Saturday, February 28, 2009

Day Seven: The Hard Passage of Secundino Alvarez.

  The light fades and the pickets go over the wall to watch the night. No careless men and no fools. They take a blanket. Most go tomahawk and pistol. A few take a shotgun. Bill King goes and went last night. He wears two deerskin shirts, moccasines and carries Rutherford's double gun. He slides over the wall like a shadow and you don't hear a thing until he tosses a pebble on top to let you know he is back. Says he sits a different place so the Mexicans won't puzzle him out. Him, Milsap and Navarro trade. Last night he wasn't over the wall an hour when we heard Rutherford's shotgun. One barrel. Cu-Tonk!

  Then nothing. We ran to the wall but on top I could see Milsap motioning with his hand. Stay back. Stay down.

  A fringed deerskin rifle sock hung off the top ladder rung.

  Then it started. Wheezing. Then like a kind of a grunting. "Ump. Ump. Huh." A whispering mumble. Something. "Mio. Mio."

  The parapet filled up with low eyes watching the dark. The water was gurgling down at the river. "Mio. Dios. Aeg. Mumbling. Something....something. Dios."

  "Rutherford's double. One barrel. Best sit tight. King'll be up in a minute." Milsap was whispering.

  But he wasn't. Not that hour. Not as the stars swung around and Jupiter dipped low. I lined my rifle up on the whimpering. The blue gun bunch edged the cannon around. One of the Greys came over and checked his watchface on a blown coal off the fire now and then. Four oclock.

  "Mia. Miodios. Something something. Umph."

  A pebble bounced off the adobe with a click and King stepped out of a blue shadow passing the shotgun up. He came over the wall and flowed down the ladder. Couple people rose from around the glowing firecircle below. Milsap handed him the cup of broth he was sipping.

  "Mexican Scout." King let out a deep breath and shook himself from the chill. "Nearly stepped on me. He's done, just not quite yet. Gawd cold. I thought they might come for him, but they never. It'uz either shoot him or let him under the blanket. Knocked him off in some muddy weeds."

  Dawn began to pick out some treetrunks and King pointed out the place. You could hear him wheezing and see his leg slide up for a minute, then back down. Navarro listened with his hands behind his ears. "He's calling his mother and his God."

  By the time the sun came over the East ridge half the fort had been up. Not much to see but you could make him out plain enough. He'd lie still and silent and we would decide he had travelled and then that leg would slide up and he'd start whispering again.

  The day filled with work. The Mexican batteries plonked away. Milsap and King rolled up in two blankets and slept with their faces to the wall. We would check and he would be still. Then we would check again and see that leg move. Quite a debate about putting another ball in him, but it wasn't enough to shoot at. A whole company marched around the East end of the fort past the trees. Esparza called out to the man in a voice you could hear in the downtown plaza but nobody came and never an answer.  Just two wrens in a treetop rasping back and forth.

  "I could stick him," said one of Davy's boys, but nobody moved.

  "Mio. Dios. Diodiohhh."

  We ate dinner and listened as the sun fell. Two of the Greys had bootheeled a big circle out in the plaza and were trying to get bets about how many cannonballs would be inside it by morning. Nobody was much interested.

  Milsap went up at dark out of the firelight to get his night eyes. King went with. Navarro.  King went over with his blanket under his arm. Milsap spit and said, "got dang," and went too. Navarro followed emptyhanded. Knife probably. I heard one little gravel crunch but otherwise they were smoke.

"Dio. Dios. Something. Uhh. Uhh."

  Three minutes later they came rushing back. Dang the noise. Had that man in the blanket. We reached over and hoisted him up, then Navarro. Milsap. King crouched in a shadow and when I looked a second later, the shadow was empty.

  In the room below we rolled the man out of the blanket. His right hand was mangled, gone like he put it over the muzzle and his side a bloody pulp. Smell of entrails and stale blood. Burnt mud. Lung. Maybe both. Navarro whispered to him while Enrique wiped his face. He was grinding his teeth and that leg was clenching still. Bowie's nurse Candalaria leaned into the firelight and squatted down like a man. She took a twig from the fire, popped off the flame on a rock and lifted his jacket with the glowing end.  "Muerto," she said and was gone in a swirl of skirts.

  The parson came and sponged his neck with warm water. We straightened him but he kept rolling on that side and drawing up that leg.

  An hour later Navarro came to the corner room where the fire was still glowing. "He was Secundino Alvarez of San Luis." Nav shrugged a little deeper into his coat. "He had a hard passing."

It was Monday, February 29, 1836.

When the sun came up I went back to the post. The body was rolled in the blanket with blood soaked through the middle. Two cannonballs and a big ring of shrapnel sat in the circle. King was at the cookfire. "If you think I'll say I'm sorry I shot," he said to nobody in particular, "I ain't."

Friday, February 27, 2009

Day Six: Campfire stories.

  Always a work crew going. Dig the well. Dig a trench. Shore up a platform. Carve a loophole. Stuff a hide and bulldog it into position. The pickets watch while men work.

  One of the Greys is a big man. Taller than Crockett and stout like an ox. They joke that riding out from New Orleans when his horse wore out he just carried it. He's not too smart but he's game and strong and anytime a load has to be shoved over or boosted up they call for Bull.
Of course, then it's: "put a little Bull on it." A crew was trying to push a post back into place on the North wall and Esparza was chanting "listo! Bull, listo!" So now it's: "put a little listo on it." He wandered over to look at the well crew and they were saying, "Dawg it! Don't send him down her, we'll never dig him out!"

  Good bunch.

