Monday, July 26, 2021

Why this is, I have no idea. It simply is ....

A modified 1911 & a Colt Officer's ACP

"With so many light years to go"

What you are looking at might be described as evolution in action. The pistol on the top is a modified model  of 1911 which, as the number indicates, came into use 110 years ago. Actually, the pistol originated in the late 1890s, was revised here and there and improved, and formally was adopted by the U.S. Army in March 1911. It reigned as our military sidearm until October 1986.

Special operations groups continued to use the 1911 until 2016, but dropped them then except for Marine Corps Recon battalions which still have the 1911 stockpiled. Some die-hards undoubtedly will carry them forever. A civilian variation became available no later than 1913, and a number of police officers carry them when allowed.

The slide on this particular pistol is a Colt with a Colt barrel and other internal parts. It dates to the 1960s and I obtained it in 2013. The frame is an Auto Ordnance. It came with who knows what for internal parts. It also dates to the 1960s and I obtained it in 2014. I swapped out the parts from the frame for some I prefer and think are of better quality.

All-in-all, that makes it a very modified 1911 ....

In an evolutionary sense, the lower pistol is a Colt Officer's ACP. It was introduced in 1985 and is a smaller variation of the full-size 1911. This particular one is vintage 1987, which I obtained "unfired" for a "pretty penny" in 2014. Other than the grips, it is a full-blood Colt through and through.

I designated the pistol with the mountain lion grips a one-of-a-kind commemorative a year ago when one of the big cats was captured on a trail camera about 40 yards from the Dakota house. I later acquired the eagle grips on the officer's model to spiff it up a bit. Although I shoot reasonably well with these grips, I do most of my firing using Hogue rubber grips with palm swells.

Both handguns are in .45 caliber and each has had a few hundred rounds put through it during the past few weeks. For some of us, there is nothing like trigger-time and burning ammo to relax/unwind/feel alive/put life into perspective/regain self-confidence and, most simply, to feel good about ourselves ....

Why this is, I have no idea. It simply is ....

"Lewis is still a good shot, and it is still a pleasure to watch him. 'I think my release is passing over into Zen,' he said once. 'Those gooks are right. You shouldn't fight it. Better to cooperate with it. Then it'll take you there; take the arrow there.'"

Novelist, poet, teacher James Dickey put those words into the mouth of Ed Gentry in "Deliverance," a story of four middle-aged men on a three-day canoe trip down a soon-to-be-forever-lost river. He was, of course, talking about archery.

Being an avid "old-school" archer, I can appreciate the notion of perceptually traveling with an arrow to a target. I also can identify with the concept in the sense of traveling as a bullet from a firearm to a target. With a bit of "perceptual tinkering," I even can place myself on the tip of the projectile.

With apologies to the Beach Boys: Fun fun fun unless big daddy takes the pistols away ....

Monday, July 19, 2021

"I dream of souls that are always free"

A view from the morning ....

"Outside the dawn is breaking"

If for whatever reason you do not live in a locale such as the one pictured in the July 4 post, the next best and somewhat logical thing to do is to set yourself up in a situation where you delude yourself into believing you are in the midst of Nature.

I am operating under the assumption that while you might not be as much of an "outdoors freak" as I am, you do feel some need to have blue sky and billowy clouds above your head and to occasionally sleep in the open beneath the stars and .... well, you get my drift and, as a judge sometimes tells an attorney in film court dramas, "You've made your point, counselor."

From time to time I mention I sleep on the floor. Currently, that is my habit, I mean. I have been known to sleep in a pool of water or on a pile of gravel, which make for interesting stories. In any case, what you see in the photograph is what I frequently see when I first open my eyes in the morning -- the view out my window as seen from lying on the floor.

Seasons change, of course, and the sun is not always shining, but the view mostly is of Nature just outside my window. The sight is refreshing and calming for me, and to awaken to see snow falling or the moon passing by is especially enjoyable while experiencing the comforts of being indoors no matter what the outside weather.

