Friday, December 28, 2007

Hunting guilt...

When my hunt sends electric mail announcements- meet changes and such- the secretary always appends an "E Hunt Tip" at the bottom- don't let your horse kick hounds, things like that.

Today's message ended with:

"Editor’s Note: Because of the format of these e mails, and mostly because of the tremendous guilt with which each of you live, I receive many comments questioning whether the „E Hunt Tip“ is directed at you personally . . It is.

Happy New Year"

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The mess that Greenspan made...

This post is by way of an introduction to themessthatgreenspanmade, a new blog roll entry. He's been warning about all this stuff for years now. Though to be fair, we statistically ALL wanted the money.

Free money. You get what you pay for.

Like anyone who understands that money's value is subject to supply and demand just like anything else (Thank you, Dr. Freidman!), I've seen the new inflation coming for years. The media have decided to call it a "housing" or "mortgage" bubble, but that's just merchandising.

As though mortgages were not just one of the conduits (like the war and the usual corporate, welfare, and medical subsidies/bribes) for pumping up the money supply.

Plus it will allow next year's class war candidates to talk about those "evil(R)bankers". You know, the ones who lent you "good (D) working people" money even though they knew you were deadbeats.

And of course it will create whole new swathes of dependents on government. Starting with the Chairman of the Deadbeat Bailout Administration.

But it's not a bubble, or connected directly to any commodity except fraud by our political servants. It's a plain vanilla money supply inflation- a general decline in the value of a particular currency.

Hold hard there, aren't house prices (the value of houses in relation to money)falling?

Yes, they are. At least the sales of houses are declining, I don't see them actually selling at a discount. But no other price is. U. S. dollars are sliding down the scale of value in relation to commodities and other non U. S. dollar controlled stuff like euros or gasoline.

Because the increase in the money supply drives down money's value, it took more and more to buy houses (and soldiers). While the newly created money was plowed into houses and blown up in humvees, its effects were less apparent. But gradually they have wormed their way into other parts of the economy, to the extent that people have stopped being the greater fool borrowing money, or have just decided to hold off spending it on non essentials.

The declining value money has stopped chasing houses, and started chasing dinner. At least that's my theory.

My projection? MORE inflation, when the bribe/bailout gives the deadbeats even freer money. And the war and subsidies are still driving merrily along.

Borrow to the limit now, buy solid assets, and pay back with less value cash. The same investment strategy that always seems to work in a fiat money economy.

Longer term, don't forget about the 401(k) Tax Forgiveness Act of 2012 (or 2016). The free money created to replace the deferred taxes the boomers won't want to pay will dwarf the mortgage write offs.

Anyway, welcome to the blog roll!

Hitler was right...

about tobacco, limited access highways, and Volkswagens.

If you are a vegetarian, he was right about that too.

If you're Senator Schumer or Boxer or Clinton, then you agree with him about the great public benefits of disarming the people.

Jackie Ballard or Paul McCartney? You are fully on the Fuhrer's team with that animal rights stuff.

And if you have ever espoused the "chickenhawk" argument, or believe that only soldiers should make military decisions, then Hitler is absolutely your man. Of all the significant twentieth century heads of state, he had far and away the most distinguished and serious combat record.

Poor Will Smith. Conservative yet?

As an aside, it interested me to see in one of the news articles a capsule biography of the late Chancellor. It said "Hitler's totalitarian leadership as Fuhrer during 1934 until his eventual suicide in 1945 resulted in the persecution of an estimated six million Jews in the Holocaust, and his invasion of Poland in 1939 led to the start of the Second World War."

(Yes, Hitler did that. All those cheering crowds were extras from Hollywood.)

I suppose fifty years from now the war will be a footnote to the camps. Or the war will have in the public mind happened because of them, like the emancipation of the slaves whoops, the enslaved- has become the reason the American Civil War came about.

Disturbing foods of France...

Most of the food was excellent. But this tea appears to be made from elephants.

