Sunday, April 29, 2012


El Fisho Jr. and I took a trip to the town of Sattler, Texas on the infamous River Road. There are a couple of places for fishing there, and the one we went to is a campground/rv park/rental cabins and canoe/kayak/raft/tube rental. They've got a 1/4 mile of accessible frontage at this spot, and nearly the entirity of the land opposing this spot is cliffs, meaning more or less deeper water and several deep pools within casting range.

It's always interesting to see what the river level is at this spot. I've come to this area many times over many years, nearly for forty years. It's one of the few spots in Texas where rainbow trout and brown trout survive year round. The cold discharge from the bottom of spring fed Canyon Lake is cold enough to sustain the cold water needing trout year round, and I've seen some large trout caught in this area over the past many years of avid fishing.

We fished near the fourth crossing, and if you've ever been to the area you know the bridge I speak of. I've taken out countless times in canoes, kayaks and rafts just under the bridge, and this stretch of river was once almost the end of me in The Great Kayak Wreck story.

We didn't have any luck catching today, but we had a good time fishing. We saw two groups of momma ducks with teeny tiny ducklings learning the ways of the area. We saw a pretty good sized water mocassin, which slipped into the water from some rocks about 5 feet from us.

El Fisho Jr. spotted the snake first. I had to repress my first instinct which was to draw and fire the CCI shotshell from my Smith and Wesson snubbie. The snake was certainly within "for sure" shooting distance, but we were on the property of some folks who don't care much for gunplay on their property.  The snake went on about it's business after checking us out and deciding us unworthy of further attention.

There was no hatch to speak of, other than mosquitos and some flies. It was a cloudy but already hot and humid day. Fortunately, there was plenty of shade where we were at as well as good fishing access to the river with gentle sloping shores.

I did observe lots of minnows of some sort in the shallows, and I put on some different varieties of GULP short lead-headed minnow type imitation. Sorta like a mini Mr. Twister worm with a curly tail. It had a good action in the water, and that particular lure, in mostly green colors replete with fish eyes, has done well for me on the Guadalupe before.

I saw several fish swimming in and out of the big holes we were fishing in. Several large channel cats and what could've been trout or smallmouth/largemouth/guadalupe bass. It was too cloudy and although the water was clear and green, the shadows on the water from the clouds didn't help me determine what types of shapes were cruising the deep holes beneath the cliffs.

I saw a couple of gar as well, quickly getting my lure past them on the off chance they might go for it. It's happened before. Gars are funny fish, and nasty fish. I just don't like messing with them. It's almost impossible to retrieve a lure a gar has swallowed without incurring some kind of injury to the hands. Gar have rows and rows of sharp teeth and an abrasive outer skin. They are prehistoric and I care not to catch them or mess with them really in any manner.

I remember reading an old Ed Zern story that had a receipe that is good for gar. Zern, the back page humorist for Field and Stream in days of yore, I think had this receipt about carp. Zern's formula was simple: cut the carp into steaks and marinate the steaks in a fifth of whisky in the fridge. In the morning, throw the carp away and drink the whisky.

Seems like a waste of good whisky by making it all fish tasting but the receipe was funny.

The brunch and yuppie bed and breakfast crowd was out in force in Gruene this afternoon, so much so we couldn't find a reasonably near to the restaurant parking spot. Nor could we park anywhere near the Gruene outfitters store. The Fly Shop wasn't open in Sattler, so there was no getting sage advise and "hot fly" tips from fishing emporium employees and customers.

As it was, there was no surface action on the river, so the fly rod stayed in the case. I used a decades old Berkley Cherrywood spinning rod topped with a mint condition Mitchell 300 spinning reel, sporting 12 lb. Stren mono.

El Fisho Jr. had a lightweight Daiwa rod topped with a red Abu Garcia Abumatic 170 spincasting reel. We also had an ultralight Berkley fairy wand with a Shimano mini-spinning reel holding 4 lb test. It never broke the water.

We had other rods and reels packed in a duffle in the car. On previous trips to the Guadalupe, there have been catfish runs in the spring, when channel cats were seemingly in a feeding frenzy. Chicken livers were always the best bait for cats on the Guadalupe for me, on a large saltwater hook. You need a bit heavier duty rig for the larger catfish, and to force them out of their hiding spots amid the rocks that are everywhere on the shoreline and underneath the water.

So I usually bring along some heavy duty freshwater/light duty saltwater rods and some big Zebco 808 Saltwater reels and some gray Abu Garcia Abumatic 290's loaded up with 20 lb test. These are travel rods and thus fit in a small duffle that doesn't leave the car unless the cats are happening. And today, although we were not fishing for catfish, they were there and the ones I saw looked like healthy specimens.

Both El Fisho Jr. and I got snagged numerous times on a rock shelf that was at the edge of one of the deep holes we were fishing. Fortunately, changing positions on the bank and stern pulling resulted in us recovering our lures on all occasions.

But alas, today was a fishing day and not a catching day. We did have a major equipment failure that I am sorry to see. I have a REBEL brand hip roof brand tackle box of which I've gotten some really good years of service out of. It's been to the Bahamas and numerous other fishing locales in the past 30+ years I've had it. Today, it's plastic handle decided to break off on both ends as El Fisho Jr. and I were heading down the hill to the river's edge. El bummer.

Thank goodness it didn't open when it hit the ground and tumbled.
It wasn't loaded up too heavy, because hauling it back up that hill was much more full of effort than taking it down with the newly broken handle. As it was, we didn't need much out of the box and could have made do with a shoulder bag, but I wanted to have a variety of items that had proven successful in the past.

Today was one of those great days you remember forever.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


I have not bought any of these guns I'm writing about here, but I have seen some interesting guns lately that I've wanted to buy but didn't. Because I guess I share the taste of guns I'd like to have with many others, because the guns I see, unless way high priced, seem to move pretty fast from the inventory of several of my favorite gun shops.

For example, I've sorta been looking for a 1970's Mauser/Interarms 9mm Luger. I've seen lots on gun auction sites, but I'd like to review it in person before I buy it. I've just missed several at two local stores, despite me asking the owners to give me the heads up when they've got one in on a trade. I've seen some old way overpriced and totally beat WWII Lugers but I'd prefer to have one of the more recent and more affordable models. I've seen lots of "semi" NIB 1970's Mauser/Interarms Lugers going on various gun sales sites for in the $800-900 range.

Another gun I've seen lots of lately are various Colt 1903 and 1905 models. All except for one has been way too beat and rusted and then cleaned, and that good one was literally being sold to the buyer as I walked into the gun shop. I asked the owner why he hadn't told me about that gun, and he said he forgot. Like the 70's Interarms Luger, I'd asked him to be on the lookout for a Colt in nice or even decent condition.

I've seen lots and lots of Interarms/Walther PP's and PPK's in .32 and .380 calibers lately, but alas, none in .22 L.R. I've seen a few overpriced .22's on the web, and lots of decent priced ones, but again, I kinda like to look at a gun in my hand before I buy it. So the search goes on for a PPK, PP or PPK/S in .22 LR caliber. I often wonder why Smith and Wesson, being as how they own Walther, doesn't realize the sales potential of a .22 LR version of this venerable line of pistols. It's the same gun, with a few different parts. HOW HARD COULD THAT BE? Particularly when you could sell lots and lots of them.

Sportsman would love them for taking into the field. Many would buy the gun for home defense, and despite the many naysayers who bemoan the defensive use of a .22 LR, there are many folks who use the .22 LR for self and home defense. So there's a lot of sales as well if Smith and Wesson would just make it.

So until S&W comes to their senses and makes a .22 LR version of the PPK series of guns, I'll have to keep looking for a used one.

I have seen a few Peacemakers and other Colt SAA revolvers lately, but none that were in decent condition were reasonably priced. Even the beat guns were high priced. I'm looking again here for a 70's blued version with case colored frame and rubber grips with a 5" or so barrel. I enjoy the "four clicks" of the Colt over other SAA handguns, but I'll probably end up getting a Vaquero when I find a good deal on one. The Vaquero also boasts safety features the Colt does not have, i.e. Transfer Bar safety.

