Highlights from Recent Reading

from Confessions of an Un-Common Attorney, by Reginal L. Hine (1947)

There is another advantage enjoyed by the private citizen. He belongs to himself. When the little man in the little city looks out upon the huge and thoughtful night, fame loses its allure; he has no envy of counsellors or kings. his tributes as first, second, or third citizen must be paid: ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.’ But when that has been accomplished he is freer than most men to follow his own whim, to taste the delights of human tranquility, to cultivate the muses, to make innumerable friends. That way, even in the brief hour-glass of one mans’ life, much happiness can lie; there may be no sandstorms, but there will be many golden grains of blessed gaiety, some fireside ease, cool spaces of leisure sitting at peace in ‘the middest of one’s books.’

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Ut olim flagitiis, sic nunc legibus laboramus—as in times past we were sicke of offences, so now are we of lawes.’

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On a shelf in that same cupboard, deep in dust, reposed the draft Bill introduced into the House of Commons in 1770, forbidding any woman ‘to impose upon, seduce, or betray into Matrimony any of His Majesty’s subjects by means of scent, paints, cosmetic washes, artificial teeth, Spanish wool, iron stays, hoops, high-heeled shoes, or bolstered hips.’ Any marriage so contrived was to be null and void.

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Consider the extraordinary surnames that are to be met with in parish records, especially in the Puritan period. Here are a few taken from parishes in the Hitchin region: Ankle, Balaam, Bawcock, Breeding, Childermass, Chuck, Coalblack, Collop, Damosell, Ditch, Drawsword, eaw, Evilthrift, Freelove, Fogg, Funeral, Giggle, Grave, Guzzle, Hadduck, Huzzy, Indeed, Morespeed, Mouse, Outlaw, Pipkin, Pitchfork, Pretious, Rapier, Sacbut, Scurfy, Sex, Silverside, Sipsap, Slimehead, Slow, Sorry, Thickpenny, Topcoat, Triplet, Tuppeny, Typtoe, Wedlock.

Keeping good things to the last, let me set down a short list of names in combination—all from my own county—where both the Christian and the surname are outlandish, Old and New Testamentish or grotesque: Gabriel Angell, Abednego Atkins, Giver Battell, Ghost Butteridge, Paternell Bunne, Lamentation Caudle, Plampin Cooley, Matthew Divine, Radulphus Doffer, Adam Eve, Youthful Eyres, King Fisher, Obsingoldsbey Humblebee, Repentance Peacock, Susannah Sparrow, Zilpher spittle, Lazarus Stops, Greediana Tarboy, Tobias Trim, Adored Tuffnail, Wigmore Wiskin.

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Here is the classic example of circumstantial evidence. A witness in a railway case at Fort Worth was asked to tell in his own words just how Holy, a mate of his, came by his death.

He said: ‘Well, ‘Ole and me was walking down the track and I ‘eard a whistle and I got off the track, and the train went by, and I got back on the track. I didn’t see “Ole, but I walked along, and pretty soon I saw ‘Ole’s ‘at, then I walked on and saw one of ‘Ole’s legs. After that I seen one of ‘Ole’s arms and then another leg; and then another leg; and then, over on one side, I seen ‘Ole’s ‘ead, and I says to meself: “My Gawd, somethin’ muster ‘appened to “ole.‘”

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‘He that hath a great nose,’ saith the proverb, ‘thinks everybody is speaking of it.’

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Once upon a time Bernard Shaw posted a play of his, just published, to Sir John Squire, and inscribed it in the usual manner “with the author’s compliments.” Squire read it, kept it awhile out of respect for the donor, then sold it. by a curious coincidence Shaw lit upon this very copy in a second-hand bookseller’s shop in the Charing Cross Road, bought it, and returned it to Squire with the added inscription: “To Sir John Squire, with the Author’s renewed compliments.'”

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There was no medical reason, in his opinion, why she should not attain three figures, and when I saw her for last time, in her ninety-fourth year, I insisted that she should set herself to become a centenarian. ‘I doubt if it would be wise,’ she said, ‘there are risks involved.’