  The worst guy in the company, kind of a mean drunk from down on the coast has dried out. The one man who looks like trouble still fits in. He was sleeping down in the Long Barracks and his snoring drove out the night pickets. One of them stole his hat and when he woke up there was hell to pay. Lots of sand kicked but he when went up top to take his post looking over the cattle pen the dead Mexican leaning on the tree was waving at him. And wearing his hat. He stomped right out there cussing a blue streak. Nevermind the Mexicans shooting.

  Davy gave Bull one of the yellow cats that's always winding around the crowd at the cookfire corner and he's been carrying it around for a couple of days. The cat has taken to sleeping on him. Cottle gigs him about cooking his cat, "say Bull, let's cook that kitty!" And Crocket warns him back: "Don't let Cottle cook that cat now Bull." Bull is always watching Cottle out of the corner of his eye. "Don't cook a kitty Wash."

  And the stories. Around the campfire day or night there are two or three going. We've heard all the famous ones: Riding the lightning bolt across the river, possum in a whiskey jug, blizzard in the bear's den, grinning the coons out of the hickory. One that really probably happened is about the dogs backing a big mama cougar into a hollow tree and one of Davy's guys saw the tail through a knothole, pulled it out and cut it off with a knife. Davy made him bow and apologize to the catamount and then they leashed the dogs and left. The boy traded it for drinks in a bar and they said for a year all they heard was stories about a mad giant mama bobcat up the country. Or it would be a drunk in a saloon with the tail talking up some wild story about how HE cut it off. On the packet boat coming up the Arkansas a card player told them their story, except this time it was HIM that treed the cat and cut the tail off. Had the very tail for a hatband. Davy kept pulling a surprised face and saying: "That so? My nevers! You ever heard such a thing Clark?" When all along Clark was the one who had to apologize to the big cat.

  The Greys have some swamp stories: one showed a scar around his wrist where he cut off his hand in a sawmill. Said a black witch doctor put it back on in trade for an alligator hide.

  The Tejanos catch most of it, everyone crowding in while someone winds the yarn. Crockett told a long story about what language horses speak. Says the Arkansaw horse he bought does everything backwards. Go forward is back up, speed up is slow down, hasn't seen a smart horse since Memphis and says the Tejano mustangs look at him funny. One of the Tejanos bunks his horse in the room under the wall where he sleeps. He gave a low whistle and that horse popped right out of that room looking at us. He made it spin, circle right, turn left, back up, with clicks and whispering and little hand signals. He floated his hat out on the ground and the horse picked it up and put it back on his head. Crockett tossed his coon hat out and the horse wrinked up his brow and just looked at it like he was worried. Blew out the whole bunch.

  Horse came up behind Mirelez in the firelight and hung his head over the man's shoulder while he talked. Sweetest love you ever saw.

  Davy can fiddle now and those boys dance. McGregor blows the pipes up and plays with a red face. Even Bull got up and struttin when one of the rancheros who doesn't speak much started whirling a loop and jumping in and out of it. After a minute he roped the coffee cup out of Bill Clark's hand, roped the shako of one of the commandantes. Somebody yelled: "Rope Bull's cat!"
Everybody kind of froze. One of the Tejanos said something in Spanish and they all started laughing, then we all did.

  "You could put a rope on Bull's kitty," said Davy, " But I doubt you could hold it." Bull just glowered at Wash like it was his fault.

  It's Sunday, February 28, 1836.

  The Parson wanted to pray over the stew, since it was Sunday. About the time we all stood up with out hats off and he started rolling we heard the North battery go. You could tell it was their big howitzer putting up a shell: Puh-bloom! The Parson, he didn't QUIT praying, no sir, he speeded up. OurGodinHeavenwhosetendermerciesdecendonallsinfulmen. All of a sudden Davy says AMEN! and everyone scattered.

  We laughed till we were crying.

  Santa Anna killed a courier from Houston and intercepted his letter. 1000 armed men and eight cannons on the way. He sent troops to guard the road, but it's empty to the horizon.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Day Five: Cannonball Stew.

  South view over the fortified main gate.  Crockett and his men along the low palisade with treetops on the ground outside it.  18 pounder on the left lower corner.  Downtown to the left.  North wall at the top.  Chapel on the right.

  Dawn comes with the North wind still whistling at 39 degrees.  Everyone is a windburnt and strung out from waiting and watching for relief and news.  The men are stretched thin to cover the walls so sleep is only done at your post.  The Mexican artillery is lobbing shells in and pounding on the walls.  You have to watch yourself in the open plaza.   Men are digging handy trenches and policing up the scraps for anything useful.  Nearly everyone can identify various Mexican cannons by the shrapnel left behind.  The north gunners must be bored.  They shoot a brass ball, then an iron one, then another brass.  Martial arts.

  In town Santa Anna's quartermasters and cooks are hustling around trying to find supplies to feed the troops.  They packed light on the trip up, for speed and now everyone is hungry.  The town has been stripped of everything the citizens haven't hidden.  Patrols go to the local ranchos to find cattle, pigs, corn.  Anything.  Might have to eat those shoes.

  The Texicans are cooking beef and conserving firewood.  128 fighting men burn through a couple of cows a day, especially in this cold wind, plus corn and beans.  Folks are getting creative around the cookfires as the salt, peppers and vegetable remmnants run out.  Not very fancy cuisine.  Everyone is trying to find a new part of a steer to eat, but it's the same old parts.  The hides are going to make sandbags and barriers to fortify the Long Barracks rooms. 

  Quite a bit of speculation about how to defend if the Mexicans get inside.

  A few housecats lurking around the old mission.  They're eating scraps or hunting mice around the walled compound.  Couple of them are tame enough to pet.  Wash Cottle says he knows how to make cathead soup.  God help us.  Knowing Wash, he might.

  Plenty of jokes about wellwater, beans and going downtown to have a drink.  "The whiskey may be gone", quips Crockett, "but at least our bagpipe player is sober."

