Saturday, April 13, 2013

Optical illusion from Wis Guthrie; Sorry, Dave; Gallery of flags; Guns; Pancakes

Clothes make the (wo) man
sent to the raccoon from Wis at the Avalon

Artists Wis and son Jim are busy constructing Guitartown II, their second effort, to be ready in June.



All-American restaurant
is a gallery of flags
front to back
called Dady (sic) Oh's
where we went for lunch today.
We like the decor and the food.
Picture shot from our back booth


From Sunday Review section, NY Times 4-7-13


Some readers will remember this paean to Wern Farms Game Farm
that first appeared in LANDMARK quarterly
the publication of the Waukesha Historical Society:

Columnist Frank Bruni had an article in the same section of the Times
last Sunday on the subject of shooting birds on game farms.
See the following:

Here is the above text in more readable font:

Frank Bruni

Day of the Hunter

People who rhapsodize about the glory of hunting never mention what an unfair fight it is.

Or was, in my case.  I went last week, for the first time, visiting a bird hunting grounds in Pennsylvania with two companions.  The pheasants and partridges there had wings, which gave them one advantage over us. Over them we had something like 50 advantages:  the number of shells for our shotguns.  The gun on loan to me, a semiautomatic, could fire three rounds in rapid succession, which seemed to me as many as anybody could want or need before reloading.  I’m a lousy aim, and I still killed.

I had never used a firearm before, not even on a shooting range, and understood the allure instantly.  My 12-gauge semi was black, sleek elegant, and Italian-made, as much an accessory as an instrument of death.  The Vinci, it’s named, as in Leonardo da, the “Rennaisance inventor, artist and thinker who shattered the technological boundaries of his world,” according to the website of the manufacturer, Benelli.  This is how thoroughly a weapon can be romanticized and fetishized, as if it were a Rolex, as if it were a shoe.

Holding it, I felt potent.  But also anxious, even panicked, with a new grasp of how much could go wrong.  The safety on the Vinci is a small, gray button, and the difference between on and off is perhaps a quarter-inch.  In a moment’s distraction, I could mistake one for the other.  In a burst of adrenaline, I could deactivate the safety too soon before a shot or wait too long after to reactivate it.

I could forget, when not aiming at a bird, to keep the gun pointed toward the sky or the ground. Or my pivot when I followed a bird’s flight could bring one of my companions, so perilously near me, into my sights.  I was haunted by this and by the fact that although I was a first-timer, I needed no background check, no training, no proof of any dexterity to hold this shotgun and squeeze its trigger, not on the kind of regulated hunting grounds (called a preserve) that we went to.  This country of ours makes it astonishingly easy for people to arm themselves and take aim. Is it any wonder that we have an exceptional harvest of gun-related injuries and deaths, many accidental?

I went hunting mainly for dinner. A few weeks ago I was in a favorite Manhattan restaurant, Tertulia, and its chef, Seamus  Mullen, mentioned that he had been shooting and cooking game birds. I said that I had never eaten anything I’d killed myself, and had never acknowledged, in that way, the connection between an animal’s death and my nourishment and pleasure.  We agreed that I should join him in his next expedition.
An experience of hunting made ethical sense.

Political sense, too. Hunting is always coming up when the country is debating new restrictions on firearms, as we are now. Opponents of such basic gun-control measures as universal background checks and an assault weapons ban talk of slippery slopes and raise the specter of parents’ being unable to lend shotguns to their children for a wholesome duck or deer hunt. They assert the importance to hunters of certain semiautomatics that might be prohibited.

Hunting enthusiasts recently went as far as advocating a boycott of Colorado because the state had passed some entirely reasonable new gun restrictions. There’s this assiduously orchestrated outcry that a primal, virile, broadly beloved American pastime is under dire siege from disconnected lawmakers. 

And it’s hooey. Let’s take the broadly beloved part first. The popularity of hunting has generally declined over the past four decades. According to a survey by the Fish and Wildlife Service, only 13.7 million Americans 16 or older hunted in 2011, the most recent year for which figures are available. That’s in a country of more than 313 million people.

In Pennsylvania, the number of people interested enough  in hunting to get licenses  dropped from 1.2 million in the 1980s to about 930,000 now, according to Joe Neville, a spokesman for the game commission.  And fewer than half of those people are such committed hunters that they renew their licenses regularly.

Hunters are already governed by a thicket of state and local regulations about whether they can use a rifle or a shotun in a certain place, for a certain quarry;  about how many bullets or shells it can hold;  about when they can hunt;  about how much, or even what gender, of a creature they can kill.  Any tinkering that new federal measures would do is so puny in contrast as to be almost irrelevant. It’s not going to threaten hunting as we know it. 

