FOWC with Fandango – Pancho & Lefty: The Range

Ride the range with Pancho and Lefty. Even though Lefty died in Dayton, Ohio, he had his time with Pancho in Mexico. Now that I’ve memorized the words, it all makes sense. For years, I could only figure out fragments until I discovered (duh) that the lyrics were printed in the cover pages of the CD (I also had it on vinyl, back in ye olden days).

“Pancho and Lefty” written by Townes Van Zandt, was recorded by Emmylou Harris for her 1977 album, “Luxury Liner,” released on Warner Bros and available on CD on Rhino.

“There are only two kinds of men in the world: those that are in love with Emmy Lou and those that haven’t met her yet.” — Willy Nelson.

Pancho & Lefty
Townes Van Zandt
Living on the road my friend
Was gonna keep you free and clean
Now you wear your skin like iron
Your breath’s as hard as kerosene
You weren’t your mama’s only boy
But her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye
And sank into your dreams
Pancho was a bandit boy
His horse was fast as polished steel
Wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel
Pancho met his match you know
On the deserts down in Mexico
Nobody heard his dying words
That’s the way it goes
All the Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him hang around
Out of kindness, I suppose
Lefty he can’t sing the blues
All night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down south
Ended up in Lefty’s mouth
The day they laid poor Pancho low
Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go
There ain’t nobody knows
All the Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him slip away
Out of kindness, I suppose
The poets tell how Pancho fell
Lefty’s livin’ in a cheap hotel
The desert’s quiet and Cleveland’s cold
So the story ends we’re told
Pancho needs your prayers it’s true,
But save a few for Lefty too
He just did what he had to do
Now he’s growing old
A few gray Federales say
They could have had him any day
They only let him go so wrong
Out of kindness, I suppose …

Songwriters: Townes van Zandt
Pancho & Lefty lyrics © Katie Belle Music, Will Van Zandt Publishing, Jtvz Music (T) 

I always thought this would have made a great movie.


A reader assured me that the warblers are not warblers because warblers have migrated south. But after a lot of staring at pictures, these ARE warblers. Also, they do not migrate. They used to migrate which is why I first was baffled as to why I was seeing warblers in the winter. As far as I knew, they should all have gone south by now.

It turns out that many birds have stopped migrating. One of the many reasons they have stopped migrating is because people like me feed them through the winter. Feeders allow them to stay put, so they don’t bother to migrate. And the weather is changing.


Why are these warblers? Probably Pine Warblers that permanently live along the coast including where we live. Further inland, some of them migrate, but many do not. The dark head, the sharp double white bar on the wings.

The Goldfinch doesn’t have that double bar. It has one strong bar and a second partial bar and the males have a black cap which NONE of my warblers have, at least none that I’ve photographed and by now, I’ve photographed a lot of them.

My friend Ron says he has flocks of these warblers all year round in his woods, too and he lives just about 60 miles west of here, near Amherst. There are some other birds that are similar, some of which may be other kinds of warblers (there are a bunch of them) or they might be Goldfinch.

More warblers that look just like the other warblers.

The birds are basically the same color, same size, fly in flocks, and live in the same region. And they are all “feeder” birds. But since none of the birds have shown a black cap, I can’t believe in all these birds I haven’t seen a single male American Goldfinch. Therefore, I have to assume these are non-breeding Pine Warblers.

This from the white wing bars, white necks, and dark (but not black) heads and bodies ranging from yellow (mostly around their heads) with mostly light yellow or beige bodies.

This one looks different. No black cap. More yellow than my other warblers. It doesn’t look as if he has that double-barred wing so this could be a “lady” Goldfinch — or a Yellow Warbler. The green on his tail feathers is, I think, a reflection of the green top of the feeder.

I had to buy a new copy of Peterson to get the updated information, by the way. My old book was from 1984 and many migratory patterns have dramatically changed. A few birds apparently don’t even live in this area anymore, but other birds that never lived here now do. Many common birds have become rare and some rare birds have become more common.