  When that damn Fannin rides in he better have a bottle.

  Quite a few stiff bodies on the ground outside.  The East picket searched some when he went out after midnight, passed the weapons back over the wall and then stood one up against a tree as a joke.  His arm is up and he looks like he's waving.  The Tennesseans joke about shooting the cooks first, next time.  Steal their dang spoons and salt.

  Next time.

  Several men coming back across the ditch last night with armfuls of firewood and scroungings when Green Jameson fell.  Mexican balls were popping on the wall and everyone was running hunched over but Esparza leaned back out and hissed, "Verde! Don't drop those onions!"  Cracked us up.

  Couple guys snagged Mexican Besses and shakos when they burning huts.  They insist on wearing them and being addressed as "commandante."  The muskets aren't much.  One of the hats has a .61 caliber hole in it.  They were shooting at each other in the dark.

  The Mexicans are moving batteries closer.  The sappers are digging all night.  The Generalissimo decides the La Villita battery wasn't moved enough and they have to move it up in the daylight.  The rifles pick a few and punch holes in a few more.  One guy shoots a chicken off a post in Plaza Valera and everyone gives him hell about it.  He retorts he's not going to share it when he gets it tonight.      

  The irrigation ditch is finally diverted.  It's all well water now.

  Someone counts the lead bullets and comes up with 19,000+ rounds, but the powder supply is worrisome.

  It's Saturday, February 27th, 1836.
  Night falls and the menu is seared beef and tortillas under the 18 pounder platform or two choices of stew and beans in the chapel.  You can get it to go.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Day Four: Wood, Water and Blood.

  128 folks left in the Alamo and one of them plays the bagpipes.  What are the odds?  Scottsman John McGregor and Crockett entertain the troops with fiddle and bags.  The Mexican Army has a bugle and drum corps as well as a band.  

  The Texicans were up until early morning hours burning huts, then trying to warm up and get some rest around campfires.  Now that the blue norther has blown in, it's 39 degrees and they realize the need for firewood.  And water.  The Mexicans are trying to divert the irrigation canal the fort has been using.  There is a well inside but the water isn't as good or reliable.  Men are digging it deeper. 

   When they sally to the northwest out of the cattle pens the soldatos maneuver against them.  Snipers with British Baker Rifles try to get position.  The Bakers are good to 270 yards or so.  Serious business.  The rebels are driven in but more Mexicans are killed and wounded than in the La Villita attack yesterday.

  After yesterday and last nights shoot and burnout the Matamoros Battalion set up an entrenched camp in La Villita and is picketing the open land East of the Alamo.  A small battery dug in overnight north across the river and is beating on a crumbly North wall. 

  The batteries have to be moved after dark to avoid Texican gunfire which is deadly out to 200 yards.  They dig all night and then keep to cover during daylight hours.  The .36 caliber long rifles from Tennessee and Kentucky are picking away at the unwary.  The South wall under the watchful eyes of Crockett's men is getting a reputation.

  Two companies of soldiers under General Castrillon are sent closer to check the ground and  Texicans catch them in the open and kill 30.  Picking.

  As darkness falls the defenders come out again, this time to the Southwest toward the river and the Potero bridge to burn houses and collect wood and water.  Col. Juan Bringas attacks, loses a man shot dead, falls off the bridge into the water and is rescued by happenstance.

  The rebels range out to the Nueva Street intersection beyond the Matamoros positions in La Villita burning houses.  The same distance would have taken them to their favorite saloons downtown.

  Overnight the North battery moves again, closer.

  The garrison is waiting on relief.  Fannin and the best Texican force are at Goliad, 90 miles east.  Houston is trying to stay sober long enough to hammer out a declaration of independence at Washington-on-the-Brazos with parts of an army.  Gonzales should be riding to the rescue.  Santa Anna was early but now everyone has the word.  All they have to do is wait.  Help has got to be just a day or two away.

  The Mexicans are getting units, supplies, people up the road every day and sorting themselves out.

  It's Friday, February 26, 1836. 

Update: Bowie had his men, Travis has a company, Crockett brought a hunting party, there are locals.  Two companies calling themselves the New Orleans Greys are in the house.  They have been here since the expulsion of Cos, Santa Anna's brother in law from the town a couple months ago.  Good folks.  Brought their own cannons.  They fly their flag over the Long Barracks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Day Three: Love and War in La Villita.