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Loveland Pass and Pizza

On Saturday we went in search of adventure. We drove the chaos of I-70 west of Denver to Loveland and then cut up to Loveland Pass. It was crowded. We grabbed one of the last parking spaces along the road over the Continental Divide. But the space was large enough to absorb the people. 

We hiked up the Divide to a crest—maybe a mile round-trip and enjoyed the view and the wildflowers.

We stayed up top for maybe an hour and a half. I kept my eyes open for White-tailed Ptarmigan, which are often seen there—and were seen there on this very day—but not by me. We did spot a marmot.

We headed back the way we came and pulled of to explore Georgetown. We wandered around downtown and stopped in a couple stores. They have a Christmas market that is supposedly worth coming to see if one likes that sort of thing.

We were going to eat a late lunch/early supper at Smokin’ Yards BBQ in Idaho Springs, but the traffic in town was a parking lot and the line at the restaurant was out the door. Instead we headed to Englewood, south of Denver, to Paxti’s Pizza. (It’s pronounced Pah-cheese.) They claim to serve Chicago-style deep dish, and it was a noble effort. The crust was good, but not buttery like the best Chicago style, and the servings of mushrooms and pepperonis on the pizza were sparse. But the sauce was fresh and tasty and it satisfied our craving.

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Pi

On Wednesday evenings, the local cinema shows “classic” films. Sally and I headed over to see The Princess Bride on the big screen—always fun. We then tried a new (for us) restaurant, the 3.14 Sweet and Savory Pi Bar. That has to be one of the worst names for a restaurant in the history of forever.

It was a more upscale place than we expected. Our pot pies were pricey but tasty. Mine had ground beef and blue cheese with Cajun spices. They rotate their pies, so not everything on the menu is available every night.

The servings were filling, so we got our key lime pie to go. It was also very good. We’ll be back. On our way home, we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

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Bird #495 — Hammond’s Flycatcher

empidonax hammondii

Sunday, June 3, 2018 — 8:32 am

Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Colorado

I wrote a post recently on the difficulty of identifying Dusky and Hammond’s Flycatchers, both members of the Empidonax genus. But I still needed a Hammond’s on my life list, as well as a Cordilleran Flycatcher, another member of the genus. Both of them, and Dusky Flycatchers, have been reported this weekend from Cheyenne Mountain State Park, south of town, so I decided to try my luck.

I was hiking the Blackmer Loop through a stand of ponderosa pine with a thick understory of scrub oak.

I heard a song that I was pretty sure was a Hammond’s Flycatcher. I played the song on my phone and still thought it sounded like a Hammond’s. I played the song louder. Immediately, the bird flew through the woods toward me and landed on a bare scrub oak branch above the trail about 10 feet away. Before I got a photo, it flew into a ponderosa. This time it stuck around long enough for me to get a picture. It was obviously reacting to the song.

It flew back across the trail and disappeared. I continued along the trail, which wound up the hill, then curved above the area where I’d seen the bird. I heard the song again and spotted the flycatcher perched on the very top of a ponderosa near where I’d seen it.

I walked back down to try to get a better look. While I watched, it flew from the pine into the dead branches of a nearby scrub oak and began singing again.

I don’t know how I can be any more sure of the identification.

  1. A Hammond’s Flycatcher was seen here the day before.
  2. The bird I saw and heard sounded like the Hammond’s song on my birding app.
  3. The song of the bird I saw and heard fit the description of the Hammond’s song on my app—”seweep-tsurp-seep.”
  4. The bird I saw had a distinct vest on its breast, it’s primary extension seemed long, it’s narrow tail was notched, and it was overall grayish.
  5. Sibley says Hammond’s is “common in coniferous or mixed forests, usually perching high in tall trees. Generally chooses mature coniferous forest,” which is an exact description of the habitat where I saw the bird and of its behavior.
  6. When I played a Hammond’s song, the bird flew through the woods right toward me and landed on a branch about 10 feet away, then into a nearby pine, obviously responded to the recording.
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