About a year ago I walked into a Cabela's and they had a Wildey in .44 Auto-Mag, which although that's not a caliber you're gonna find at Wal-mart, it can be found. It came with an extra barrel, the original case and I think three mags.

Many of the other calibers that Wildey's and the very cool Auto-mags are impossible to find now, but the .44 Auto-Mag is still produced. Instead of plopping down some cash immediately and putting that gun on layaway, I didn't do anything. Sometimes, I'm like George Castanza...I'm king of the idiots!

When I got home I googled around about the Wildey and the more I read the more I liked. Of course, by the time I called Cabela's the next day the gun was long gone from Cabela's by that time, having been quite reasonably priced in the $900's. Maybe one day I'll run into a decently priced Automag in .44 Automag caliber.

I've been looking for a used Marlin .410 lever action shotgun. I haven't even seen any that were new, although Cabela's has them I just have not seen them there. In younger years, I shot many a round through .410 shotguns, and although I moved through 20 and onto 12 by the time I was driving, after 40 some years of mostly shooting 12 gauges I've moved back to 20 and 410. One day I might try a 16 gauge. But except for self defense and rare practice situations that are done with 12 gauges, my sport shooting strictly involves 20's and .410's these days.

Another gun I wouldn't mind having is the .22 magnum version of the Automag II. As I mentioned before, I came across a pristine 9MM magnum Automag II while on spring break. Unfortunately, you can't find 9mm magnum ammo anywhere. It wasn't even plentiful during the heyday of it's brief life, and it's nowhere to be found now. So I'd like to run into a .22 mag version of that pistol. It's heavy but fun to shoot.

I did see a very nice and very expensive version of CZ's 7.62 x 39 bolt action rifle. I wish someone like Ruger would add one of these to their Model 77 lineup. Ideally, in a Gunsite model configuration that uses AK mags instead of some overpriced Ruger variety. That would be a cool plinker!


CCI Shotshells have been in my guns when I go afield for I don't know how many decades. Several decades. They come in many calibers, and common sense will tell you that a .45 Auto shotshell will do a better job on a snake with a tough constitution than will the .22 LR version. I've killed more than one big cottonmouth, copperhead and rattlesnake with the .22 LR versions over the years, so it's not ineffective. It's just that the bigger calibers have larger pellets, more of them and with more omph! 

I once even, literall shooting from the hip no less with a Walther PPK/S .22 LR pistol shooting the .22 LR version of the shotshell, knocked down a quail at about 7 feet. It was one of those once in a lifetime lucky shots that could never be repeated with 40 years of practice. We were walking on 120 acres that we owned in far northwestern Harris County that was full of quail. My father and I spent many a early morning stalking those grounds quail hunting over my youth.

I had just shot a snake that was running around in relatively cold weather. It was a copperhead and was of a pretty good size. Something must have awoken it from it's normal hibernation because it was not happy. I had CCI snakeshot loaded in the PPK/S, which by the way always handled the plastic tipped loads with ease, and took the snake out with about 4 shots. As I was circling the snake to get around it, with pistol still in hand, several quail rose from the cover I was walking through. I knocked the safety off the tilted the gun towards the moving bird and BLAMMO, the bird was down.

We collected the bird and stared at each other in amazement. My dad said something like that I was either a really, really great shot or that I got extremely lucky. I told him it was the latter, but of course secretly hoped it was the former.

CCI shotshells come in all kinds of calibers for semi-automatics and revolvers. I think they are invaluable when fishing or otherwise trapsing in the woods for handling snakes. With the larger caliber shotshells, you're almost getting .410 shotgun type power, albeit with many less pellets.

I've used shotshells in .22 LR, the .22 Magnum, the .38 Special, the 9mm, the .45 ACP, the .44 Special and the .45 Colt calibers.

In most guns, I load up three or four shotshells backed by some solid nose bullets for the rest of the cylinder or magazine. There was one time in deep East Texas in a swamp that three shotshell rounds from a .45 ACP Glock wouldn't stop an angry cottonmouth, and they were direct hits at and near the head. But it was a big snake, and that fourth round of military ball ammo to the head of the snake stopped the problem.

But mostly I have found the .38 Special shotshell to be able to take care of most snake problems, and if the shotshell won't take care of the snake then a decently placed shot from a .38 wadcutter will do the trick.

I wish that CCI or another ammo maker would make some shotshells in .380 or maybe even .32 ACP. Sometimes when it's REALLY hot here in Texas and you are fishing, the light weight gear gets the nod. The fishing vest gets exchanged for a lightweight lanyard. And what ever handgun I've got with me generally goes to one of the lighter weight ones.

It'd be nice to use my Kel-Tec P3AT .380 with some snake shot. I know El Fisho Jr. would like some .32 ACP snakeshot for his Ortgies. And Billy Ray would like some .32 ACP snakeshot for his 1903 Colt that belonged to his great-granddaddy and was passed down from father to son to him.

If someone makes snakeshot in either .380 or .32 ACP and I just haven't been able to find them, let me know about who they are. I suppose it would be possible to reload some shells or perhaps cut down some spent 9mm shotshells and reload those at a lower power for the .380 (also know as the 9mm Kurtz). But I don't reload, so that's the problem with that picture.

In any event, maybe I'll forward this post to CCI and see if they'd consider making some .380 shotshells. I've posted about wanting to use the P3AT as a fishing gun before, and I've had responses to that post from others so inclined.

A friend of mine was in our local gun store a few months ago. The unseasonably warm winter we've had here this past year in Texas fooled a lot of plants and animals. Trees were blooming in parts of the state as early as January, and that's just not right. Likewise, snakes seemed to stay out this year instead of hibernate. At my friend's family's longtime deer lease in the Texas Hill Country near Johnson City, the copperheads and rattlers were out in force.

My friend had come into the local gun store looking at buying a Taurus Public Defender for snake work when he was deer hunting. I asked him if he had tried the CCI shotshells in his .45 Glock, and he'd actually never seen shotshells. He'd heard of "rat shot" and thought that it just came in .22 LR, but he never really knew about shotshells in different calibers. And this is a 50-something year old man who has been hunting and fishing since he was a wee lad. He should have known about shotshells, and I was surprised that he had not ever heard of them.

Meanwhile, his face lit up when he realized he wouldn't have to spend $400 and something dollars on a Public Defender and instead could buy a box of .45 ACP shotshells and be done with it. Much to the LGS's owner's chagrin, I am sure. 

My friend was concerned about what damage the shotshells might do to his Glock. Both the gun shop owner and I heartily laughed. We both told him, nothing is gonna hurt that Glock and you can shoot those shotshells in any .45 ACP gun that can shoot modern ammo.

So another great thing about the shotshell is that you can get big bore shotshell performance for $12 or $15 bucks or whatever the price and not have to buy a new gun. We've all got our favorite field, fishing, hunting and hiking guns, and the great part is, unless you're shooting .32 or .380 guns, they've got a shotshell for you. So no matter whether you like to pack a revolver or semi-auto, there's likely a shotshell for you.

With a .45 or .44 shotshell, you're getting almost but not quite .410 shotgun shell performance at a close range shoot. Many folks look down on the .410 but for snakes and close range targets, I've done real well with it. I've seen deer taken with .410 slugs on several occasions, although I've never done it myself.

But I have done my fair share of snake shooting with both .410 shotguns, a Thompson-Contender and a variety of big bore handguns shooting shotshells, and although a shotgun can do a number on a snake, splitting even a large snake apart, it's not always handy or possible to carry a shotgun when fishing.