  Santa Anna wasn't wasting his ride yesterday.  By 9:30 he had 200-300 Matamoros Battalion troopers deployed and moving toward the Alamo in skirmish lines from La Villita, South of the compound.  The Mexican Artillery supported from the Potero Street battery and a new position with the troops.
  One good push and the rebels might throw down their arms and surrender.
  La Villita and Pueblo Volera were poor villager quarters.  Families and camp followers of the Mexican Army quartered at San Antonio, (before the Texican conquest of the city), lived there to be near the soldatos at the fort.  The skirmish lines broke and reformed as they moved through huts, chicken coops, gardens, outhouses and goat pens.  Surprisingly, there were many people still IN their houses.  The Texicans deployed into trenches outside the Alamo walls and along the parapets.  Crockett was everywhere encouraging men and pointing out targets as the action heated up.
  Matamoros closed to within pistol range before the line wavered and then dissolved.  Two men were shot dead.  The Mexicans broke for cover.  Six more fell wounded.  More Texicans appeared in the trenches, some darting from cover to toss torches on the huts shielding the attackers.  The officers reformed the lines for another assault but it was no use.  Tennessee lead was cracking through the roofs and walls of the houses, cutting twigs, kicking dust.
    As the Mexicans fell back they took cover behind a house with a mother and a daughter who was beautiful enough to give pause to the newcomers.  The mother scorned the soldiers.  She was the widow of a Mexican officer.  Her daughter was not to be gawked at by peasants from Matamoros.  The Mexicans fell back beyond rifle range and began to dig in.  
   Santa Anna heard about the young woman and was intrigued.  Evidently the march North had not only been long, but hard.  He was a Mason, (a step away from a Shriner) and knew the road trip rules: what happens at the Alamo STAYS at the Alamo.  Over the next few days he arranged to have introductions made and, (forgetting about Mrs. Anna and all the Annalitos back at the Presidential Palace in Mexico), proposed marriage.  One of his Colonels had a joking prankster in his unit, (never seen a brigade without one), who agreed to impersonate a priest and perform the rites.  Before the end of the week he had the young lady safely tucked away in his quarters in town.  When he left to campaign East he would send the girl back to Mexico where she gave birth to a son nine months later.  The fog of war.
  Back in La Villita the Texicans were looting huts and burning everything in rifle range of the walls.  Matamoros stayed in cover.  As darkness fell that evening the Texicans came out by horse and foot and burned houses as far as 600 yards.  The Mexicans resisted but fighting broke off at 1:00am as a cold rain began to fall.  The temperature dropped 30 degrees.  A blue norther had arrived.  
  In the rain, smoke and confusion Tejano Juan Seguin left to take the word to Houston at Washington-on-the-Brazos.   He rode Bowie's horse and bluffed his way past a roadblock speaking Spanish.
  Nine men deserted into Mexican trenchworks, bargaining for their lives with the location of a 50 rifle armory hidden in town.  One of those things.
  A Mexican reconnaisance-in-force was detected behind the East side cattlepens and fired on by cannon from the Long Barracks and Chapel.
  The stakes were being raised.  It's Thursday, February 25th, 1836.

Update:  On the yesterday's tour Santa Anna came closest along this South wall.  The main gate had been covered by an external blockhouse but the low barricade at Crockett's position must have looked likely.   Plus La Villita gave good cover until you got close.

Update II:  Is there a Mexican version of "How I Met Your Mother"?

Update III:  TWO dead?  Six wounded?  Crockett once killed 108 bears in one season.  I would have thought the Tennessee boys would have stacked them up like cordwood or men who got bored watching cactus grow over the North wall gotten lucky a time or two.   Must have been awfully good cover.  Missed a real chance to take a bite.

Update IV:  Nine guys decide this is a little too intense.  Self-sorting.  Good time to peel off, while everyone is beyond the walls.  Takes the number down to 137, minus about six people that Travis has out delivering messages to Goliad, Gonzales, and Houston.
  What a company to be in! 

Monday, February 23, 2009

Day Two: Shoes, Cannon, Corn and a Recon.

  San Antonio held 7000 citizens in 1836.  When Mexican troops poured in the town bulged.  Houses were seized for officers and men.  Food, horses, cattle, mules, hay, corn and beans were confiscated for military use.  On the 24th the Mexican Army opened the homes and stores of missing Anglos and sympathizers and inventoried the take.  Santa Anna was out and about by 9:00 overseeing the issue of shoes to some of his lead regiments.  These may have been from stores owned by Texican settlers.
  Mexican artillerymen placed a battery 350 yards from the West, (town) side of the mission just off Potero Street and began a bombardment with two light cannons and a howitzer.  The cannons go to work on the adobe walls, the howitzer lobs grenades over it.
  In the Alamo Bowie had fallen seriously ill.  He was moved to an isolated room off the chapel, probably along the South wall and cared for by a curandero.  He passed joint command of the garrison to Travis.  The Texicans ranged outside the walls searching for supplies in nearby houses and huts.  They found 80 or more bushels of corn and beans.  They already have 30 head of cattle penned up against the east side of the compound.
  At 11:00 Santa Anna took a horseback circuit of the Alamo.  On the South side he passed within musket range of Crockett's position when he rode through La Villita, a little suburb that usually held families of Mexican soldiers assigned to the Alamo.  He sends cavalry to cut the roads leading to Gonzalez and Goliad.  Mexican units are still strung out on the road all the way to the border.
  The rebels had plenty of artillery, but not many cannonballs or powder.  Their 20 pieces were never all mounted at the same time.  They ranged from the 18 pounder down to a ship's gunade (small, short range anti-personnel piece) that had found it's way to the fort.  A Mexican shell hits the 18 pounder and wrecks the carriage.  The Texicans repair it.
  It's Wednesday, February 24, 1836.
Update:  The 18 pounder is a monster.  JC Neill and Green Jameson positioned it pointing into town off the southwest corner of the fort.  It's bigger than anything the Mexicans have.  
  It was shipped from New Orleans to Velasco, Texas in Oct, 1835.  A blacksmith mounted it there with two wagon wheels on a carriage.  It is about nine feet long and weighs two tons.

Update II: Bowie has Typhoid fever or something similar.  His wife, children and in-laws had died of a similar illness a few years before.  He's taken to the bottle more and more.  Travis and Bowie have feuded since artilleryman Col. JC Neill (sent to destroy the Alamo but who instead rebuilt it), left to check on his family on Feb 14.  Bowie realizes he is in trouble and turns his volunteers over to Travis.

Update III:  The captured Soldato is deciphering Mexican bugle signals for the Texicans.

Update IV:  Travis assigns Crockett and his Tennesee men a low wall area facing La Villita and adjoining the Chapel on the south side.  It looks like the weak point but they will hold it.  Travis has 146 men at this point, not half enough to man the cannons and the walls.