And hunting as it’s done doesn’t always hew to the man-in-nature images often promoted.  Paul Ryan with his bow and arrow is one kind of hunter;  a klutz like me with my Vinci loafer – I mean shotgun – is another.

The pheasants and chukar partidges, or chukars that I was after had been scattered across a stretch of property so that Seamus, a friend of his and I could chase them down.  That’s how preserves work.  The birds are raised there, and some are released from their pens just before the hunt.

Pennsylvania has more than 300 bird preserves, including the one where we hunted.  Pheasant Hill Birds, in Honesdale. For about $325, its owner released 20 pheasants and chukars.  For another $60, he lent us his Brittany spaniel, Red, to find and flush out the birds.  Red was Advantage No. 51.

Advantage No. 52:  many of the birds weren’t so quick to use their wings.  We would be within inches of one of them before it fluttered skyward, and it would be maybe 20 feet away when one of us took our shot, which wasn’t a single bullet bur rather – Advantage No. 53 – a scattering of pellets.

If we missed a bird, it tended to land close enough to be flushed out anew.  Only three birds actually fled the area and escaped death.

All of that explains how even I managed to down a chukar. Maybe a pheasant as well:  it was sometimes hard to tell whose shot had hit what.

And there was a thrill to it, no question.  My heart hammered.  My curiosity spiked.  Will a dinner of these birds – gutted, cleaned and cooked by Seamus, thankfully – be different from another?  On my blog next week, I’ll let you know.

I’d hunt again, though I’m in no rush. It was impossible for me not to be nervous around guns, even with Seamus patiently teaching me and repeatedly urging vigilance.

He’s 38 and has hunted on and off since his teens.  I asked him if more stringent gun control would cramp his and other hunters’ style.

“A totally bogus argument,” he said without hesitation or elaboration, then he flitted to a topic that accommodated more disagreement.  How should the pheasant be prepared?


was held Tuesday, April 9, 2013 in the church basement.

As reported before
it was a fine affair.

We walked through the torrential rain and wind from the Odd Fellows hall to take up our work as a pourer of coffee
at 3:30, a half-hour ahead of the start time.  Our perambulating stroll the three blocks to the landmark church had us grasping with two hands the 'bed canopy' golf umbrella to keep it from turning itself inside out in the heavy wind.
People in cars at Barstow and South stared. A smile lurked beneath the strugglous expression we wore.

 We made it.  And the umbrella is back in service as our bed canopy.

(A parenthetic digression; a repeat:)

What we did:

Strung a clothesline
to hold big umbrella
 above head of bed
 shielding  eyes from glare of skylight high above;
put one end of rope over top rung
 of free-standing stepladder (no nails);
counter-weighted that end of clothesline
with an old hand sledge hammer
to allow narrow angle of ladder-lean
to prevent ladder tipping over into the room;
tied other end onto a C-clamp screwed onto
a shelf board resting on loft stair landing ledge 
(again no nails);
the resting shelf is secured only on the
right end, with one small but firm screw hole neatly drilled.


Some photos of this year's pancake festival:

Traditionalists Sid Estenik and Jack Mathie,
members of long note, handle ticket sales at the
top of the stairs.  Bathed in stained glass, they are ready
for the onslaught of local pancake connoisseurs.

Bruce Boeck holds the key job of mastering the batter mix.
This is a sensitive task, for which Bruce is well-qualified.
Behind him lurk the grill flippers, beginning  a long evening of single-tasking.

Interesting, colorful local fellow, Bill Huelsman,
who many years ago came to the Congregational church
at the invite of his then land-lady, Beulah Brockway,
enjoys freeing his mind at the old and faithful griddle.
He controls the size of the pancakes by triggering the
batter hopper kept full by mixer Bruce.  And he adjusts the flame
beneath the turning griddle.

The evening of pancakes begins as the hall fills up.
At this table early Congo-ite George Love finds a seat
with grand-daughter Olivia and others not identified or shown.

Two Waukesha girls attending improvise a patti-cake game.

Congo member William serves seconds on the pancakes.....


In this manner, another annual Cong. pancake supper is accomplished.
Through random shutter-clicks we show only some of the ingredients
that go into the successful rendering.

The circle of The Congregational Mens' Club - from creation of pancakes to the serving of same -
including the planners, car parkers and ticket salesmen, comprises a disparate but convivial assortment, people of various ages and side-proclivities, who together get the job done.  They are backed by a cloud of historic witnesses, some in the ether, and real.

The Mens Club is helped by industrious women who prepare bakery for the upstairs
bake sale, and who assist is serving the pancakes, sausages,
apple-sauce and ice cream. It is a joint effort.

Part of the secret of this local church lasting 175 years is revealed in this anecdotal report.