But having a handgun in .44 or .45 partially loaded with shotshells and part with semi-wadcutter or ball ammo, is the best insurance short of a shotgun a Texas fisherman can have against poisonous snakes.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Where I live in Texas, it gets hot and humid. And while some friends of mine visited Cleveland, Ohio a couple of weeks ago where it was snowing, this week in Texas marks the days where spring is mostly gone and summer is here.

As I write this, the temperature is in the low 90's. It ain't rained for a couple of weeks. Despite the lack of rain, it's humid as heck. Thick enough already to cut it with a butter knife, as they say a little further east in East Texas.

And normally it's not that humid where I live until June. But it is now.

And the heat came in during the past few days. For the past several weeks, it's been mostly in the low 80's in the late afternoon, still tolerable by Texas standards. And just last weekend we were in the Hill Country of Texas where it was chilly enough in the morning that I regretted having short pants on at about 8 am when I was out and about with El Fisho Jr. Probably in the 40's somewheres.

But like it or not, summer is here already in April. I try to be an optimist about most things, and especially given the heat wave, drought and wildfires that Texas experienced last year, this early and hot and dry beginning to May does not portend well for the rest of the summer.

Hope springs eternal, however, and right now I wish I were emerged in cool waters with a nice frosty beer or cup of single malt in a cool, clear and springfed Texas Hill Country river or creek.

I'm already sweating doing mundane tasks like turning on the drip irrigation for the roses in the front flowerbeds. That does not bode well for the rest of the year. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


The Golden Palominos were a NYC rockband that I was REAL interested in during the mid-to-late-80's. I was in my twenties then, going to law school and playing in bands myself. 

I can't believe that I've had this blog as long as I have and have not written about The Golden Palominos and the many related spin-off bands and artists that hovered in it's vicinity during the 80's. They played on well past the time my interest waned in them. 

I didn't care much for their 1983 self-titled release, but in 1985 and 1986  their second and particularly third releases on Bill Laswell's CELLULOID record label were and still are greatly enjoyed by me.

After owning those two albums for 15 years, I stumbled upon a copy of their freshman release in a used record store in the 5 Points area of Columbia, South Carolina. After literally combing record and cd bins in LA and Houston and Dallas and Austin and New Orleans and not finding the first GP cd or album anywhere, I find it in South Carolina. Go figure.

I wouldn't have even thought about The GP's but I was reading an obit in the LA TIMES of former Flying Burrito Brother bassist and songwriter Chris Ethridge and at the bottom of the article there was a link to the obituary from 2007 of Sneaky Pete Kleinow, who not only was a very interesting person and virtuoso on the pedal steel guitar, but even Sneaky Pete appeared on a GP album. 

And that Sneaky Pete obit, of which I have no recollection, made me think of the Blast of Silence CD by the GP's, and the country flavor of some of the tunes on that CD. Which of course led to me asking myself, self, why haven't you posted about the GP's on your blog?

To which I have no response.

I possess an amazing amount of knowledge about bands and musicians ranging from the 30's to perhaps the early 1990's. I can remember minutia about all kinds of bands and musicians that I read in a music magazine nearly 40 years ago, but cannot recall what I ate for dinner on Monday two weeks ago.

There are lots of resources now for people to list information about bands like GP. Wiki, of course, has a good page on the GP's, but a more thorough development of their cd's and their extremely varied members would be great. It'd be nice to see a list of all of the folks who passed in and out of GP sessions over the years. There were so many guest artists over the years that it'd be a pretty good list of some amazing performers.

Back then, in those long ago and scary days  of P.I.E. (pre-internet existence), those days of ignorance and bliss, I'd hear about a band in some music magazine or in a copy of the Austin Chronicle, the LA Weekly and other such non-mainstream weekly newspapers. I don't recall where I heard of the GP's, but sometime in the mid-80's I took a trip to the old Infinite? Record store on lower Westheimer in Houston and found a copy of their first C.D. I got my first CD player (once again, in those pre-digitalized times) in the fall of 1986, and they had come out about a year before.

CD's were still hard to find and finding CD's from groups like The GP's was next to impossible. In Houston at that time, you had to go "inside the loop" (meaning the freeway that surrounds the inner portion of Houston, the 610 Loop) to find music like the GP's.

The GP's got no radio play in Houston, except probably some on the Rice University and the Pacifica radio stations, those at the low power "left end of the radio dial". None of my musician friends cared much for the GP's, and none of the folks I was in bands with over the next 20 years were interested in covering some GP songs. Or even A GP song. Just one.

But I nonetheless enjoy their CD's that I have, particularly Blast of Silence from 1986. It features some great singing by Syd Straw of some country rock originals THAT shoulda ended up on AOR radio. They'd have been hits, nee anthems, that would still echo in bars across the world.

Instead, they were indy stars. Meaning, not much if any money at all. Maybe they made something from the album releases, but we're not talking Guns and Roses money here.

In any event, the highly creative forces that came together for 1985's Visions of Excess and moreso for Blast of Silence create some great music on those two cd's. Blast of Silence would definately be on my desert island ipod.

I'll end part one with a great line sung by Syd Straw from Blast of Silence's DIAMOND...

A girl's best friend is a diamond, a man's best friend is a dog.


The good news is that after I wrote the post on Saturday about my good friend and cohort Billy Ray's father's health issues, the heart surgeons came in and disagreed with the assessment and dire outcome the cardiologists had foretold. Whereas the Cardios thought there could be no surgical intervention, and that he'd likely die on the table, the surgeon thought there were some surgical efforts that might remedy some of the main issues facing Doc.

The surgery took place yesterday, and Doc came through with flying colors. According to Billy Ray, Doc tolerated the surgical procedures well and although he faces a recovery, most of the dire predictions didn't come to pass. There's still bridges to cross and lots of recovery time, and he won't likely be as spry as he has been lately. Billy Ray's been comparing him to a Banty Rooster lately.

But he'll be in good shape all things considered and the docs are all talking years now instead of months.

Apparently, he's done so well post-op that he'll be returning home this weekend, facing lots of rehab and doctors visits and such but again, the cadre of Billy Ray family and friends have so much to be thankful for regarding what can only be considered a miracle.

So if you were able to do some praying for Dr. Billy Ray, I sincerely appreciate it. And I'd humbly ask that you continue your efforts if you would be so kind. The prayers are working!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Those of you who've read much of my blog know that Billy Ray, my good friend for over thirty years now, figures largely in the adventures of El Fisho Jr. and myself. Years ago, in the early days of our friendship, I got to spend a fair amount of time with Billy Ray's father, who is a retired medical doctor.

I have few regrets in my life, but ole' Doc, as I call him, is a pretty sharp fellow. Due to the distance between where we live, it hasn't been possible to see him much in the past 15 years or so. I've spoken with him by phone a handful of times over the years as well, and he's such a charming southern gentleman.

He's been more or less retired since his late 50's, but is sharp enough that he could still have been practicing medicine all these years had he chosen to. He's very knowledgeable in the stock market, and in making investments in general, and just the kind of fellow that increases your I.Q. every time you talk with him. Hell, just being in the same room with Doc probably gives me a 10 or more I.Q. point raise.

He's the kind of fellow you'd like to spend a few days at a lake or river fishing camp with. Doing some fishing and cooking but mostly talking about anything and everything. Sitting out in the middle of mother nature kind of dwarfs you and any personal accomplishments you as a human being have ever had. It humbles you, in fact, and often time the observations of nature by smart and well-balanced men and women of some life experience can humble you in the brilliance and simpleness of their observations.

Yeah, Doc's the kind of fellow I'd rather be at the fishing camp for a couple of days with rather than having him teach me investment strategies. I'd be well served by listening to the latter, but would more enjoy the former.

Doc and his wife and kids and grandkids just celebrated his 84th birthday last weekend up in Lubbock, Texas. I wasn't able to make it but know a good time was had by all. A couple of days ago, Doc experienced some chest pains. Having had a bypass a few years ago, and of course being an intelligent guy as well as a doctor, he knew it was time to see the experts.