Update V: People are still moving between the Alamo and town.  The Mexican staff reports they have a spy inside the walls.  Bowie's curandero nurse, Madame Candaleria is suspected.  Travis has sent out several messengers to Houston, Fannin and others.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

13 Days to Glory

  Today and this evening in San Antonio, 173 years ago, the Texican rebels holding San Antonio threw a big fandango, (drunk and dance) celebrating the birthday of George Washington.  Most of the rebels were staying in San Antonio and few in the Alamo Mission itself.  By all accounts it was a hell of a party.  Crockett, Travis, Bowie and lots of folks from distant places.
  Santa Anna had dispatched a cavalry unit to attack the town in the early hours of the 23rd, but rain, muddy roads and a swollen Medina River held them up.  They would have caught the Texicans sleeping it off.
  The next day there was a rumor that Santa Anna himself attended the fandango to spy on the rebels.
  It was a Monday, in 1836.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

First they sit around all day and then at night, the chanting starts....

 One million bottles of beer in the wall, one million bottles of beer!  Take one down and pass it around, nine hundred ninety nine thousand nine hundred and 99 bottles of beer in the wall...

Socks the Clinton's former cat, dead.

  Bob, the White Cat of Death.

  Socks, the Clinton's Whitehouse cat just died.  The press made a big deal about Socks and Buddy the dog when Bill and Hillary were in office.  Funny thing, Socks died in Los Angeles, if you read the story, and had lived with Betty Currie since the Clintons left office. 

 That's 2001.

  So, who's cat WAS this, anyway?  If your cat doesn't live with it your cat?  If you give it up as soon as you move, was it EVER your cat?

  Buddy ran loose and was killed by a car some in 2002.

  The Clintons: Fabulous people.  Good with animals.  I just hope Bettie gives Socks a Christian Burial.

Update:  Didn't Obama promise his kids a dog?  Where's the dog?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Daily Deercam

  Big doe.

  Three big does.  They haven't been in the area for a while.

  Twin buck fawns.  These guys will barely have horns next year and be dumber than dogs.  Easy for them to get shot or killed by traffic.  Ought to have great genetics if they make it.
  One of the young buck fawns.

  This may be a buck who has dropped his antlers.  It's a little early, but will be happening soon.
  Coon convention on the close cam.  May have to fire up the trap.

  Country melting down into a puddle, idiots ascendant, all systems flashing what's the answer?

  Post deercam photos!

Happy Birthday, Ansel

  Ansel Adams, born on February 20th, 1902.  I don't think I ever put my Deardorff on the tripod without thinking about him.  A class guy and a nice guy.  You'll notice I keep the Yosemite webcam on my blogroll just so I can see the weather up the valley every day.
  I expect I'm the only person to ever turn down being his assistant.  

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Slap (chimp) leather! You cowards!

  Disarm and rely on 911?  No problem.  Just be patient.  Use a knife.  Be patient, dang it, they are on the way!  Didn't I ask you to try and be patient?  Or use reason!  Separate yourself from the animals!

 Daley helpfully speaks up.  When they said "Chimp" and "President" I thought they were talking about Bushy McChimpyhitler.  AG Holder says we're all cowards anyway.  

  Real men would have tazed him or done a little boxing.  Why didn't they get a protective order instead?

  For someone armed with only a butcher knife, she sure wanted someone with a gun to shoot that distressed chimp.

  I blame Chimpy McBushitler.

Moral:  If you are going to have a chimp, don't just have a chimp and a knife.  Have a chimp and a knife and a gun.

Update: WWTD?

Update II:  Heckfire!  I completely forgot about Curious George.  Important not to make fun of the President.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Cups of January

  So.  In my list of New Years Resolutions, (NYRs) was the promise to shrink my carbon footprints by not using so many dang styrofoam cups.  We were both burning a couple from Brady's Coffee daily along with one each from Taco Wacco.  Thaz a lotta cups per day. (CPD)  We were chopping down a Styro tree daily in the Amazon Basin.  I didn't want to do much, just cut my usage in half and trim the tree instead of felling it.  Use a little styro-fu.
  How's that going after the month of Janus?  Pretty good: still using the first few cups from the first days of the year.  Just rinse and repeat.  Big tea cups from Taco Wacco...not so good.   It might be a translation error but it's easy to give them the old cup and get TWO cups back.  Plus a styrofoam plate.
  Across the board its pretty crazy.  The fast food nation is built on toss-away containers, napkins  and plates.  Whataburger at least is using a wrap and a sack and the Koreans at the donut shops give you a bag.  I'm going to keep it up.  Probably cut the total to 1/20th on just the Brady cups.
  It ain't reloading.  One brass hull probably equals ten styro-trees when you are using your NYR to adjust your CPD, but it's something.  I may not be green but I am green-ish, and that's a start. 


  Honest talk from some prominent folks.  

  We've destroyed the Bill of Rights and law enforcement in the US over this, as well as dissolving every civil government to the south.  This war only empowers the bureacracy of government.
  I know!  Let's drug test everyone who files income tax and charge them for it out of the IRS refund!

Texas State Rifle Association Convention this weekend.

 TSRA at Mesquite the last weekend of this month.  Gunshow also.  Lots of fun at both.

  Ought to be some news about open carry bills in Texas.  If the TSRA isn't on board, it isn't going to happen.  You could come to the membership meeting and bring it up.

  I expect to see those folks there.

  Update:  Blogmeet anyone?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Daily Deercam

  The boys across the creek.

  Moulting crow in the flash.  See the new feathers coming out of the quills?  Gotta love the moments of photography.  Bird is transparent because of the combination of flash exposure and available light exposure.

  Big healthy doe on the near cam.

  Shadow of Bigfoot.