And this, from woodchucks.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

After two days in France,

struggling with the language, some people have difficulties. We were at the Boarhound meet, and one of the riders came by with some fairly odd spurs. R. pointed at them and said, "Look at those spurs, they have (holds hands up in fiddly gesture) round, round things on them."

"Rowels, R. I still speak English."

By the way, remember- low spurs mean high petticoats!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas at Auschwitz...

Or maybe "Last train to Dachau".

Is it just me who thinks this Christmas plate is not as festive as it might be?

Reminders of War in the Hunting Field...

One of the interesting things about hunting in the north of France is that one constantly comes across reminders that the ground is consecrated and the flora fertilised by the blood of millions of men.

First are the names. Soissons, Chateau- Thierry, the Oise, the Aisne, the Marne. All names I heard as a child, from people who had not come here as tourists.

Then there are the memorials and cemeteries. Huge ones, of course- the American ones are immense, as are some of the French ones. It seems like every other sign directs one to the Carriere de l'Armistice.

In a way, even more powerful are what I call the solo pilot memorials. About a half dozen time this trip, I came upon these. They were all out in the woods, not signed or visible from a road, you wouldn't know they were there until you arrived. Each was modest and all different, probably put up by family, landowner, private subscription or local authority.

Each was to a single pilot who had crashed at that lonely forest spot. They gave details of name and date, sometimes a little more, but not much. The most elaborate, from 1940, still had the wig spar f the airplane there, with pictures of the pilot and his squadron. Trite but true, all so young.

Each one of these memorials was clearly being cared for by someone- they were cleared and clean. Whoever is doing t, thank you.

And then, there was this...

One day out hunting we barreled around a corner, up a road, and stopped. I stepped into the woods- right into a 105 howitzer firing pit. I looked left and right, and there were half a dozen. Across the road, another battery worth. Poorly sited, too- right along the road.

But they were still perfectly usable, all it would take would be cutting the trees that had grown up in them. I estimate these were from 1940, judging from those trees.

Just as spooky as could be.

I hope the men we gallop over rest in peace, if they can't share in the fun somehow. They made it possible after all- among his many awfulnesses, Hitler was an anti.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rudeness, Thanking Service People and The Gratitude Campaign...

My penultimate day in England, I experienced rudeness and something good.

I stopped by a little pub, about quarter after twelve on a Thursday. It was cold and rainy, and the place was deserted- two women in their 60s running the place. I ordered lunch, which came cold.

How did they do that?

And wrong, too.

But the rudeness was in a couple of comments. "Well, it looks like we are going to have a depression because of your bad mortgages", and "I would never go to your country because I don't like guns."

No wonder the place was empty.

But toward the end of my lunch, an older man came in and started talking with one of the women about Christmas cards. He mentioned how pleased he was that he'd had a card from a Gurkha friend whom he'd met in India during the war, which of course meant 1939-45.

So naturally after I paid, I mentioned to him that I'd overheard his comment and that we were grateful for what he and his friends had done for us. Even though it was long ago and far away, lots of people are still mindful that exchange.

Which is by way of introducing The Gratitude Campaign. It's simple- the sign language word for "Thank You".

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

L'Amour des Sanglier...

Courtesy of F. These wild boar always looked prehistoric to my eye. But I love the "smile" on the near one.

The photographer is Stephan Levoye. The pictures he makes are beautiful. Here are a couple more:

I am injured again...

What is my problem? My friends up north have a new horse which suddenly refused to load. Really refused- turned backwards to the ramp over the leader, truly just defiant. It had always loaded fine before.

So idiot me offered to help. They had one of those heavy racing whips, and I stood to the side. When he reversed and backed up, I gave him a good thwack- at which point he swapped ends and kicked at me hard! Truly vicious, aimed right at my face with just one foot.

It's a good thing I have quick dodging reactions, but he still got my right hand fairly hard. Then of course he walked right up the ramp into the van. Just checking what he could get away with.

