The equinox is in a few weeks, where the sun hits the halfway point on its long march south. At these latitudes it is quite a journey, and just now the sunset has moved south of the power lines and is giving us some pretty views:
My summertime’s drive for fishing is now being overtaken by my drive to get out in the field after some birds, but I have to wait for full residency, which comes one year after switching my Colorado driver’s license for an Alaska one; specifically, on February second. I understand the reason for that law, but the beautiful fall weather, the big stretch of borough land behind us and the hand-crafted Tolley side-by-side double in my gun safe are egging me on. Next year, dammit!
Audrey Hepburn was the epitome of style and grace; she was more beautiful in jeans, sweater and a towel over her hair than many women are in evening gowns, as you’ll see in this week’s selection. And she wasn’t without pluck; during World War 2 she raised money for the Dutch underground during the German occupation of the Netherlands, an activity that may well have gotten her shot had she been caught in the act.
In the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Hepburn played the iconic character Holly Golightly opposite a very young George Peppard, with a brief appearance by the remarkable Buddy Ebsen. It’s a great film featuring a great star, and at one point she gives voice to the song Moon River. Here, in a clip from that film, is that lovely, classy lady and that beautiful song – enjoy.
Someone told me a while back that, of all the immortal Douglas DC-3s still in use in the United States, well over half are flying in Alaska. I haven’t taken the time to confirm that but we do see DC-3s regularly passing overhead, sometimes two a day. They’re great for small Alaska airfields: Rugged, rough-field capable, dependable, and able to carry big loads. I expect we’ll see them in use here in the Great Land for some time to come, which is pretty good for a model of aircraft which once carried the Old Man from Lowry Army Airfield, Colorado to Victorville, California, in 1945. He described that trip in an Army C-47 as “being sealed in a tin can full of bolts and shaken,” but then, his sorties in B-25 and B-17 bombers in that time frame were very similar, or so he always told it.
Here’s a neat video of a startup and takeoff of a Swissair DC-3. What a beautiful old bird. It’s great to see them still in use.
Mike Nesmith is probably best known for his tenure with The Monkees, but the post-Monkee Nesmith did some… interesting stuff. Among other things, he was one of the pioneers of the themed music video, along with his buddy Frank Zappa and the prescient David Bowie.
In 1981, Nesmith released a video album (on Laserdisc!) called Elephant Parts. It was odd, to say the least, but worth a watch. Here, from that album, is the classic work Cruisin’. Enjoy.
In difficult times like these, it’s helpful to look closer to home, at the good things in our lives. Your mileage may vary, but of late I’m taking more and more pleasure in our regained rural lifestyle here in the Great Land. Every morning, walking over to the office requires going outside, rain, snow or shine. We had our first frost last Friday, the leaves are turning, and it’s a great time to be outdoors. And that’s a good thing; every day we breathe the free air of Alaska.
Our most regular visitors at the feeders this time of year, as we are exchanging summer birds for winter birds, are juncos, red-breasted nuthatches and black-capped chickadees. Chickadees are my favorites, and like the nuthatches and juncos they are year-round residents. They seem immune to winter weather in spite of being one-ounce bundles of fluff and feathers, and they punctuate the morning with their cheery calls. I enjoy having them around. Also, we have one nuthatch we call Mr. Noisy, as he keeps up a constant flow of chatter as he flies to and fro, and even as he’s eating. It’s amazing that such tiny creatures can have personalities, but they sure do.
News and politics aren’t everything, True Believers. Sometimes we need to be reminded of that. Relax. Look out the window. Take a deep breath. Things aren’t all bad.
I think we could all use something cheerful, don’t you?
Paolo Conte is an Italian singer, pianist, composer, and lawyer. I can’t speak for his lawyering but his music is kind of fun; he has a gritty voice, and his music has a distinctly Mediterranean feel to it. You can almost picture yourself seated at a table at Alassio or Levanto, enjoying a glass of white wine, watching the ocean and listening. Not my normal cup of tea, but something I could appreciate, given the chance.
Here, from his 1990 album Parole D’Amore Scritte A Macchina, is the song Happy Feet. Enjoy.
We’re quickly sliding into autumn here in the Great Land. That means laying in a supply of firewood, of course. While our property isn’t expansive enough to allow us to take all our firewood needs here, at least this year there were a few down birches the power company cut for being too close the power lines. In such cases the downed trees are left for the landowner, and so now I have a good supply of decent stove wood that just needs to be cut, split and stacked.