  Burned about a billion leaves at the lake today.  Congress burned 790 billion on Friday.   Then off for a walk in the Butler Creek bottoms.  Must be about two miles round trip when I pick up an extra hilltop.  
  Strange item: the Great Blue Heron rookery, probably 60 nests in some big pines, has been totally deserted.  Third year in the same spot, now they have left on the cusp of egg-laying.

100.00 Waygu Steaks!

  That's what Obama served when he and the House Democrats maxed out the country's credit card, this time, he and Michelle headed out for a party weekend in Chicago.
  I guess Obama's promise to post bills on the internet for 48 hours so the public could read them before congress voted was bovine by-product as well.

  Dr. Ben Franklin?  We didn't manage to keep it.

Back when this was a free country.

  Here's Mary as a 60 year old  bon viant and professor of english in the studio photography class at Tyler Junior College about 1980.  Smoking.  On campus.  I think that's a misdemeanor now, at the least an event to summon the campus police. 
  Her parents were farmers but first job as a young lady was working for Southwestern Bell in Jacksonville Texas.  There were very few phones then, no drivers license, few taxes, no season for game animals and the Feds actually respected the US Constitution.  A different era.

  Update:  I'd never mixed a drink until Mary taught me to mix bloody marys.  Having a gin martini now, dirty, in her memory.  good thing I'm not operating heavy's to her.  God Bless.

Our Neighbor

  Every neighborhood has a soul, (or the lack of one).  Mary helped define and enliven the soul of our neighborhood since she moved here in 1976.  It might be hard to believe but I knew her when she had nothing to do with children OR cats, but she learned to adore both.  She was a remarkable, adaptable and creative being who lived many different stages and incarnations of a human life with grace and humor.  A rare gossip who never had an unkind word about another.
  Daughter, businesswoman, wife, mother, teacher, thespian, wit, raconteur, writer, mentor, gardener, confidant, citizen and neighbor: gone this February morning.  Mary Burton, January 1914-February 2009.  I know she needed to go and the time was right, but we're going to miss her.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Big Trees

  Used some deer scent on an overhanging branch behind these guys.  They ignored it.

  Mom was just out of the picture.  One of the lake neighbor says he sees this group often.

  Nothing but crows and coons on this cam for weeks now.

  One little hailstorm with tornados and every trail in the bottom has to be re-routed.  It's not just the trees down, but many of the old trunks bring down a bolus of Poison Ivy.  I picked around.  One of the many uses of a suppressor is to lift twiggy branches out of the path.
  Was on the cell with the Good Doctor after corning up the cam and swapping the cards when I suddenly was surrounded by dogs.  Rough bunch.  Some made me and some didn't but I took a quick look for collars and then started suppressing.  I could hear the hits.  Shot two of them three times each before the bottom cleared out.  It took a little blood trailing but I found both, dead.  One went about 150 yards UP the hill and the other 60 yards UP a different hill.  I thought it unusual for a struck animal to climb but they did.  We all did start at the bottom I guess.  Both dogs looked like mixed breed strays.  Matty and starved down.  Hate shooting them but that's the way it is at the lake.   Nice not to have ringing ears.  Suppressors for 10/22s ought to be sold in blister packs at WalMart.
  I have a Leupold 4-12X on this rifle.  I had it cranked up near 12 and just filled the scope and shot mostly.  I assume I used the correct trigger technique because of training.  Didn't get a chance to think about it much until it was over and I was reloading.  Subsonic Remingtons.
  Made a circuit of the bowl of the creek fork that climbs the hills across the creek.  Wonderful land.  Three new scrapes with fresh prints in one.  Rubs everywhere.  I expected to find a shed but am early for that.  In a month you won't be able to get in there without suffering ticks, mosquitos, spiders and snake alerts.  Nothing today, just walking an elevation and using the sun to confirm navigation.  There are a couple of tree climbing seats on some pine trunks on the top.  Not much to eat for deer in the big pines, but it is easy to get one of those seats up and down.  More rubs in the hardwood thicket elevation.  Ought to move a cam up on one of these scrapes and leave it for a month.
  Sorry for these poor old dogs.  On the concrete bridge there was a dead puppy halfway out of a sack of dogfood.  Someone left him along with something to eat.  Now it's all buzzard food.

Don't Blame Me, I Voted For Palin

  Bumper sticker on the way in from the lake today.  Just because you can't be blamed doesn't mean you aren't going to be invoiced for this nonsense.

  REAL Audacity would have been to keep your hands off, cut spending and let the market correct itself instead of this idiocy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Life in Texas

  Hail last night at midnight.  February is the month for interesting weather in Texas.  Santa Anna saw heavy February snow crossing the Rio Grade in '36 on his way to the Alamo. 
  Limbs down and twiggy but no damage.  I got up to let the cat in and ate a few hailstones.  Straight from the hand of God.
  Speaking of God and them, I spent the afternoon shooting photos in a brushy corner at the new Tyler Museum of Art site.  God was left in charge of the landscaping for about the last 40 years in there an you can see his mind at work.  I'm a master at photographing from inside the landscape and was having a heck of a time.  I noticed the usually free-running creek was lagoon-still and walked downstream until I found the beaver dam.  Two, actually.  They are clearing the twiggy brush back there.  No permits.  No impact statements.  Sent by God to straighten things up.
  They do look like they were busy.
  Rubber boots on for the 125 Copperheads per acre.  Museum site is about 10 acres...thats 1250 Copperheads.  We could bale 'em.  Didn't see any.
  Back to being a photo master...anticipating this shoot and exhibition is going to teach me a lot about view cameras and film in my native brush.  All 5X7 Deardorff.
  Speaking of permits and statements I got a car registration sticker, one of the six pieces of paper and permit you need to drive down the road here in the wild and free State of Texas, (good thing we beat Santa Anna so we wouldn't be living in a bureaucratic dictatorship, huh!), today and on the back it says: "Check your date, love your state."  This on a little tax sticker.  I'd love to just meet the functionaries who thought that one up, just once.
  Wouldn't it be something to be beaver free?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Neighborhood Nutshell