Too clever by far, this one.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


I’m going to stop giving the names, locations, and dates of hunts. More on that later, but so it is.

@#$%^&*@#$%^&*#$%^&*#$%^&* antis.

Monday, December 10, 2007

To France...

We DROVE to France on Tuesday. So strange just to say it, never mind do it. In F.’s ride, a baby Jeep. They call it a Jeep Cherokee here. I suppose writing “Liberty” on the outside of a car contravenes some health and safety regulation. The tunnel is very smooth and an easy ride. We left Exmoor at six and were in our hotel at four.

Hotel is l’Abbaye at Longpont. Imagine my surprise when we arrived, it’s the place where I stopped to try to get dinner after the last day’s hunting there last year! A decent place, no flea bag.

Outside the hotel.

Most uplifting sight of the trip so far...

They came to the end of that bit of country and had to pick up to move to the next draw. In doing so we passed through Acton Turvil where I saw the most uplifting sight of the trip so far. Hounds went past the primary school, and it was recess. Every one of the children, fifty or so, lined the school yard wall to watch and cheer hounds. You can’t buy or force the grins we saw, or the whoops and cries of “Wicked!”

Most entertaining sight so far was the teacher. As her charges flowed like a tsunami from their usual games to the passing parade, she was obviously very upset. She shot a quiver full of disgusted looks at the brutal hunters, savage hounds, and deluded children. Then she turned angrily toward the building and stalked back. Clearly her pupils had failed to receive the message, and further indoctrination WOULD follow lunch.

Poor children. But eighty years from now, there might be some old old English man or woman who tells a child – almost secretly, because hunting is one of those things like slavery and the Empire about which we must appear to be ashamed- about the day the lovely hounds and powerful horses with their gorgeous riders passed right by the school grounds. Over there, where the MacTesco parking lot is now, beside the tower block apartments and the Mosque. And like the navvies and the knights, we will have become barely imaginable giants of the past.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Beaufort power changes...

Speaking of navvies, one of the feat-chahs of Badminton are the smoke towers. Back when the railroad came through, the old Duke gave permission on condition that the road be buried under the earth where it would otherwise be visible from the house. Since the smoke had to escape from the tunnels, big ventilating shafts were driven up to the surface. You see them in the midlands here and there, ten or fifteen foot circular walls (to keep the sheep from falling in, they are just the right height to overbalance a yokel) out in the middle of a field.

Well of course a round wall would just remind the Duke of what was underneath them, so he had crenellated towers built for a picturesque effect. A hundred and fifty years of vines nd trees have grown up around them now, and they look as though they really are medieval. Except for the odd proportions and straight lines.

As I looked at them, I reflected on the fact that the entire horizon was laced with electric pylons, and just behind me ran a four lane motorway.

Tempora mutantur.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

East Cornwall meets the Beaufort...

Wednesday, we went north. A few months ago, Captain Farquhar was saying (at a hound show I think) that his hounds could hunt any country. The master of the East Cornwall took him up on it, and they traveled to Bodmin. Today the favor was returned, and the scrappy little rock crawling provincials trod the sacred soil of Badminton.

The meet was crowded. Some thirty ECH subscribers made the trip- TWO WHOLE HOURS!! There were another hundred and a few Beaufort people to add on. So it was about like one of their typical Saturdays. The ECH hounds were smaller and somewhat more varied than is typically found here, but they looked keen and were well scarred up. As all of my faithful reader know, I tend to like a hound with plenty of dings and nicks from getting in there and drawing. Dogs and bitches hunting together, too.

They found pretty quickly and hunted in a big loop around. Just as we do, they have a freeway right through the country. When it was built, the Duke of that day managed to insure that the wire along the verge was buried in the earth at the bottom. So it’s a physical barrier to quarry and hounds rather than an accident waiting to happen.