His condition and prognosis are serious. Without going into the details, it's serious. We here at The Fishing Musician would greatly appreciate some prayers for The Doc, Billy Ray and his family as his recovery begins and future surgical decisions have to be made. I know the Billy Ray clan would greatly appreciate it. They're good, God fearing people, and I believe in the power of prayer.

My thanks in advance to all who are so inclined.


Levon Helm was a drummer who didn't come to my attention, in terms of shaping my sound, until I had already been playing drums for 15 years and was in my mid-twenties. Sure, I had heard the hits of THE BAND hundreds of times on the radio, and listened to several of their albums before this moment of awareness occurred, but I had never recognized the subtle genius of the drumming of Levon. Like the late Al Jackson, it wasn't so much WHAT Levon played, it was HOW it was played and almost as importantly, what notes Levon didn't play. It was the spaces he left between what he played that made the sound so soulful.

By the time I was in my early 20's, I began down a road that would shape the rest of my drumming life, up to this point. Before that journey, I was a "busy" drummer. I listened to all kinds of music, and in the early years of college I continued with orchestral and jazz band music. But on my own time, it was harder rock or r&b that had my fancy.

But then I met an LA bluesman who played guitar and who had recently moved back to Houston. I played with him off and on for many years thereafter. Back in my mid-twenties, he played me songs by drummers he liked and of course one of those was Levon. The Weight , Cripple Creek and Dixie in particular. Over and over.

And so that started me on the road to "less is more", and Levon was a master of that method on the drums. Ever since then, I've stolen licks and attempted to steal licks from many other similar drummers, ranging from the classics like Al Jackson to more contemporary drummers like Abe Laboriel, Jr. I've amassed quite a collection of the studio work

Levon was known for many things. He even worked on offshore rigs for a couple of years before heading back to THE BAND and Woodstock. An actor, a masterful singer, a multi-instrumentalist, a family man, a long term cancer survivor, a businessman running his Midnight Ramble, and so much more.

Lately, his singing had been of great interest to me. I tend to go on listening jags that can last for weeks or months or even several years, where I listen to repeated catalogs and specific songs of certain artists. There are always more than one artist involved in this rotation, and often times music of several genres.

None of these genres that I listen to are of recent vintage.

For example, for the past few months, I've been listening to The Last Waltz, Guns and Roses Appetite for Destruction, the more or less complete works of The Mahavishnu Orchestra, and some Dean Martin favorites. Yeah, there's other songs thrown in there, and the frequent youtube video of one band or another sent to me by a friend, but by and large I often study, if not be compulsive, in listening to certain songs to figure out something. 

I've been trying to learn The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, by arranging a guitar part. It's a hard song to do justice to with this solo guitar arrangement, but the lyrics and structure of the original are brilliant.  As a southern man directly descended from Civil War veterans, I wonder if that's how they felt at the time? It's a bleak portrait of the changes in one man's family and life, yet it resonates with anyone who has had a loss because of a war, and in this case, North or South.

Levon's vocals on Dixie are stirring, moving, full of emotion and excellently delivered. There is no one else who can sing that song with the intensity and identification that Levon did. Levon WAS Virgil Cain(e) and he was storytelling about his life.

I hope that Levon's family and friends find comfort in the things that he taught strangers like me about drumming. It's always horrible to lose a loved one, particularly to any form of cancer, and my prayers are with Levon's people for peace.

Monday, April 16, 2012


Go on over to Wild Ed's Texas Outdoors, because he's got an excellent post on fishing on a small creek near his house about 25 to 30 miles north of Austin.


I have fished this very creek on several occasions, going back to the 70's, in several locales. As well as other creeks nearby to it. The also nearby twin forks of the San Gabriel river are always a joy to fish as well.

Once upon a time, entirely too many years ago, I went to a year of college in Austin. In addition to the thriving early 80's blues scene going on in Austin at the time, the fishing around Austin was really great as well. Still is, but just not as close in as it used to be, unless you like carp and gar.

Nothing against carp fishermen, but I'd rather fight a sunfish on a 2 lb test line and a whippy fairy wand of a rod or on a tiny fly rod than a huge carp. I liken catching a carp to dragging a log through the water, or at least the ones I've accidently caught over the years.

Back nearly 30 years ago, I had me a prime fishing spot to the northwest of Austin. It was a good sized year round creek that was springfed, meaning it was reasonably cool even in the heat of summer. There was a huge low water crossing and county park area adjacent to the crossing, providing plenty of bank area to fish on and easy access for a canoe or kayak or even just wade fishing. It was a uniquely designed low water crossing, comprised of gently sloping concrete that went for 100 feet or so on either side of the road. Plenty of room for fishing a variety of areas all around the small, mostly unused county park and the crossing.

Every now and then, mostly on a Saturday, there'd be a few families or teen groups that would come out to the creek to go swimming and do some beer drinking and BBQ'ing and they were always realy friendly. It was sorta their town "go to" outdoors spot.

Another interesting feature of the crossing was that holes the shape of hot tub like structures had been made somehow in the side of the crossing next to the water. The water, at normal depth, would flow through the indentations and the holes themselves were the perfect size for what would normally be a hot tub, except the water here was spring fed and thus cool. The flowing water through the holes kept them free of vegetation and they were nice to sit in on a hot day.

I kept on fishing that spot for years after moving back to Houston. Back in those days, I pretty much kept a full set of fishing gear in my car to be ready for any roadside fishing opportunity that presented itself.

The posting over at Wild Ed's reminded me of the good times I had at that creek, which is probably a good 30 or 40 miles from the area Wild Ed is fishing in. I used to enjoy wading down the gravel bar that ran for quite a ways, either above water or barely submerged, that enabled you to walk the middle of the creek fishing to either bank.

Like many Central Texas/Hill Country creeks it's size, it held small largemouth bass, some guadalupe bass, channel/blue/yellow catfish and lots of different kinds of sunfish. An ultralight and fly fisherman's paradise, it was my friends.

I'm going out next weekend and do some driving in the Hill Country and see if I can stumble upon a good fishing hole at a low water crossing. I've had pretty good luck at it over the years, and the wife is tolerent of my fishing expeditions and of me keeping some gear at the ready in the back of the SUV.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


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The Umco Possum Belly Tackle box, as shown above, is a monster, the monster of tackle boxes if you're of my generation. Other than tackle box cabinets meant to be installed in boats, to my knowledge there is none bigger than the Umco Possum Belly.

I'm interested in one of these large Possum Belly boxes in great shape for a fair price. Likewise, I'm interested in smaller Umco boxes in green and other colors (not the bare aluminum ones).

I'm also interested in finding some great shape Old Pal tackle boxes.

I own several other Umco tackle boxes of differing sizes. The one I got from my Grandpa is my go to river/creek fishing box. It has the 2 trays that covers about 3/4th's of the inner box, leaving just enough room in a side compartment for a fishing reel of moderate size like the Mitchell 300 and any of the Ambassador series reels or Abu-Matic spincasting reels. It will even hold a medium sized saltwater levelwind reel like a Penn.

It is even possible to easily put two reels, if one of them is a fly reel, in the reel compartment, leaving the tray and under the tray area for other conventional tackle. Lures in the trays and live bait gear in the bottom, along with a couple of pair of pliers, a knife, some kind of Kit Gun (usually a S&W Model 317 Kit Gun with a 3" barrel) and a hook remover and maybe a stringer. Maybe a flask of some Jack Daniels or any number of other different whiskeys. But some the Gentleman Jack is one of my favorites and plenty good enough for me.

Products like Umco used to make are much missed by me, as are the Old Pal and Rebel tackle boxes of days of yore, along with a few other brands. There's not much variation in the tackle boxes out now, and I'm glad I've hung onto and taken care of the tackle boxes I got from grandpa as well as those I bought from the late 1960's to the 1980's.

I enjoy my Old Pal tackle boxes as well, and have a hankering to find a few more of that brand in decent condition.