  We like all of our neighbors a lot.  It's quite a mixed lot down here in the old Azalea District.  Crack dealer to doctors.  Saying we like all our neighbors is NOT saying we think them all good or wise, but that we like them, sometimes just for the entertainment value.  There are some fairly spectacular characters lurking about.  We make a point not to hold ill will.
  The guy on one side is a yard fanatic.  Always got a project and will work late into the evening pruning and edging.  He doesn't seem to have any hobbies, though we wonder about his sports car and the handcuffs hanging over the rear view mirror of his work car.  He and his wife work hard and make a living.  They have a charming chihuahua.
  My approach to yard work is casual.  I mow, mulch, chop the brush, toss twigs in the creek pull cherry laurel volunteers up by the root and plant a replacement dogwood now and then but that's about it.
  He (and she) had to rebuild the side of their garage, driveway and storm drain to handle water drainage and did a good job.  The houses down here were all built back in the late 30s by a builder who was casual about the property lines, so when he rebuilt I lost three feet of space on our side of a retaining wall and several trees we liked.  Had to move the mailboxes.  That's just the way it was, no complaints, its THEIR property.  But when he finished, he started leveling the ground next to my driveway and I had to go ask why.  Turns out he intended to put in some azaleas and build a flowerbed along the side of his garage next to where we park.  I had to kindly but firmly point out that on his side of the now clearly defined property line, he could do anything he wanted.  Bamboo, naked statuary, fountains spouting fire, et, but on MY side he needed to leave it alone and let me handle it.  Further, he shouldn't build anything on HIS side that needed depended on access from MY side to maintain.  I might build a wall or a carport, or some future owner might, but the basic reason is: it's private property.
  He was quite crestfallen.  He couldn't understand my objections to a wonderful flowerbed and box-cut azalea hedge that only took another foot of my land to complete.  He repeatedly told me how he had planned it and how nice it would look, and how he couldn't execute this landscaping without a bit of our lot.
   Very insulting and disrespectful, (though I maintained a civil tone) that he would assume he could just peel off a strip of my yard to do whatever he wanted.
   I don't think he or his wife are speaking to us now.  
  That's the difference between conservatives and liberals.  Conservatives want you to leave them and their property alone.  Liberals want to do wonderful things and don't see the harm in taking private property to do them.
  This will play out one way or another, but I think I did myself and future property owners on both sides of the line a big favor yesterday.

Daily Deercam

  Unknown.  Wasn't a time I was near the cam.  Bigfoot.

  This nursing bitch, (sorry) was at both cams.

  Crows talking corn at the trap.

  Dogs after the coon.  This will get you shot with a suppressed 10/22.

  This years buck fawns.

  Squirrel adjusting the camera.

  Had the two little bucks.  If they make it to next fall they are going to be awfully cute running around.
  Dogs attacked the trap with a coon in it.  They got beat up pretty badly, blood all over the trap, plus the handle, hand shield and trip levers were bitten off.  Took a bit of looking to find everything. The coon seemed untouched but it must have been sporty for a bit.
  Walked the hills across the creek into glorious deer habitat.  Absolutely perfect.  Plenty of cover, grass, brouse, acorns.  Many rubs and even a scrape.  Two climbing stands at the base of pines up past the best part.  I looked under each of them for brass on the ejection side.  Nothing. One of the stands had been moved a few trees to one side.  The squirrels had been shredding the straps and pads.   Tough hunting without some scent and rattling.
  I need a couple of cams back there with scent for an attractant.  I think there are some big bucks that use this as their core area.  It's over 100 acres of hilltop cover.  I kept an eye on the sun direction so I wouldn't get lost.
  Pig graveyard just off the adjacent hilltop. I thought I was seeing a horse skull until I spotted the one-piece jawbone.   Three year old skeletons of 13 hogs.  Skulls tend to wander off but that was the pelvis (pelvi?) count.  Only one skull had a bullet hole- .30-.38 cal from overhead.  Pistol coup de gras.
  Rode some game trails that followed the elevation contour coming out and homed in on the big Heron rookery.  They were busy stealing sticks from each others nests.  I hadn't been up the hills behind the cam since 1975.  I'm sure I look at them a lot differently now than then.
  I pulled the trap but I wove a cedar bough into the licking branch over the scrape in front of the cam and soaked it down with buck scent.  Be interesting to see what shows up.

Where's Obama?

  Weirdest story of the month is the President ignoring the disastrous ice storm through the central mideast.  Some parts of Kentucky have been without power or water for more than a week now, in freezing weather.  
  Obama's response?  Turn up the Whitehouse thermostat to orchid-growing temps and serve 100.00 a pound Waygu steaks for everyone.  Some staffer should remind him that Kentucky and Ohio are some of the 57 states.
  Enter David Strange, hustler, hard working entrepreneur and (happy to report) a Texan.
  Obama may be indifferent to freezing white people who didn't vote for him, but David sees an opportunity.

Update:  I'm calling Kay Bailey Hutchinson's office and ask why David Strange isn't nominated for the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Update:  Remember when Bush staff moved into the West Wing and the "w" was missing from most of the keyboards?  Didn't hear anything about "o" being missing.  Did anyone?

The Audacity of Hope and the Reality of Pork

  Mark Steyn not only gets it, he's funny.   Instapundit, many others link this same article.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Shooting while Rome Burns

  While congress and the president are busy driving the Republic into a shallow grave some of us are busy informing and enlightening our fellow men without enslaving them or future generations.