At the present time, I do have a mattress beneath me, although there are other times when I prefer the hard floor. I like to think the mattress-on-the-floor technique is because I still am a college boy at heart. One of my daughters thinks it is because I am sort of "goofy" and the other daughter approves because she thinks it is healthy. "You literally are getting up in the morning instead of simply getting out of bed," she says, "which is healthy for you."

There are times I "delude" myself into thinking my sleeping habit probably is a combination of all three explanations ....

Sunday, July 4, 2021

"Second to the right, & straight on till morning"

"Second to the right, and straight on till morning" is how Peter Pan describes the location of Neverland to Wendy. To that, I might add: Sleep a spell, then on and on through the day and all through the night and Neverland will be reached "at the time of sunrise."

Those directions are adequate for me to tell you how to find this place, as well, allowing you brief intervals to stop for food and gasoline. Drive a like-distance westward from there and you will be able to watch sunrises and sunsets over what once was known as the Sea of Magellan.

To turn right is to proceed north where Canada awaits. Left is south with Mexico in the near-distance and the meeting of two oceans at Cape Horn far, far away. To make a U-turn is to backtrack to your point of origin.

Decisions/decisions/decisions .... decisions will have to wait because today is Independence Day 2021 and a time for thought and reflection ....

In Congress, July 4, 1776

"The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Friday, June 25, 2021

"Dog Soldiers" & the battle of Greasy Grass

Two years before his demise, George Armstrong Custer led the 1874 Yellowstone Expedition, occasionally pausing for a photograph for posterity by William Illingworth of Saint Paul. With him are his "favorite scout," Bloody Knife, kneeling on the left and pointing at the map held by the seated Custer. Private John Burkman, assigned as an orderly to Custer, stands behind with scouts Goose and, kneeling on the right, Little Sioux. Two staghounds, evidently bored with the photo shoot, are napping near Custer.

The heavy-barreled rifle in the foreground possibly is Custer's Remington .50-caliber sporting rifle he carried with for hunting. You might note each of the Indians has a Model 1873 Colt Single Action Army revolver in .45 caliber and with a seven and one-half inch barrel. Those were the handguns carried into battle at the Little Bighorn River 145 years ago today. These handguns were state of the art for the era; the Springfield Trapdoor Model 1873 rifles carried by Custer's men in .45-70 caliber were not, which is among the reasons the  7th  had a "bad day."

Tuck, Swift, Lady & Kaiser

On June 12, 1876, George Armstrong Custer wrote a letter to his wife, Elizabeth (Libby), which included these statements:

"Tuck regularly comes when I am writing, and lays her head on the desk, rooting up my hand with her long nose until I consent to stop and notice her. She and Swift, Lady and Kaiser sleep in my tent."

Thirteen days later, Custer lay dead on what has come to be called "Custer Hill" just above the Little Bighorn River in Montana. The dogs -- Tuck, Swift, Lady and Kaiser, presumably, were with Major Marcus Reno and Captain Frederick Benteen and surviving troopers under their command on another nearby hilltop under the care of Private John Burkman.

Reno and Benteen were in charge of details separated by Custer from his immediate complement and were not among the troopers who rode with George and killed to the last man.

Burkman was an orderly assigned to the Custers with the 7th Cavalry Regiment. The "general's" other dogs were with Libby, ostensibly safe and sound, at Fort Abraham Lincoln seven miles south from Mandan, North Dakota, the location from which Custer had set out.

It is not unusual for me to take note of "Custer Day," as I refer to June 25, the anniversary of the "scrap" at the Little Bighorn. Custer and "a couple of hundred" troopers, scouts, contract employees and tag-alongs were killed by a few hundred (or, maybe a few thousand, depending on whose figures you accept) Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho.

I have written posts at length about elements of the event, but today decided to simply to run this photograph and a couple of paragraphs. There is such a wealth of material about Custer and the 7th -- much of it appearing in just the last decade or so -- that it probably would be impossible to keep current of it.

Libby Custer, as was her custom, had traveled with her husband the first day out on the expedition and would have taken the dogs accompanying them back to Fort Abraham Lincoln except for the fact some refused to leave George.