I lamented before, more than once, how cool it used to be to walk into a K-Mart store or Gibson's Discount Center and buy great tackle and guns. They had good guns for decent prices and lots of great fishing tackle. Wal-Mart at one time, oh so many years ago when Sam was alive and running the show, used to have a fair amount of guns in every store and a fairly good selection of fishing items, far more than the stores feature today.

Gibson's Discount Center stores not only had the good stuff that the K-Marts in Houston had, like the standard Garcia and Penn product lines, but also had lots of Lew's fishing gear and other great rods and reels. I remember almost buying a Stoeger Luger (glad I didn't) and a Llama .22 mini-1911 clone(wish I had have bought that one!) at an East Texas Gibson's. The East Texas Gibson's stores had an amazing selection of rods, reels, lures and terminal tackle, with even some higher quality stuff than what K-mart carried.  We didn't have a Gibson's in Houston, the closest one was in Conroe, and once or twice a year we'd venture up to that store or any other of a number of other ones throughout East Texas. We'd be visiting kin all over East and Central Texas and Gibson's was always a great place to go for sporting goods.

K-Mart had their own line of fishing tackle, and I still have several K-Mart fly reels in use. I just gave Billy Ray a new-in-the-box unused  K Mart fly reel, black and white, to match up with one of his Grandpa's bamboo fly rods that needs a cool reel.

Likewise, I remember in my youth up to my mid-teens that Sears and Wards used to have some pretty decent fishing tackle departments as well. I bought lots of stuff at both locations, and the Ted Williams line at Sears was a great line of rods and reels.

Even Target stores, once upon a time, had fishing tackle in their sporting goods department. Nothing generally to get excited about, but it was nice when they did have something you could look at when the wife was shopping.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


That's the theme for the past week in the Austin area. The worst of times for sure, for many reasons.

A fine young police officer was slain in the line of duty, and that's the worst of times. For everyone: the public, who won't have Officer Jaime Padron's service anymore; His friends and co-workers on the Austin Police Department and in associated law enforcement agencies; and of course, his family and close friends.

It was the best of some of the worst times, when thousands of regular citizens who never personally knew Officer Jaime Padron turned out for his funeral and lining the route taken by the motorcade. It heartens me when citizens show their appreciation to a fallen hero like Officer Padron. They showed him "respect".

We don't see a lot of respect for law enforcement officers enough these days. I recall one highlight of my policing career came at a church early on a Sunday morning. I was working a free extra job, meaning, as a donation, for no pay, directing traffic from the busy street it was on and stopping traffic for pedestrians who parked nearby and walked a few blocks to the church.

An elderly lady slowly made her way across the four lane boulevard, and as she passed me, she smiled at me. She took a few more steps and stopped and turned around and said "Young man. Thank you so much for being a police officer and protecting us.".

It meant a lot, and still profoundly affects me. I have no idea who this woman was or what her story was but she delivered some mighty uplifting words to me as a very young officer. As I recall, those words really came at a time that I needed to hear them. And they have stayed with me all of these years.

And it saddens me that Officer Padron will not reach the stage of his career and life where he looks back on some younger days exploits and (mis)adventures as I've been able to do. I plan on doing lots more in life, but I've had a rich and diverse life with a ton of highly interesting life circumstances and situations.  His family will have his rich memories forever but the loss is so unfair for them.

Unless you've been a police officer, or are a close friend or family member of one, you probably don't understand the level of kinship and brotherhood that is felt not only within a single law enforcement agency, but throughout many agencies.  Being a cop is a tough job. I describe the job of police officer, as have others before me and more famous than I, by saying it is long boring periods of tedious paperwork and other adminstrative tasks punctuated by intense, rapidly changing and highly charged situations ranging from armed robberies to murders to sexual assault offenses to burlaries and thefts and just a whole slew of other dangerous situations to be inserting yourself into.

You rely on your partner for your very life. Your fellow officers likewise. Being an officer in the first place is a level of commitment that few are willing to make. Few answer the call, and those few are our protectors. As a Houston Police Department ad used to say in the 1980's..."The Badge Means You Care."

So when an officer falls in the line of duty, killed by another for some insufficient reason, whether that reason is real or imagined, we've lost a part of that thin blue line that guards civilization from anarchy. We've lost the person obviously, and he's undoubted mourned and missed by hundreds if not thousands of his actual acquantances, but he was one of the few, the proud, the brave who are willing to stand up to darkness and evil in many forms and say "NO MORE!"

Here's the link to the story of the best of the worst times, the funeral procession of the late Officer Jaime Padron  By that phrasing I mean no disrespect to Officer Padron or his survivors, but mean it only to express the pride that thousands of fellow citizens showed up to show their respect.

It gives me some hope in humanity in this sad time.

Rest in Peace, Officer Jaime Padron.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Our next place, as I mentioned in the preceeding posting, will be in the country on a small amount of land. Big enough to fish on and big enough to shoot on. There are things I've learned through home ownership and through watching others do certain things in the building of their homes that I think are worth considering for your own home.

1. A water well. If your property doesn't have a spring of reasonably pure quality, which is not uncommon in some parts of Texas, then a water well is a nice addition.  You can keep your garden or yard and trees alive if severe drought and rationing conditions occur.

If you live in a windy area, it's not impossible to build a few of your own windmills to run the pumps to bring up water from a water well. Many small tanks for watering livestock have windmills that do all or part of the water pumping to keep water in the tank.

2. A cover over the home. A steel cover, anchored with real girders for a secure almost pavilion like metal cover over the house. I'll put a link to Rimrock Ranch out in California here later, but it's common in some parts of Texas to build a covering over your home  to shield it from the sun. The theory being, and apparently it's true, that having the cover over your home and a three or four foot airspace between them not only pretty much extends the life of your budget roof to "forever" and keeps the home at decent temperatures without the extremes.

For example, the Rimrock Ranch, in or near Death Valley, California, mostly stays a nice 70 degrees year round. I see it as a way to keep AC costs down and heating costs down. Plus, having lived through the drought/heat wave that Texas experienced for over 100 days last summer, I value the value of the concept of shade.

The use of an overhang roof, if you will, extends beyond shading the home and keeping it near a constant temperature. I would want to extend it in at least one direction to create an outdoor shaded pavilion. Some place where you could BBQ during a rainstorm or heatwave without being beaten over the head with the elements of the weather.

3. Solar power and rain catchment system(s). By the positioning of the exterior metal roof that covers the home, the high impact and low cost solar panels on the market now would be a perfect way to make some electricity. Likewise, the metal outer roof serves as the perfect rain catchment center.

I like the idea of my cistern being some feet off of the ground. The urban farmers that live across the street that have a rain catchment system on their home for their gardening needs have an after the fact setup. Their water tanks are on the ground. I like the idea and looks of a metal or at least metal covered plastic tank being a few feet in the air on a platform. It gives great gravity feed to the water.

4. If a creek runs through the property, some sort of water wheel would be cool to experiment with. I'm pretty sure there are different laws about messing with creeks and messing with rivers. It'd be interesting to see what kind of juice a water wheel would generate.

As mentioned above, if the property has a lot of wind coming through it, some windmills might be nice power generators. It would be nice to be able to have some low cost power generation methods to either substitute or mitigate the high cost of electrical power these days. I've seen articles for more-or-less do it yourself windmill construction, but would probably hire my handyman friend to do it for me as he'd do a better job.  In the olden days of my youth, lots of folks in all parts of Texas had small windmills pumping water from a line or a well for a cattle tank located far from electricity and even from the wells next to their homes.

Likewise with water. A water catchment system could be purified for drinking purposes if necessary, but the preferred use for me would be for watering a garden. I'd like a greenhouse for growing edible vegetables and having a greenhouse means critters can't eat your produce because it's locked away.  Having a water catchment system would provide a nice traditional or hydroponic garden environment with fresh rainwater. 

Several of my friends have properties with live springs that produce a fair amount of fresh water. The key is devising a catchment system that doesn't harm or impede the flow of the spring but that allows you to pump water to a purification station and ultimately into the home.