  New video up of Rol Coggins and Richard Schultz shooting the Texas Concealed handgun course of fire.  Rol handles the commentary and Richard shoots the heck out of the target with a Les Baer 45acp.  

   Rol Coggins teaches this class.  You could do a lot worse than having him teach you.

  Unlike government programs this didn't cost anything, nor does it infringe on anyones freedom or pocketbook.  It just promotes safe and responsible pistolry.

Update:  61 hits on Rol by Sunday night.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Political Day

  A week or two ago, driving in from College Station, the Senate Republican Committee called.  John Cornyn is the head of it, my Senator.   Sounded fine and I have sent money before to politicians, (though I would like to have it back in several cases).
  I was driving so no credit carding- I asked them to send a notice by US mail.
  Today they called asking where their money was.  Funny thing, about the time I got the notice I also read that Senator Cornyn had voted FOR the appointment of Obama's Treasury guy, Geithner, who was tax cheat.  I sat at my desk and asked myself, "would Cornyn hire a guy for HIS staff whom he knew to be a tax cheat and a lame liar?"  
  The answer seemed to be "NO" and the paperwork got set to the side.
  So today, on the phone, without using profanity or abusing the person on the phone, I went off.  Vote to help fools without my help, thanks.
  I've had it with half-measures.  If the Republicans want my money they are going to have to grow some big, hairy balls and dangle them in the faces of the enemies of the Republic.

  I'm sending the money to the Texas State Rifle Association.   

Update:  Stimulus?  Remember the Dopeler Effect?  That's the tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter as they come at you rapidly.  

Daily Deercam

  They sure cut it close.  Four coons on cam in one photo.  Too many.

  It's like they know where the trigger plate is.  Trap was still open this afternoon.  May have to go to catfood, the secret weapon.

  Quorum at the other cam.

  Actually SAW some deer today- the big doe with two buck fawns.  They look hale and healthy.

  Pileated Woodpeckers in the bottom along with may Great Blue Herons setting up their rookery.  Noisy down there.

  Too many coons on both cams. 

Update:  Crows all over both cams.  Eventually I'm going to catch one.

Capitol Views

  GW as Governor next to Ann Richards.  The Texas Governors are in order around the Rotunda.

  The Texas House Chamber.

  Surrender of Santa Ana in the Rotunda Lobby.

  Crockett in the Rotunda Lobby.

 Many horses and guns outside.  This is Terry's Texas Rangers.

  All images with my Nikon D300 and 18-200 lens.  No problem photographing, as long as you don't use a flash.

Austin Visit.

  Liberty looking South off the top of the dome.

Inside Rotunda.

  I think this is in the Senate Chamber, which seemed to have slightly better art than the House.

   Painting of San Jacinto in the Senate.

  Rotunda detail at the top of the dome.

   Down to the Texas Capitol with Tyler Junior College folks for Community College Day.  
  Very impressive staff at TJC.  The Director or Student Activity and the Provost are very impressive folks, along with TJC President and other staff.  First rate people.  Sharp group of students along as well.  They took about 30 folks.  There were a thousand or more students from 50 community colleges on hand.
  We toured the Capitol inside and out including the new extension.  I'd never been in the underground extension before and it was quite nice, though a little supermaxy for me.  Had that buried feel.  Be interesting to know what else is hewn out of the chalk back there. 
  Watched the Senate and House in action and Rep. Bryan Hughes had time to meet with the group and take questions.  Senator Eltife saw us for a moment, but was locked in financial meetings.  We missed Rep Berman.
  Iconic paintings all around.  Big staircases and wonderful views.  It's a classic working building.
  Security was run by the Texas dept of Public Safety.  Officers posted all over where they could be in eye contact with each other.  They wore really thick body armor.  I don't know if they are expecting trouble or just being ready.  They all were professionally friendly.  Good folks, though of course, the usual holes in security.  Bag check and metal detector to get into Senate and house Chambers.  They did about as well as you can expect without turning into a travesty like the TSA.
  Everyone ought to visit the Texas Capitol.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Daily Deercam

  Squirrel on the cam.  Happens all the time.  They keep the cam case sandy.

  Two deer walking past the cam.

  Unhappy young coon.

  Crows at the cam later in the day.

  Saw a crow flying with a twig in its mouth.  The Great Blue herons are fighting and clacking in the tall pines over the creekbottom.  It's the edge of spring.

  One young coon in the trap.  Cutting the war off after tomorrow.  He made six and that's enough.

Local Self Defense Against Burglars.

  A little LSDAB.  14-year old burglars and no mention of what type gun.  I think this is subsidized housing.  Lucky no one was hurt worse.  Shooting through doors pretty sketchy tactics, though burglars deserve whatever happens to them.

  She could have just called for help.

Update:  Sailorcurt has the correct approach in comments.  SLAP leather, you polecats!

Sunday, February 1, 2009


  Heartless folks.  Arrogant too.

Bird Cam

  Just a LGB* on the wing frozen by the deercam flash.

  Other news: the Good Doctor floated another nutria with his .177 for a total of five.  Nice shooting.
  One of the hunters shot a doe at Clarksville.  Hope to hunt there before the end of Feb.  300 lb pig entered Nirvana as well.
  Up to five in the current Butler Creek coon war.  Going to move the trap I think.
  New Lyman Flash hole deburring tool in.  Wonderful.  The Sinclair is better, but 2X the cost.

*Little Gray Bird.

Update:  The Doctor makes it a six pack of death.  How many Nutrias in a lake do you think?  The obvious answer is:  Not as many as a few days ago.

Update:  Eight.  Only 500 rounds in a tin of ammo....He says the buzzards are not bothering to leave between meals.

End Times

  It's not just the Bush/Rove destruction of the Republicans and the election of Obama.