John Burkman is one of only a few names associated with "Greasy Grass" I will mention today. The battle of Greasy Grass is the name given to the encounter by the Plains Indians.  Burkman was born January 10, 1839, in Alleghany County, Pennsylvania (or, maybe, Germany). On the morning of Sunday, June 25, 1876, he was ordered by Custer to stay behind with Benteen and the pack train.

"Take good care of the horses, Burkman. We may need them before morning," were the instructions Custer gave to Burkman the night before the battle at the Little Bighorn, according to the Billings Gazette.

Before setting out for the Indian encampment later, Burkman said Custer gave orders for him to stay with the pack train: "Stay with the pack train, Burkman, and take good care of the horses, were his orders to me. And it was the first time he ever left me behind in a fight. Those were his last words to me. And the next thing I knew of Custer and those five companies, was the news of the massacre."

Much of the Burkman information came from Glendolin Damon Wagner, a Billings writer whose books included one called "Old Neutriment." It was published in 1934 and based on information Burkman had told to I. D. "Bud" O'Donnell and who, in turn, had provided it to Wagner. Take that with an extra long hmmmmmmm ....

Burkman survived the hilltop engagement between elements of the 7th under Reno and Benteen and the Indian forces. Burkman was discharged from the army for disability in May 1879. He lived for a while in the soldier's homes in Los Angeles and Washington, but left the last in April 1923. Burkman reportedly was found dead November 10, 1925, in a Billings boarding house with a smoking gun in one hand and a bag of candy in the other. His death was ruled a suicide.

If you are wondering about the eventual fate of Tuck, Swift, Lady and Kaiser, so am I. Since Burkman was in charge of Custer's dogs, they stayed behind with him and, almost certainly, were at the hilltop wing-ding. There is no further mention of them that I have encountered.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Two love songs -- art or not art?

A recent cartoon depicted a caveman proudly showing off his "cave art" which illustrated himself, with spear in hand, pursuing a huge mammoth. Off to the side was one woman whispering to another: "Artistic license .... it really was a rabbit he was chasing."

A pair of questions arise there, one obviously about artistic license and the other somewhat imperceptible, what makes art art? Books / paintings / music and a bevy of other endeavors are subject to the question of what is art and what is not -- and, easily might become a matter of rabid debate.

The painting, by the way, is an 1882 oil on canvas entitled, "Beethoven's Vision," by Austrian painter Rudolf Hausleithner. There are individuals who, I would wager, never have heard of Ludwig van Beethoven. If any of those are reading this and are curious, I will be content to allow them to do their own "research."

"O Mio Babbino Caro" vs. "In the Evening"

Objective: Not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts.

Subjective: Based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes or opinions.

Art: The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Those are definitions of those three words as found in the Oxford English and Spanish Dictionary.

When I was a college boy, I ran across a characterization for art as defined by the Old Greeks. Simply, "art is the creation of beauty." Realizing that no matter how objective we think we are, most of us become more and more subjective the older we become and the more experience we gather. The Old Greek definition was good for me back then and continues to be today -- mostly subjective creature that I am ....

As often is said, "One individual's fantasy is another individual's reality" and "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Moving the same propositions to the world of art forms the question of who has the ability and the authority to say what art is and what is not?

I am rather judgmental and opinionated about many things, including what is art and what is not, and freely admit it. I also like to argue about it .... whoops,  I mean I like to discuss it ....

Here are two pieces of music about love for illustrative purposes and, hopefully, discussion.:

"O Mio Babbino Caro / Oh my dear papa" is a soprano aria from the 1918 opera "Gianni Schicchi" by Giacomo Puccini  and sung here in traditional Italian by Anna Netrebko ....

"In the Evening" is a piece composed by John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page and  Robert Plant for their rock band Led Zeppelin. It is performed here by Page and Plant and a host of accomplices (hmmmm .... accompanists, including an Egyptian orchestra) in Detroit in 1995 ....

Is one art and the other not? If so, why or why not? Are both art? Or neither? I am not posing these questions to be mean, but out of plain and simple curiosity. Musical distinctions often appear to stem from class distinctions and since social dissimilarities are supposedly fading into nonexistence, I am genuinely curious to learn why we think what we think.

Somehow, this seems like a good time for me to excuse myself for a day or two or three .... later, baby ....

Something special ....