5. I don't rule out the idea of a solar water heating setup. We had that for nearly 10 years in our last home, and when it worked it worked well. I think the equipment and technology has advanced greatly but like with many things of this nature, proper design is the key. Ours was an after the fact install, and the piping and such could have been done better. Another good idea and a lot less trouble and maintenance would be an on demand hot water heater.

6. Other ideas I'd like to explore are having wood burning stoves to heat the large rooms of the house during really cold weather and I'd like to check are in-the-floor heating systems.

7. Not knowing what the future may be, and I'll stress I'm not a "prepper", all kinds of terrible things could happen in this nation that could impede the delivery of food, power, water, etc and cause any level of social breakdown from minimal to horrible. It'd be nice to have a generator system and wood heating abilities and alternate sources of water and electricity at your home, in addition to the storage of a supply of food, in case any of the above are ever affected.

8. A greenhouse is a certainty at our country abode. Maybe more than one, or at least one large one. There are many foods we have grown in the garden only to have them stolen by critters before harvest time because we can only limit access  so much at our current house. I suppose we could fence the garden off with mesh fencing but raccoons and possums and squirrels are quite industrious at getting past certain things like fencing. I would like to grow a wide variety of tomatoes and other types of veggies, and would like to have a greenhouse to help me do so asorganically as possible and in such a way I could harvest them before the critters do.

I've worked and fed various animals over the years for friends and family who had them. Cattle, horses, pigs and hogs, goats, chickens and the odd mule or donkey or pony. I don't know if I care to have any animals other than dogs and cats on our place. Depending on what part of the state of Texas we end up finding a place to buy, and how big that place is, will be a big factor.

If we get a large enough place, it'd be nice to be able to run a few Longhorns on the place, maybe a few beef cattle. Maybe some buffalo. Whatever it is, if I'm still working a real job instead of being retired, I don't want to have to spend hours a day tending a herd. You have to spend some time daily on animals, but I don't want a permanent part-time job caring for animals in addition to the regular job.

If I were a lotto winner, I'd have a place with a game fence and herds of zebras and giraffes running everywhere.  One never knows what the future holds, and though I'm no farming or ranching genius, I'm glad I was exposed to it a lot in my youth at various family farms and ranches.

The wife has many ideas for our home as well, and I'm all for them. A Benihana style grille on one end of the kitchen island, and an indoor grill at the other end. Two dishwashers. I'm all for anything she wants in the kitchen because she's a master cook and can make magical foods.

I'd like to have two large dryers and one large washer, so that the washing could be done in big loads. The less mowing and yard maintenance I can do, the better. I'm all for doing natural, ecologically sound yards like using buffalo grass instead of san augustine. In theory, I like the idea of having a garden all around your house as my urban gardner neighbors do, but they lose a lot of their produce and veggies to the same critters I do, fencing be damned. Not only are yards like I have now with san augustine grass bad for the environment in numerous ways, at this stage of my life I've wearied of mowing yards. A little tending is not bad but for someone who has been doing yardwork near constantly for 40 years, I've wearied of it.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Several years ago, we sold our longtime family place. It wasn't that far out of Houston, and was wooded and had a large year round creek flowing through the middle of it. We owned it for right at 40 years, and then it just had become such a shadow of it's former self that it was too sad to go around there. The area that it was located near had always been sorta white trashy and having more than it's statistical amount of parolees, but with the advent of crack cocaine in the mid-eighties and the resurgence of the meth epidemic that reared it's ugly head in Texas again in the late 90's and 2000's, it became a place where stuff got stolen and folks regularly trespassed looking to poach deer or for some kind of metal to steal and sell.

Back after we had the property for four years or so, we had some parolees who knew the family who owned the place before us, and one of them had been there numerous times as a kid with that family. A neighbor alerted us to the encampment on our property back then, and when the local sheriff's deputies and assorted other nearby smalltown lawmen raided the place at our request, they found the parolee commune was growing pot and had been stealing from local stores.

They never came back to bother us. But unfortunately, what was once a pristine East Texas creek, 12 feet deep or so in front of our land,  about 15 years ago became polluted with untreated sewage and other untreated waste water from the neighbors who'd moved in upstream in their mobile homes and pay by the month land ownership.

That plus these folks now saw our land as a great place to poach deer and hunt hogs. Although fenced and posted, that didn't deter our "good neighbors" from setting up feeding spots and clandestine deer blinds. 

About 20 years ago, the cabin got destroyed by one of those 100 year floods. We knew it would ultimately happen, and there was not way to move the cabin from it's locale near the creek without spending more money than the cabin was worth. But we got lots of good use out of it for 20 years or so, and it had been built there out of cedar back in the 1940's by an architect from Houston whose family place it was before we bought it.

Back in the unpolluted days of yore, all one need really do was perch yourself on a high spot overlooking the big creek around sunup or sundown, and sit a spell and you'd be likely to see all kinds of creatures coming to water themselves at various times of the night and day. Except for poisonous snakes and hogs, it didn't seem fair to nail the bobcats and raccoons and skunks and deer that came to water themselves when I'd stake out the creek.. Hogs have always been a problem at that place, and anytime you can shoot a hog in Texas is a good time to shoot a hog. Also, those hogs we've killed over the years have almost always (unless nasty looking or sick looking) gone to the butcher and are donated to the local food pantry.

Fishing then was great as well. There were channel cats, blue cats, yellow cats, skinny largemouth "river" bass, perch and crappie of various types and white bass. I never saw any of the gar that filled so many other rivers and creeks in those areas. We had a pier for about 20 years, and literally the sloping sandy beaches that filled the access points on our land made for great fly fishing spots. There was an island in the middle of the creek, usually accessible by crossing a low water rock walkway, also offered great fly fishing around the undercut banks that opposed the island.

So over several decades, although we had lots of good family and friend times there, shooting and fishing and just generally hanging out in the out of doors, the place just wasn't the same and certainly the neighbors were much worse.

So anyway, we finally parted ways with that property, which had some good value due to the old growth timber present on it and large deposits of pea gravel running through and around the sandy bottomed creek.

We've been looking around at different tracts in different parts of the state. Some reasonably priced, some not so reasonably priced. Mrs. El Fisho has, to her credit, found some affordable yet very cool tracts of land in some different parts of the state. Ideally, we'd like someplace 4 or 5 hours tops driving from where we live. That can be in a variety of directions, although we favor the part of the Hill Country/Central Texas where it crosses back and forth towards being West Texas-ey.

In any event, for Mrs. El Fisho, and also me, water is a must. Ideally, the property would have a pond and a creek. A spring or spring fed creek would be nice. Note that, as an inherent difficultly in locating land with a creek or river view is that usually gaining access to these properties often involves crossing one or more low water road crossings. Mrs. El Fisho is not down with low water crossings and will not consider buying a property where that is involved. Period. End of story on that issue.

I'm not crazy about low water crossings, or some of them anyway, but realize there is a price break in property values when the land is located on 'tother side of a low water crossing.

Different parts of Texas fared differently during the "drought of record" that we had in combination with something like over a 100 days of over 100 degrees. Rivers that had never run dry or had not run dry in many decades ran dry. Some have recovered somewhat with the recent heavy rains we've been having in my part of the state, but the rains need to keep on a'coming.

East Texas tends to have less water issues than Central Texas and the Hill Country. Nonetheless, there were some places in both locales where springfed creeks ran hardy and strong, perhaps not as prolific as in rainy years but plenty good to keep the fish and plants and cycle of nature going. I made it a point last year to check on the rains and flow rates (or going dry) of various rivers and lakes and creeks in the parts of the state that we'd consider buying a place near.