Migratory patterns have changed for many birds and quite recently. During the past ten years, the Canada geese stopped migrating. They used to fly south. I remember watching the vees of geese heading for the Chesapeake Bay. You don’t see that anymore.

Instead, they occupy the lawns of (are you ready?) office parks.

There’s no water there, though there are rivers everywhere in the area so I’m sure they can get to a river if they want. They appear to live on the land and eat whatever people leave around. Maybe when the summer comes, they fly to the rivers and catch fish.

The rest of the year, they march in straight lines around the office parks and you had best get out of their way when they have goslings. They are formidable when protecting their young.

Time and birds, they are a’changin’.


Fandango’s Provocative Question #11

Do you believe that terminally ill people should be allowed or encouraged to end their lives via physician-assisted suicide? If so, under any circumstances or should there be restrictions? If not, why not?

At last, a question into which I can sink my fangs!

On a personal level, I say yes, yes, and yes again. If I will put one of my dogs out of his or her misery, why should a human suffer the agony of a terminal illness when we wouldn’t do it to our pets? Other countries — I believe Holland is one — allows humans the right to end their lives in peace and dignity, but in this country, we are not. Nor in England, from whom much of our law comes.

Do I think anyone under any conditions should be allowed to end their life? Maybe not. But this is something that the medical community should seriously look at and come to some kind of resolution. Many doctors — privately — will help a dying person, especially one in a vegetative state, to die by simply not treating an illness. But it depends on the individual physician and his or her relationship to religion, faith, or whatever. And some simply won’t do something which might endanger their license.

My son promised to take me behind the shed and blow my head off if I got that bad.  But really, I’d rather be prepared — just in case. I don’t know how many times I’ve signed a paper saying “Please, just let me die!” — but each time I’m in the hospital, they ask me to sign again. For some reason, they can’t seem to remember what I said last time.

You know, before medicine made it possible for the terminally ill to linger on for sometimes years rather than dying quickly, people didn’t linger indefinitely with machines to make them breathe and tubes to provide nourishment. When an illness became that bad, we died. Like we were supposed to.

I’m in favor of that. At least allow us to die when we are ready to die. If nothing else, please — turn off the machinery.


Weekly Word Prompt: Compromise

Talk about things that have gone missing from the American — and for that matter, international — scene.

Compromise. The ability for both sides to give a little and get a little until finally, they reach a satisfactory mid-point and everyone is happy with the result. Or, at least, comfortable with the result. Or — sufficiently comfortable to not feel an overwhelming need to ruin the lives of hundreds of thousands of people to make a political point.

The parallels of what’s going on in the world today, with America functioning as “the leader of the pack,” with what was happening during the 1930s which led to the bloodbath of World War 2 are absolutely terrifying. Do we not remember how it went last time?

Are we so ignorant of even the most recent history to not recognize we are making the same mistakes — again. This time, though, instead of fighting the good fight, America is leading the bad fight. We are not the good guys this time around. Not even close.

Protesters rally in Federal Plaza against the partial government shutdown, Thursday afternoon, Jan. 10, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

I was sure we’d have come to our collective senses by now, but far from it. Because since our “leader” is such vicious, nationalist, self-centered, racist that he has given permission to the rest of the world to be the assholes they really want to be.

Strip away the manners and the traditions of hospitality and simple good manners? Underneath there is a vicious mean-spirited jerk waiting to come out and destroy his world.

What’s the answer? Is there an answer?

Another alternative to a failure to compromise — not our best choice, maybe?

I have no idea. I don’t think another world war is going to improve life, but that sure looks like where we are heading. That or a massive international depression that will take years from which to recover.

You can take your pick of the option you personally favor, but for myself, I favor photographing the birds at play and at the feeder.

Because anything else just depresses me.


Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Black and White

Black and white … well, that’s easy enough. I avoided the temptation to make all the pictures of birds, probably because all the pictures I’ve taken recently have been ice, snow, or birds.

Mostly … birds.

So I only made three bird photographs. The rest of the pictures are other things, including ice and snow because we have quite a bit of it right now.