That’s the work part of autumn. The fun part, at least this year, is this: Last Sunday, Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. took a drive up Denali way, to see the fading summer and enjoy a late Sunday breakfast at a favorite place of ours a ways north of Cantwell. It was a gorgeous, clear day in between the usual run of clouds and rain we get this time of year. Since we probably won’t go up much north of Talkeetna in the winter, we wanted to make sure to have at least one more drive a little ways north before snow falls. It was a perfect day, and another reminder of why we moved here. Here, have a look:
Alaskan I am now, but at heart I’m still a rural/small-town kid from eastern Iowa, and I suppose I always will be. One place I remember well from my youth is Grundy County. This place contains some of the world’s finest farmland and, back in the day, had some great pheasant and rabbit hunting. Most of my family lives in eastern Iowa today, and I’m pretty pleased to see the grandkids growing up in farm country, involved in 4H, and living a clean, healthy life far away from our ever-more-screwed up cities.
Back to Grundy County. Here, from country singer John Michael Montgomery, is a look at that agricultural world, wrapped around his song Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident.) And boy howdy can this girl dance. Enjoy.
Here in the Great Land, our summers are short and mild, while our winters are long and cold. We know that and expect it – this is Alaska, after all, not Miami Beach.
What a lot of people don’t get about the summers here, though, is how wet they are. It’s been raining on and off pretty much the last two weeks. During that time, at the gas station and our favorite lunch spot/watering hole, I’ve heard a few summer vacationers express surprise at that, although every vacation guide cautions visitors to bring rain gear. Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. knew that when we moved here, but then we had spent a lot of time here pre-move.
Unlike a lot of places – those with April showers bringing May flowers – Alaska’s driest month is April. The wettest is September. In October it starts to snow. And that’s OK. After thirty years in arid Colorado, it’s nice being someplace green, and the rain and snow is what makes that happen.
We just keep learning more and more about this place, and every day, for a wide variety of reasons, we’re happy to have made this move.
If you’re talking about country music, you only need two words:
George’s career spans decades. His style hasn’t changed much – his voice is butter-smooth, his lyrics speak to us folks in flyover country. And, unlike a lot of celebrities, his personal life is… well, normal, not the train wreck that seems to afflict so many in show business.
Here, from his 2001 album The Road Less Traveled, is one of my favorite George Strait songs: Run. Enjoy.
What with the nature of small-game hunting in Alaska, I’m toying with the idea of seeing if I can find an old Savage 24 combo gun, preferably in .22LR over 20 gauge. Why, you ask? Well, I’m a-gonna tell you.
Small game seasons here in the Great Land are long, with generous limits. Spruce grouse and snowshoe hares are plentiful and good numbers of them can be found withing walking distance of where I sit at this moment. But both are also known for occasionally stupidly sitting still and looking at the hunter, while others will run or fly. It seems, that being the case, that having either a .22 or a shotgun load interchangeably at hand might well be the order of the day. Or, it may just be a good reason to buy another gun, one that I’ve always found interesting.
Piers Morgan is an unapologetic leftie, but when he’s right, he’s right. Especially with this bit: “I think Cuomo should have gone after it emerged that he ordered nursing homes to accept thousands of potentially COVID-positive patients when they were discharged from hospital during the first wave of coronavirus in March last year, without requiring the residents to test negative for the virus first – thus condemning countless old, vulnerable people to needless death.” I couldn’t agree more.
This sorta-kinda predates me; in 1965, I was four years old, and not paying too much attention to popular culture. In later years, though, I did develop an appreciation for Welsh singer Tom Jones. He’s got a big helping of talent and charisma and, last April, at 81 years of age, he released a new album, Surrounded by Time. That, True Believers, is staying power.
Back to 1965. Following the release of Jones’ first album, Along Came Jones, Tom appeared on the famous Ed Sullivan show. It’s important to note that the TV in these days was generally broadcast live; this is a true live performance, unlike a lot of the lip-synced horseshit that became routine later. Here is the great Tom Jones, with It’s Not Unusual. Enjoy.
It’s a lovely time of year up here in the Great Land. As we move into August, the leaves on the birches, poplars and alders around the place are turning from the bright green of spring and early summer to the darker green of late summer, and in a few places there is a bit of yellow starting to creep in.
Meanwhile, the fireweed is growing up thick and fast everywhere. Mrs. Animal is starting to gather the blossoms for fireweed jelly. Fireweed grows pretty much everywhere up here. It takes its name from being the first plants to move in to burn sites, and in late summer it turns all the roadsides this lovely purple. We have quite a bit of it around the edges of the yard. I’d like to get some Indian Paintbrush and some Forget-Me-Nots planted as well.
In another week or two, the berry season starts. Alaska just continues to prove itself better and better.
