Just started it. Two German scientists in Namibia during WW2 — they decide to stay out of the war and out of the world by taking off into the Namibian desert. By all accounts a great story. They hid out for 2 1/2 years. Henno Martin wrote this after the war. A movie was made of it in 1991, never heard of the movie either.
San Antonio n the 1870’s. Just finished a final draft of the novel about Simon the Fiddler and sent it off to agent and editor. Am looking for a title. This is a view from the west side of Military Plaza with the Horde Hotel and the Military Plaza saloon just to the left of it. San Antonio became a transportation center and a truly wild place in the years after the Civil War with freight trains (wagons) coming in from the coast, and the coast (Galveston, Copano, Indianola) was where all the shipments came to by steamship or wind-driven ships. Transportation military, and entertainment for all these people.
It was crowded and lively and the old Spanish air of the town was quickly being overwhelmed. I have had a interesting time researching the older fiddle tunes, and find that the names of the old tunes often have nothing to do with what it sounds like. Most people who know country music know “Black Mountain Rag” (in which Doc Watson played 77 notes in 11 seconds one time, on film) and it seems it came from an older tune named “The Lost Child”, and it was just as wild and fast under the latter name as the former. “A Man Of Constant Sorrow” was earlier known as “Down In The Tennessee Valley” and “Red River Valley” came from a melody known as “In The Bright Mohawk Valley”, from Manitoba. Tunes wander and take on other names and other variations, musicians take them and vary them, their variations become popular in the world of musicians — folk musicians — all these changes as untraceable as the water in an aquifer.
Doc Watson, blind from age one, born in the hills of North Carolina in 1923, his playing was faultless, magical.
To all and a restful night tonight. The storms are arriving here. Much work to do getting the horse and donkey up in the corral where there is shelter. Has a marvelous and totally quiet New Year’s Eve and day. Here’s a great photo from the new calendar I got from Jeff and Caroline who are the lighthouse keepers in British Columbia, off the coast of Vancouver Island — old friends.
Finally all the singing and playing is over! Last night Christmas Eve service was fairly chaotic with everybody showing up at five and all the different people/groups trying to rehearse at once, sound system a wreck, but the service Lessons and Carols happened and cantata is over and the group I play pennywhistle with on vacation until probably February. It was all fairly arduous. Got my Christmas spiced nuts mailed off to agent and editor Jen Brehl and Gordon Lish, packages to sister, cousin and the lighthouse people — great new calendar from Jeff of the Lighthouse, he becomes a better photographer every year. I haven’t even opened all my Christmas presents yet. Young cat DT trying to eat the battery lights on tree. Just came back from big Christmas dinner with the Kays down the road. Lots of laughing this year.
Printed out Simon the Fiddler yesterday and I can hardly bear to be away from the manuscript. working with a red pen now on paper. This is what I like best. When that is done I will enter the corrections and then its off to Jen and Liz. No word on when they will start in production on the movie for News of the World but then I would be the last to hear.
These are heavy horses. Police horses, they look like Percherons. They are at least 16 hands, assuming the police riders are average height. Not controlling any crowds as far as I can see. Assuming they have borium shoe-nails for getting a grip on pavement but you never know. The martingales have no attachment between front legs to the cinch/girth so don’t know what good the martingales would do. Also the stirrups don’t seem to be the breakaway type. Also their boots/leg protectors don’t go over the knee. So I guess this is just for the optics.
When the news came over the radio to all parts of America, most people had no idea where it was, what was there, and many were not really sure where Hawaii was. Thomas Merton, in his earliest autobiographical writing, remembered walking down a nearly-deserted New York city street and hearing the same radio news from one open window after another; that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. Every radio tuned into the same station; one uncompleted sentence would be carried on from the next window he passed.
This was Pearl Harbor. A safe berth, tucked away from Pacific storms and waves, the big destroyers neatly lined up. This picture taken October of 1941.
And so this precipitated my father into war, and many fathers, brothers, other relatives into a world-wide conflict. HIs war ended after he made it through the battle of Iwo Jima, on board the U.S.S. Finnegan, and in ’45 at the surrender of Japan wrote to my mother — from some unnamed harbor (Navy censors)— about a British band playing, yelling, cheering loudly as they walked around the streets, celebrating, everybody celebrating with them.