I found one very nice place, at a very reasonable price, with frontage on the Concho River outside of San Angelo, Texas and with a heavy flowing spring that ultimately flows into the Concho River. Unfortunately, the property had a deal pending on it when I found it and ultimately did sell per that deal. It was about 12 acres in a small community near San Angelo, which is just about the right size of town to have a place in the country.  It had a decent cabin/house with all amenities set up and going except the dreaded septic tank. Although city water was available, city sewage was not.
The house was way up on the highest part of the property, well out of the 100 year flood plane areas around the river. So you stood a better than fair chance of not having your house flood during a raging flood, although the hundred year flood plane is kind of a fluid (pun intended) concept. Floods have been known to exceed any prior flood and to do so greatly and tragically.  So anytime you live near live water, be it the beach or the bay or a river or creek, nature might decide they want to take your land back for awhile.

Beach property is insanely overpriced, and although the inherent risk of your beachfront property escheating to the State is a very real possibility after a hurricane in Texas, I'd still risk a small lot down in Port Aransas if I could afford it. Once again, if I knew then what I know now, I'd have taken every penny I earned and bought cheap lots in Port A a few decades ago. Bay houses are also cool, and generally the bottom floor is the game room and garage because of the flooding during hurricanes issue. Usually the water doesn't make it up to the second floor, and it's SOP to have the living quarters upstairs.

But the reality of the past few hurricanes and tropical storms that hit Texas destroyed all four of the places we seriously considered buying some 15 years ago. Beach houses in Matagorda, Port Aransas and Galveston blew down and away as if they had never been there. 

So we've been looking inland this time. We'd like to find a place where we'd ultimately retire to as our next family place. San Angelo would be a damn decent place to be retired near to. Lots of medical services and amenities and even educational opportunities or a part time college professor gig for El Fisho in his retirement, likewise for Ms. El Fisho.

So San Angelo is not the be all, end all of places we'd like to end up retiring to, but you could do so much worse. So much of rural Texas is plagued not by armed robberies but by thieves who strike your car when you're out fishing somewhere nice. So many folks who live in rural Texas these days become victims of copper wire thieves as well as just regular meth head home burglers.  So it helps to know the social problems and crime problems that affect any area where you're considering buying a rural place.

Of course, in a perfect world, we'll find a place between 10 and 20 acres, some cleared and most wooded. It'll have some running water, and although I'm totally into small river and big creek fishing on a regular basis, I also would like to have my own pond/lake of an acre or two. As I mentioned, it's not unheard of to have several springs on properties that have live water coming through them, and a nice pure spring would be great for not only filling a lake but also diverting to a purification systems for water for the house.

Having a spring fed lake would enable you, in the right circumstances, to stock trout that might last near year round. Certainly, small mouth bass could last year round in such a small lake if springfed.

So we're looking around using all the ways we know how to. Local newspapers that are online. The various for sale by owner and real estate agent listings, ebay, craigslist and others.

We're flexible about a structure, if any. We'd prefer to have some kind of functional dwelling there, even a mobile home or travel trailer.  We plan to build our own house, and if in Central Texas or the Hill Country, it will be a rock home. We've come across a few tracts that have burned out rock shells of homes, just add plumbing, electricity, a roof, some windows and doors, flooring, but the shell of the home is already there.

Again, we're flexible. I'm hopeful of a big enough tract with enough springs and an existing pond or lake. To me, any pond over 2 acres is a lake. I'd like to have enough land to expand that pond or lake (also called a tank, as in a tank for cattle to water at) with a sort of canal system.

When I was growing up, there was a place nearby that had a huge lake, probably about 3 acres, that had a huge canal system that resembled a creek that ran out of one end of the lake and meandered around over the acreage and then joined back up at  the other end of the lake.

We got permission to fish and shoot there, as the owner wasn't running cattle on it anymore. We fished that lake and canal for years and years. We had nice fishing spots at several points on the canal, and built seats and even a fish house and pier at one part of a big lagoon in the middle of the canal length.

Another thing I'd like to have is a small boat house or pier house with a pier extending into the lake.  One of my redneck friends who lives in East Texas found it too expensive to have a large pier and pier house built on his exisiting lake, so he built a small pier and bought a used barge/houseboat affair and put a 5 h.p. motor on it and a bunch of trolling motors and batteries. He's got about a 2 acre lake, and just takes the houseboat all round the lake, fishing and swimming and such.

I know another fellow who father gave him an old sailboat they had, a Hunter 22 or 25 as I recall. It had a marine head, a nice small galley and had a small outboard and even an air conditioner on top of the cabin. My friend ended up putting that boat in his 1 acre or so lake, as sort of a houseboat. He couldn't sail it on that lake, but it made a nice fishing spot and place you could spend the night on the water. It was powered by some ancient tiny outboard I believe was called the Mighty Mite.

It was a pretty cool setup. You could sleep six comfortably in that sailboat, with two in the bow compartment, two on the converted dining table, bed, and one berth on each side of the aft or the boat, underneath the crew compartment above.

In my youth, when lucky enough to spend the night on the boats of friends, it was nice to sleep on one of the crew compartment bench seats in nice weather. Throw your sleeping bag on the padded seat and sleep away. You were down in the compartment so there was no way a wave in Galveston Bay would knock you out of the boat whilst snoozing.

With a sailboat, when the main sail is furled around the boom, you can stretch a canopy across the top, which provides shade and rain protection. Likewise, on top of that canopy, you can have roll down sides as well as mosquito netting if those critters are around. I thought it was a pretty neat setup. It was his man cave on his East Texas lake.

Anyway, those are some of the possibles for the future place. I'll keep you posted on the search.


If you are making the rounds at your local gun store(s) and your eye catches one of these holsters for sale in the used holster bin, please let me know about it.

I'm looking for a few used Bianchi paddle holsters, the kind from the 70's through the 90's that had a suede leather covered metal paddle and a thumbreak.

                       -I need one for a N frame 4" barrel,

                       -I need one for a Glock 19 (or 17, etc)

                       -I need one for a .357 Python or Model 66 2 1/2"

                       -I need one for a 6" 357 Python

I'd also like a nice upside down shoulder holster for a Colt Detective Special/Cobra 2".

I could also use three suede IWB Bianchi holster 1911's, a 3", a 4" and a 5" with the suede "ear" on the inner side of the holster that cushion the hammer from the wearer's body.

A good source for a repro flap holster for a Browning Hi Power at a reasonable price.

Also, I'm going to buy some cowboy rigs soon, and plan to get one for the 6" Python as well! Any recommendations as far as new and used would be welcome. We have a host of holster makers just in Texas, and I've done business with a half dozen or so as well that are outside of Texas. I've also found nice used custom holsters on ebay and other auction sites.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012


All three of the above pictures are from The top photo is the Broomhandle Mauser. The second pistol is an Interarms Mauser Luger. The bottom picture is Stoeger's take on their .22 version of the Luger.

Well, in this age where almost every cool gun is being made into a .22 version, I wish one of the makers would realize the market for a .22 that looked like a broomhandled Mauser. There have been previous attempts by Stoeger and Erma, and probably others, to make a decent .22 luger. I've shot several of the Stoeger versions, and both had a propensity to jam. A LOT.

But if you are so inclined, either now or in the near future, you can by any number of .22 1911's that range from crappy to very cool. You can get a .22 that looks like an HK submachinegun with a fake barrel extension/suppressor. Smith and Wesson and Colt/Umarex and many others are making  .22 versions of the venerable AR-15 or M4 or whatever the designation is these days in numerous configurations.

Of course, for many decades you've been able to buy multiple .22 versions of the Single Action Colt Peacemaker and the Winchester lever action rifle. And more brands and models come out every year.

If you like, you can get a AK-47 in .22 and a Beretta M9 (or whatever it's called) in .22 as well. ISSC has version of .22's that look like Glock pistols as well as a copy of the FN Scar rifle. Very soon, the Umarex Uzi rifle and pistol will be for sale at your local dealers. If you wanna play like  you're Steve McQueen doing his bounty hunter thing, you can get the Henry Mare's Leg for a very reasonable price, under three smackers.