Hounds sounded wonderful, plenty of varied cry. It’s striking how after just one day under two hound rules in Somerset how much one misses the sound of a full pack.

So we hunted along some more, including a good long bit in a bog covert near the cross country course. Twice hounds came up to right where we were, but the quarry must have turned back. It was beautiful to listen to, though- the air was heavy and the cry really rang through the forest, that fragmenting and regrouping of sound waves colliding with the trees, the atmosphere, and each other. Just lovely.

When we stopped for second horses, I had the opportunity to meet Martin Scott, who is one of the great hound breeding experts of all time. He talked about the fact that the Beaufort had sent hounds to our pack in the 1930s. “But probably none of that line survive, because I believe there was a terrible distemper outbreak in your kennels a couple of years later.”

Encyclopedic knowledge does not begin to cover such a mind. Here he was in the middle of a field and upon being introduced to some American visitor, immediately upon finding out to which pack he belonged, was able to whip out information connecting the visitor’s pack with his own.

Nor does civility begin to cover his bothering to do that. Just to let a visitor feel noticed.

So at horse change, we stood around and waited among the hounds. They were a bit varied, smaller than the usual English hounds and more lightly built. I pointed out one bitch who was very like the black marked strain in our pack.

There was a girl there, a groom or hanger on, who was just lit up being with hounds. Very difficult to watch.

So off we went, and hounds drew hard into the first covert. Out came the quarry, and we watched it off across two fields into another wood.

Then there was another clear illustration of my pet variability of scent from hound to hound hobby. Hounds came out of covert on the line, and checked at the fence line. They milled and then cast themselves beautifully around the crossing spot. Only a couple of the 20c or so even noticed the line, which was at most 3 minutes old in cool, damp conditions across an empty grass field. (And the leading hound was the black one I had pointed out, thank you.)

And on we went, hounds hunting hard but most of them just couldn’t hold on to anything at all for long. A pity, their cry when rolling was beautiful.

And afterward, a feed in the village hall. The Beaufort was very welcoming and generous, once again defying the stereotype our enemies paint of us as exclusionary aristocrats.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

#$%^&* BBC !

So all day I've been driving in England. Every half hour I hear, "A gunman opened fire on a crowded mall in Omaha Nebraska, killing eight. The gunman, (annoncer says name) left a note saying he wanted to go out in style".

ONCE AGAIN, from April 17,

Wouldn't it be fine if Ted Turner, Rupert Murdoch, or the editor of the Chittlin' Switch Morning News issued a statement like this?

"We hereby announce the following policy concerning coverage of mass killings. The people who commit these crimes will receive absolutely no coverage in our outlets. Their names will be unspoken, their goofy pictures unshown, their silly notes unread. Their lives will not be explored. Their trials and tribulations will not be exposed. Their families will not be interviewed. They are unpersons here. Anyone employed here who violates this policy, or refers to such killers with any terms other than killer, trash, coward, or loser will be discharged forthwith.

Go ahead and kill people, but you won't get any fame here."

My thought on all this is, doesn't just ONE media outlet have the decency and courage to not give the killer fame? These people do these slaughters because they know everyone will finally see and hear them. We'll read their rants, torment their parents and friends,know their names and faces.

The next mass killer is watching, too.

Last Hunting Day in France...

As usual, please click on these pictures- they have lots of detail in the larger versions.

The next day, stags at another forest. This was the pack that got me premonia last year in the mighty Oise. This time we met some distance away, in a somewhat rougher forest. The day was clear and warm, and the people very welcoming and friendly as they had been last time.
Even the ones who recognized me. R and F riding again, on rougher looking horses than day before yesterday.

Last year, I recall the huntsman telling me that they had several D&S hounds. I told him I could tell which ones, and pointed to several. “’ow did you know?”

I just pointed to the ones with one eye, or an ear off, missing teeth.The French hounds were all preeeeetty, ours looked like they had been in a lifetime of bar fights.