Next job (after first draft done) on Simon the Fiddler is to map out Military and Main Plaza plus surrounding areas and fill in where things were in 1869/70. I know where the Vance house was, and the Plaza Hotel, Horde’s Hotel, other bars and saloons. Also Cassiano’s, also Yancey’s Feed and Supply, finally figured out where the old city hall was (they called it the Bat Cave and the jail was in the rear) and I think the wagon yards were down south on Flores street. This is Commerce Street looking east from the Plaza, toward the Alamo, 1870. Very helpful. Especially regarding the man’s clothes, the make of those wagons. I think they were freight wagons. Look at the rear wheels, they were huge. Men’s hats at that time, at least in the city, were very short-brimmed. Very few wide-brimmed hats that I can see — why? In that sun?
The hills are resounding with the noise of grandchildren and children returning to visit retired grandparents at Thanksgiving, thundering around on ATV’s, Mules, motorcycles and motorbikes. Whatever is noisy and requires wearing a helmet. I am an old grouch. They are all having fun. Spending my holidays alone as usual, just as I prefer it. The silence. The peace. On a holiday like this I am absolutely sure nobody is going to call me, I won’t get any of those maddening robo-calls from CVS pharmacy telling me my prescription is ready, I will not get any e-mails (I hope) and it is truly this graceful elegant kind of peace. Until the next grandkid roars past on his motorbike.
Finished a fast rough draft of Simon the Fiddler today. Now comes printing out and re-writing by hand. Makes me very happy. Riding tomorrow with June Evelyn and April at Lonehollow. Buck is still not rideable so April is lending me Juliette, a pretty little black horse, very quiet. We are all bringing something to eat and drink to celebrate a kind of mini-late-Thanksgiving together.
Yes, I have been very bad. Yes I have neglected my blog. Yes I promise to do better with cat pictures and country tales and Texas adventures.
My cousin Susan and her husband Mark came to visit, we spent 2 days in San Antonio which was — the downtown at any rate, — celebrating the day of the dead. It was wildly celebratory — strange for that particular time but it was.
And the Riverwalk bright and lively. I hadn’t been there in a long time. Susan and Mark loved it.
The new Pearl Brewery shopping and activity center was wild with kids music and altars.
the tributes to family members who had passed were often very moving. Mama, Papi, Nana, I love you I will always remember you, gone too soon, you are in my heart…
Back home now and back to work on the new novel about Simon the Fiddler if I can get to it past all the cantata rehearsals and things that have to be got to repaired fixed healed (DT got bitten on the tail and needs antibiotic, Buck needs his arthritis medicine every day, leak in a rear tire, etc. etc.)
when I was in San Antonio with cousins I tried to fix in my mind locations and scenes of 1868 but it is very hard. Simon plays his fiddle at the Plaza hotel; where was it? Where was the Twohig House, the Bat Cave jail, the Gilbeau House, Cassiano’s feed and supply? When we went to the Alamo and then the gift shop I found an excellent book of old San Antonio photos, taken in the late 1860’s, early 1870’s, which is a great help.
My new cedar fence of which I am extremely proud, plus Billy the donkey plus rainbow. Just finished the second coat of sealer on it. It’s cedar. We’ve had twenty inches of rain in the last week and a half and the whole earth of south Texas has responded with grass, flowers, greenness unlimited. Amazing.
Working away on Simon the Fiddler. Dithered over a certain sentence; when Simon and a group of both surrendered Confederates and Union soldiers of the regimental bands get together to form a scratch band, I wrote ; “And so they precipitated out of the military structure and once again became servants of music instead of the state”, I thought maybe the last phrase should be “servants of war” but then it broke up the rhythm of the sentence. The phrase needed a two-syllable ending with the stress on the last syllable. So I kept “the state”. I know this is nitpicking but I love nitpicking.
My granddaughter Faith is a lawyer with a big law firm in Austin and the head of said firm asked her if she could get me to come to Austin for a dinner. Apparently everybody in the firm and their spouses loved News of the World and they wanted to have a dinner and book-signing for me. Amazing. So I am off for Austin today and I also get to spend time with Faith and her new husband Alan. Auriel will take care of the beasties, meaning Mama Sooty Cat and her rambunctious teenage son DT, Grumpy Grady and Girl Dog. Buck and the donkey will hardly come up out of the pasture even for their morning feed, not with all that new green grass all over the meadows down there.
Friend Nancy Rinn got thrown from her horse Rolf, who is a madman, and apparently broke her femur. That is quite serious. She does dressage and hunter-jumper and Rolf is bright, gorgeous, and untrustworthy. I will hear more later but still have hope it’s not broken, that’s a hell of a bone to break. Bad news indeed.