source. Oddly enough, they can. Indeed, the receptionist kindly gave me a whole bag of them, for free, with no orthodontic obligations attached. . .Who'd have thunk it?

Monday, May 4, 2009

For Ireland I'd Not Tell Her Name

This is one of my favorite slow airs, an Irish tune called "'Ar Éirinn Ni 'Neosfainn Ce Hi". No, I'm not sure about the spelling; there seem to be several, but the title means roughly, "For Ireland, I'd Not Tell Her Name."
Here is a lovely version by an Argentinian group.

Credits: YouTube channel: IrishFlutist85

SFUPB played the tune as part of their medley in 2007 (an inevitable meeting between perfect slow air and perfect band, says I). Here they, and their medley, are at Enumclaw. Listen for the end, where they return to the slow air, speed it up a bit, and play it against a countermelody--good stuff!

Credits: YouTube channel: Scotkin

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Welcome Inn

Certainly you are all aware that I am rather fond of bagpipes; a few of you might also gather that one of my favorite poets/essayists, yes, even novelists, is G.K. Chesterton. Well, if you wonder what you get when you combine the two, the result has been, until now, this stanza from "The Ballad of the White Horse":

As mocking such rude revelry,
The dim clan of the Gael
Came like a bad king’s burial-end,
With dismal robes that drop and rend
And demon pipes that wail—

That is to say, perhaps it wasn't the most genial of combinations. Not in Chesterton's poetry, anyway. (P'raps the verse above was just a literary way of saying, "Why don't you just tune 'em already!?" You've got to cut the man some slack on that point; he didn't live to hear SFU.)

However, Chesterton and bagpipes coexist happily, alongside Lives of the Saints, political commentary and other unpredictable apparitions on The Inn at the End of the World, a blog by a Catholic gentleman and piper out of Southern California. I stumbled across the Inn quite by accident last week and found it both comfortable and comforting. Take a look!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Another Round

Tehachapi had a bit of rain this afternoon, and when I had to go off the hill to California City, I found it very windy indeed. Here's a rather familiar scene, no doubt, once more looking north along the Sierra Nevada. And more fooling around with special effects.
One interesting development, probably very much for the better; it was so windy that a little speck of something blew onto my camera lens. It makes the zoom practically useless, unless one wants a big, fuzzy spot right in the middle of the picture. I don't yet have a proper cleaning kit so this means, of course, that you will be spared the pictures I was going to get up early this morning to shoot. . .and I was spared getting up early.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Local History

Some years ago, the city of Tehachapi decided to beautify downtown by means of murals. I have heard somewhat divided opinions on that. Some find it beautiful, others declare that pictures do not belong on the sides of buildings. Personally, I like it, as long as they're informative, as is this one, on the side of Kasagiri, the Japanese restaurant, which not only gives you a fair picture of a quintessential Tehachapi landscape, but an interesting biography of an old-time cowboy. Sorry for the somewhat stripey quality of the picture; it wasn't the best time of day to be shooting, but as the mural is often obscured by a parked car or two, I thought I'd take what I could get. Here is the biographical part, a bit more readable. The brand at the bottom left is Tejon Ranch, so I assume the one at the right must be Bud Cummings'.