So where, I say, is the decent Luger copy chambered in .22? As I mentioned, the Stoegers that I shot did not impress me enough to buy one of the guns, although they were a bit largish for a Luger copy. I've never seen any Erma's in person, and I could be wrong about whether they had a toggle or not, but it seems like they fell short in some way of really resembling a Luger.

Surely, with the space age metals and plastics currently being used in the firearms industry, some really talented R&D folks could design a great copy of the Luger that would reliably fire the .22 cartridge. I've handled and even shot a few real lugers, and ever since I saw that deeply blued Interarms Mauser 9mm Luger in the early seventies at the Post Oak branch of Oshman Sporting Goods in Houston, Texas, literally in the shadow of the Galleria. It was the seventies, and my dad was thinking seriously about buying that pistol. Back then, Interarms imported Walther and Mauser Lugers and they had some nice ones in stock at that store. My dad ended up not buying that pistol, but I recall it's excellent construction and overall good feel

Although I've shot a few Lugers, I've never owned one, but would like to. And I'd really rather have a very nice .22 version that shined like that Interarms Mauser I saw that day in the 1970's. Although out of the centerfire pistol ammo catagories, the 9mm is probably the cheapest to shoot by far, it'd be nice to be able to shoot a Luger A LOT with some real cheap ammo, like the good ole' .22.

Likewise, since childhood, I've been fascinated with the Broomhandle Mauser pistol. I had a biography of Winston Churchill as a young man,  and the cover photo on the book (not W.C. but a model), was shown as a late teen holding a broomhandle Mauser. Over the years, I've seen a few at gun shows and at places like Collector's Firearms in Houston, but I've never had the chance to shoot one. If I could find one in a halfway decent caliber for a halfway decent price, I'd snatch it up.

But nonetheless, it would be another great historical gun to make into a .22. Or even better, chamber it for some real interesting calibers. How about the 5.7 x 28? Or maybe even some larger calibers, and the skies really the limit here because the magazine goes in front of the shooting hand, so you're not limited in size as in a grip magazine gun.

A Mauser Broomhandle replica pistol shooting 5.7 x 28 or perhaps the 5.45 x 39mm would be extremely cool. Just think. A double stack mag on a Broomhandle in a very decent caliber. BAM!

And the list of .22 imitations goes on and on...

Monday, April 2, 2012


I recently saw the movie JOHN CARTER and thought it was great. I still think it was a great movie, regardless of what the critics and box office receipts say. The fact that the book it was based on was written 100 years ago makes it even more interesting of a movie. I'm not  a big sci-fi guy.  I did enjoy the MATRIX franchise and look forward to some more movies in that line.

I remember when, one day back in 1984 being drug by old friend Billy Ray, more or less against my will, to see the movie DUNE. We had been hanging out in Galveston for the day and unfortunately for me, when we drove past the long gone Galvez Mall, which had some movie theaters, Billy Ray saw that this movie was showing.

As I recall, there wasn't much fishing action, and by mid-day we had eaten well but found ourselves with nothing to do. So it was drive home or see the movie. The big selling point for me was that Sting was in the movie. I figured it couldn't be that bad. Sting was at the top of his musical game and I was hopeful he wouldn't be involved with a crap movie. I know this movie and book has legions of fans but I'm not one of them, as I found out during the very long showing of this movie.

But there are a few sci-fi sequels that I've been looking forward to.

Speaking of the Matrix, there have been strong rumors since January of 2011 that a Matrix 4 and 5 will one day soon appear. There's a ton of news releases from back then from no less than Keanu Reeves talking about the new movies.

Meanwhile, a more certain sequel is RIDDICK III, slated per the internets at being released in August of this year. I enjoyed both RIDDICK movies and if any of what I've read on the internets is true about the plotlines, it should be a decent movie.

There's also going to be a new installment in the BOURNE franchise, called THE BOURNE LEGACY. It does not have Matt Damon in it (I suppose he is too busy doing his political things) but does have an apparent able bodied replacement with the theme "We didn't just make one of them", which is something you already know if you've watched the previous Bourne flicks. In any event, I looked at the IMDB page for this movie and it does have some of the evil CIA support cast from the other flicks, so there will be some continuity. Not unlike the Bond flicks when Bond or M changed, the concept should be enough to make a decent movie.

Along with JOHN CARTER, I also recently saw KILLER ELITE. Great flick, and based on a novel by a former SAS man, so there's lots of good detail in the book and the movie.

Yeah, I bought the decades old book, now retitled Killer Elite and enjoyed it. I also bought a collection of John Carter stories that I'm about to start reading. You know the books are always better than the screenplays. If you look at a movie as basically being 50 or 60 two to three minutes scenes strung together, there's only so much detail you can put in those small sections.

I'm also about to read Abraham Lincoln the Vampire Killer. Should be an interesting read.

I used to read a lot of serious titles. Then I went to law school. Law school and the ensueing years of law practice (and reading, as a trial lawyer, mountains of documents and tons of case law) largely ruint me for pleasure reading. Also, dealing with hardcore crime and criminality renders me uninterested in reading or watching anything in the genres that revolve around what I do for a living.

My wife likes all of these rogue private detective novels as well as hardcore crime books by the likes of Elmore Leonard. Yet she usually doesn't care to hear the details of any of my more sensational cases. I guess it's easier to take if you think it could be fiction.

In my twenties and thirties, I read lots of books about current political events around the globe, various intelligence agencies and their operatives and operations and other related topics.

That bores me now. The stories change but the people in real life just don't learn from past mistakes. I'd much rather read regular history books, going back hundreds and thousands of years, than read about the current meanderings of the fools that are running this planet.

One current events author that I've enjoyed since my teens is none other than P.J. O'Rourke. The wife and I, back in dating days, were happily surprised to find we both had this hilarious author on our reading lists. We got to get some books signed by him at a book store appearance several years ago and it was nice seeing him.

I started reading him when he wrote and for a short time, edited the classic National Lampoon Magazine in the 1970's. My high school journalism teacher thought that the magazine was crap, and she didn't much care for the National Lampoon Radio Hour recordings I would bring to class to listen to in the darkroom when I was developing and printing 35mm pictures for the yearbook and newspaper.

He went on to write for auto magazines and to a great career as an author, writing smartass commentary books that really hit home with me and most of my friends. If I've got a favorite living author, it's P.J.

So what's been added to your bookshelf lately?


You read that header right. Savage is now making the Model 42 (clever, eh?), which is a combination rifle/shotgun. Chambered in either .22LR/.410 or .22WMR/.410, it's a lightweight combination gun. I don't know how I missed this in the SHOT show 2012 product information I read on various websites but this weekend I was reading a care package of recent magazines that a friend gives me and stumbled across an article about what's new product-wise in FIN-FUR-GAME magazine or something like that. I quickly jumped on the computer because the article didn't even mention what calibers would be offered in this new gun, and was mildly disappointed to see that there was no centerfire cartridge/.20 gauge version in the immediate future for this gun.

Here's some links to websites talking about the gun, and you can also go to the Savage website and look under new products to read their specs about it:




It's a lightweight gun for a combo gun, especially if you recall the Savage combo guns of days gone by that were built on a 12 gauge frame (they were, in a word, El Heavy). Still, one can only hope that this gun will sell well enough with a MSRP of under $500 that Savage will do like Ruger and introduce a whole slew of new models in the coming future.

HERE'S WHAT WOULD BE COOL, SAVAGE: Build some various centerfire/.20 gauge combo guns, but make available extra barrel sets for those of us who like combo guns. Some good centerfire cartridges to start with would be the .223, 7.62 x 39, .243, .270, .308 and 30.06, all matched with a lighter weight frame capable of shooting 3" 20 gauge shells. Heck, icing on the cake would be a double barreled interchangeable 20 gauge barrel, or an interchangeable double rifle barrel in some or all of the above calibers.

I, for one, would pay more than $600 for a combo gun that had interchangeable barrels available.