Three hungry birds on a cold Tuesday afternoon

A well chilled Junco on the toad

Silhouettes – Palm trees in Phoenix

The funniest thing about this picture is that me and my friend Ben took the same identical picture. He was sure this was his until he realized that mine was taken with a camera on 180 dpi and his would have been 350 … yet they were identical in every detail. All I could think of was we stood in the same place and framed the picture the same way.

Snowy trees in my woods

Route 201 to Skowhegan, Maine

A black & white woodpecker in black and white


Across New England, the Blizzard from hell takes second place to the Patriots’ latest melodramatic postseason victory and relentless march in search of yet another Superbowl championship.

We are literally iced in but that won’t stop die-hard Pats’ fans in their quest for selfies and autographs with their favorite football players. Patriots’ fans, oblivious to the numbing cold are lined up outside numerous venues for a magical second with their heroes. A long second to secure a selfie and an autograph for posterity.

It raises questions about how far people will go for the celebrity snap or signature. What’s the intrinsic value of such possessions?  It varies from financial worth to bragging rights.

Selfies are part of our daily lives now. People documenting the magical and the mundane. There’s a narcissist air to selfies of people wolfing down their favorite food or bathroom mirror closeups to show you’re forever young. If you are compassionate, you will typically post a thumbs-up note of congratulations.

Which invites more such selfies.

But no signature!

That’s a part of our social media lives. The smallest moment gets big attention.

People have always wanted pics or autographs with celebrities. It’s their golden moment! As a kid, I yearned for such mementos with my favorite baseball players or movie stars. I really wanted a photo with Roy Rogers, the king of the Cowboys.

During my working years as a TV News reporter, I met many celebrities, socialized with a few but have very few autographs or pictures. I felt awkward about it.

Even when socializing with the cameras somewhere else, the conversations were relaxed, easy and I thought it would be rude to ask for the pic or autograph. Sometimes the celebs were pleasantly surprised. Robert Mitchum, with a sly grin, asked: “Dude, no pics or autographs?” I smiled, shaking my head and wondering why I just didn’t ask.

Garry with Tip O’Neill – without an autograph

I always thought the legends were more comfortable with my not asking for the snapshot “for my aging aunt who’s a big fan”.  It always sounded so lame and obvious. James Cagney, at his Martha’s Vineyard farm, proudly showed me autographed photos of his early Hollywood friends and peers. He clearly was very proud of the array and talked about his nervousness in approaching William S. Hart, Tom Mix and John Barrymore among other luminaries. I thought it was fine for Cagney because he was a legend. I was just a local TV News reporter.

My biggest regret might be not having asked John Wayne for a picture (1974 – before selfies) even though he was very cordial during our interview. I certainly acted like a fanboy that day, telling everyone – over and over – that John Wayne actually shook my hand.   Eyes rolled in the newsroom as I gushed about meeting “The Duke”.

His shirt says “Living Legend.” AND he gives autographs!

I’ve been retired almost 18 years now and people still stop me for pictures and autographs, usually apologizing for interrupting my grocery shopping. I’m always flattered even surprised, given the length of time I’ve been away from the spotlight. It always “makes my day” when someone says “Hey, I grew up watching you on TV. Would it be okay to take a picture if you don’t mind?” It’s so funny — and the joke is on me, I guess.

Garry getting ready to do his selfie and autograph at Imperial Motors

I was just thinking — who would I love a picture with now?  Most of my heroes are gone. A casual list of “Hey, would you mind if I took a picture with you?” would include Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Alfred Einstein, Robert Frost (I did an interview but again froze on the picture request), FDR, Eleanor Roosevelt, Vin Scully, Sidney Poitier, and Bette Davis — to name just a few.  Mr. Poitier is still around. I’ve met him once or twice. Maybe he would appreciate this longtime fan.

Garry and Harvey Leonard, famed meteorologist sharing old Dodger baseball memories – Almost as good as an autograph

There are so many “celeb stories” in my memory. I wish I’d had the nerve to ask for that pic.

Selfie?  No, I just looked in the mirror. No, no selfie.