So on that day, they had been cussing and swearing at “Mascot”, a D&S transfer. At the meet this time, whose name do I hear?”

“Arrrrette, MASCOT!” He must hunt like crazy.

Off we went, I was in a car with three generations- grandfather, son, and grandson, all chasse followers. The youngest was even named Hubert!

They drew a recently cut area first.

I had a bit of excitement when a stag jumped from cover so close that he spattered mud on me! Not a huntable one though, too small. Then they picked up and moved, and I saw te only western style rider on the trip.

Moved on, to find in another block of forest. This one was less well maintained and parklike than Compiegne, and far hillier. The first stag was too small, a “dague”, what we call a pricket. Then they jumped a foursome- a good stag and three prickets. And, off! Hounds ran off and on, but they could not really hold tightly. One run was longish and fast, in a big loop. But it petered out, to be followed by long draws.

Some of the hunters were not so thrilled.

French hunters don't drink while out like we and the English do. But smokes were snuck.

It was an awfully pretty day.

Clearly there was not much scent, and hounds soon couldn’t cope. There was one point where a hid and calf crossed a hill side only a minute or two before hounds drew the same spot- not even a head down.

The huntsman tried hard, but had no luck. They overran a baby boar, which apparently does happen. After the self serve pork chop lunch, they did very little. Again not for want of trying by the huntsman, who really did make an effort. You can see from these pictures the sort of country with which he had to contend.

There was some confusion when he had to pick up hounds and move in response to viewings of deer in other places, too.

Then about three thirty it came on cool, and they struck. A quick run through the woods and toward a village, but again scent failed.

They kept trying, though. The run died out at the edge of some broad water meadows, a lovely end to the day.

Still a beautiful and interesting day.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Exmoor courtship...

While putting a log in the stve, F. was explaining how a local young lady of her acquaintance was trying to seduce a local young man. The friend had dressed in something slinky, put on music...

And at that moment the stove gave a thump. I said, "Whoa!"

And R. said, "That's more effective on Exmoor. Forget the lingerie, she can make fire!"

Cathedral and art musings...

Sunday, to Exeter at 110 mph! It’s a rental… Went to the Cathedral. It looks small and dense from outside, but as always glorious inside. The fan vaulting is a joy to gaze at, peaceful and powerful at once. As always, a marvel that they were laid out and built by men who had no conception of area, volume, or angles. They didn’t even have the numbers to do the math if they had thought of it!

Perhaps one day people will look at a Saturn V and make a similar comment.

Some think of these as means of social control, saying to people in mud huts “Look what our God can do!”

But I don’t know. The people did the actual construction work, and they would have known that the priests needed them to do it. I’m still inclined to see them as cooperative efforts of praise. To my eye and mind they are too graceful and welcoming to be the work of slaves.

Another thing occurred to me, reading about and thinking what it must be like to be an artist. Last week I was in Salisbury Cathedral, and yesterday the one in Exeter. Both are magnificent beyond description.

But I can imagine someone who designed one coming to visit the other. "Oh, this is so much better than mine! This vaulting is more delicate, and there is so much more light! I am awful!"

Whatever drives us to our best natures also shows our worst to us in the harshest light. That's the deal. Like violence or evil, the artistic end of the bell curve can't exist without the self critical. You wouldn't rather be stupid, insensate, and accepting of the ordinary, would you?

It seems to me that artists- people who envision, express, and make those real- must have it rough. That thing inside them has to be like the steam in an engine, expanding almost beyond control, driving them with a force they can't really contain. If they don't convert it to something, they will blow up like a boiler would.

R. said tonight that a particular artist was "disturbed", meaning mentally ill. But I wonder if artists are innately disturbed, that there is somehow too much inside them- the disturbance is internal and an element of who they are. A couple of people in my own life have been like that. So huge in the present moment that there was neither past nor future, just now. It's great to feel that way- sometimes I almost can again- but it's awfully strong.