This last Monday from our good friend and fellow blogger Jillian Becker: A Reign of Stupidity. Go read it all, but here’s my favorite bit:
Now, in America, under a leftist Democrat federal government – the stupidest government the republic has ever had with a doofus gone senile for a president, a cackling fool for a vice president, a childishly vindictive harpy for speaker of the House, all supported by mass media staffed with parrots and toadies – generations are being raised to be ignorant and dumb. Illiteracy and innumeracy will be conditions of honor; ability, talent, mastery, mere proofs of “white privilege” and “white supremacist” ambition.
One of, if not the best female vocalist alive today is Mary Fahl, formerly the lead singer of the 90s alternative band October Project. Mary has had a modest solo career since leaving OP, mostly playing small venues around the country and releasing a few albums. Mrs. Animal and I have seen her live twice, and it’s neat; she played both times to audiences of less than a hundred people, and stayed afterwards to chat with members of the audience.
It’s important to note that Mary has had not one day of formal training. Just a lot of practice and natural talent.
She also does larger shows, such as one of her live albums recorded at New York’s Mauch Chunk Opera House. Here, from that show, is the closing number, Be My Hero. Enjoy.
Last weekend we had two of our four kids visiting, so on Sunday we took them down to Seward to the Alaska Sealife Center. If you’re ever in the Great Land, I recommend a visit. The Center has some neat actual animals in residence, including sea lions, harbor seals, and a big variety of sea birds, fish and other marine animals. There’s a touch display that the little kids really enjoy, and plenty of info on the sea life native to the Gulf of Alaska and other Alaska waters.
Also, the town of Seward itself is interesting. It’s got a kind of touristy little main drag, with lots of souvenir shops and a few really good restaurants. If you want to look around for some kitschy little Alaska doodads or some t-shirts, and then maybe have some fresh halibut and chips for lunch, Seward is a decent place to do that.
Once in a while I go on a nostalgia kick, music-wise, and one of my go-tos for those times is Glen Campbell. In 1977, he released what I’ve always considered one of his better tunes. Hearing it always takes me back to the summer I was sixteen, and careering around northeast Iowa in a pickup truck, stirring up lots of dust from those gravel roads.
The song in question tells a tale of Campbell’s own youth in rural Louisiana. Here, then, is that song, from the album of the same name: Southern Nights. Enjoy.
This is some Gestapo-level shit right here. We generally presume that our personal communications are, you know, private, and now the Biden(‘s handlers) Administration and the DNC as much as admitted that they are not. What’s more, they as much as admitted that they want to spy on our personal messages. For our own good, of course!
By the way, who died and yielded any authority to the DNC to do any of this? They aren’t a government agency, or anything close to it. They have zero business being involved in this tom-fuckery at all. And what the hell are these “Biden allied groups?” What groups? Who are they? Why are they involved? Under whose authority? Where in the Constitution is any of this horseshit authorized? Oh, wait, it isn’t!
I can only hope for some serious backlash in 2022, but at this point, as I have been for some time, I’m preparing for the worst.
He has a singular style, of course, and has put out a few good tunes, but I never really got the whole “island hillbilly” shtick. Still – he’s earned his success, having had a long and successful career.
But Buffet had a music career going before he want all-in Caribbean, and one of the better tunes to come out of that period was his 1974 song Come Monday, from his album Living and Dying in 3/4 Time. And, so, with no further ado, here it is. Enjoy.
Another resident said the issue they run into with reporting the illegal farms is that there are so many that law enforcement puts them on a list and they do not know which ones are a priority to get rid of. (Los Angeles County Sheriff) Villanueva (a liberal Democrat) said he prioritizes the farms that are nearby the residential areas along with loosening the “may-issue” requirements for residents to obtain concealed carry firearm permits so they can better protect themselves.
Wait wait wait – so now, in extremis, when citizens are being confronted by armed cartel members literally on their doorsteps – now is the time to loosen up the issue of carry permits?
Welcome to reality, Sheriff Villanueva. Here’s a thought: How about the people of LA County tell their obviously failed law enforcement to get stuffed, get a citizen’s militia together, photograph the cartel guys from drones, publish their photos and putting a $1,000 bounty on each one – dead or alive?
Genesis, led by front man Peter Gabriel, formed in 1967 but didn’t really gain traction until the 70s, with a couple of additions to the group that notably included drummer Phil Collins. In 1983 the group released their twelfth album, the eponymous Genesis, which included the jarring tune Mama.
It’s an odd song, especially considering the mostly upbeat tone of the band, typified in their previous (1981) album Abacab.Mama features a thumping, almost overwhelming synthesized drum beat, a wavering guitar lead, tremulous keyboards and, most of all, Phil Collin’s jarring vocals set off by a laugh that’s downright unsettling. It’s an odd song, set off by a video that sets a mood that is… Well, you decide. Here it is.