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30 Oct

Seussian Ways That We Go Through Our Days

DAY 181, October 30, ALBERTA VILLAGE – Bisecting life into six-month chunks is easier said than done and requires some thinking and planning. Luck doesn’t hurt the cause (here, think weather, as in no progress-impeding snow). This is our last full day in the Yoop this year, we will soon BTB until spring begins to show down below and we’ll scurry back north to see the last of the snow. There is no great joy of anticipation in going “home.” We do look forward to family and friends and to a certain degree, the familiarity of our surrounds, but Jambe Longues and I have nomadic hearts and require a minimum of “stuff,” or even “space,” to sustain us. We lived at one time in 288 square feet for five years. It was enough to sustain who and what we are.

The great draw for us here is true solace, and a degree of solitude not possible in our other abode, that is, the ability to be alone together and mostly free of manmade reminders and fragments of civilization – you know, sirens, aircraft taking off and landing, train whistles at 0400, major thunder of traffic two miles north on I-94, kids in their cars with music loud enough to shatter dinosaur hearts, bicycles all over the walking routes, speeding by in silence and not a shred of courtesy, people walking all manner of dogs, the walkers seemingly scared shitless of any form of life encountered on such walks and with the attitude that every approaching dog and stranger is a potential attacker and so they greet you with shakes and evil-eyes and look ready to run on first hint of perceived threat, or city park rangers who ride the bike trails in toy trucks, seldom dismounting, seldom stopping to talk to path users and taxpayers.

We are Seussian in our outlook on life, as good a sensible and romantic philosophy as any put forth in formal belief systems.

Our choices seem to always rotate around the U.P. You see, we like being NEIGHBORS with bears, and moose, and skunks and wolves and all the rest, rather than having to look at such creatures rotting in cages or behind fences in yards stacking up year upon year of critter poo.

This year was our first in a tiny, semi college campus with 16 homes, 12 of which have year-round residents. Our house was built in 1938 using hemlock boards and you cannot hear gunshots in the front yard. It is not so insulated to keep the cold out, but the furnace roared all summer like a B-25 on takeoff roll and after a while you don’t hear it any more. For two of our six months we are surrounded by ecology and forestry juniors from Michigan Tech, going about their business. By junior year and majors declared, such kids are serious about their work and keep their noses to it. It is fun to be around young folks who relish their futures with uncut optimism. As it should be. The young lady next door is 22, finishing her masters, then going off to Peace Corps training and thence to Senegal. She is from a small town north of Grand Rapids and walks with a soldier’s purpose and a diplomat’s smile. I asked how her folks felt about her assignment. She said, “They’re not happy about it, but I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do.” Good for her good for us as a country with young women like her. I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do. Yay her, walking the talk.

Over the years we’ve come to think of these six-month sorties as “summers” and we’ve begun to name them for what seems the prevailing theme of that period, which can be a small but memorable thing. This, for example, was the Summer of Hummers, our first hummingbirds arriving Wednesday, May 21, 17 of the little devils and the next day another 110 and we began to count them day by day, mostly as we thought about it and the count kept climbing until it hit 32,520 with our last 11 visitors on Sunday, September 21. We even gave the birds a new name, “rudes” – a shortened version of Evinrudes because that’s pretty close to what they sound like with their own little motors running.

One of our first summers we came OTB and fished two rivers a day for 17 straight days in whatever weather God or whoever has those controls gave us. We faltered only one day when Lonnie grabbed me: “Heywood, we need one day to do laundry and catch our breath!” We stopped, caught our breath and resumed river hopping, catching all manner of trout and smallies and pike and perch etc. That was The Summer of Chasing Trout. Three summers ago was The Summer of Recovering From Breast Cancer.

Our main vehicle is a 2001 Ford Excursion, bought new. It is now 200,000+ years old and 15 in car model years, has had five windshields, killed a few deer, a pat and a pheasant and has too many dents and dings and metallic bruises to enumerate and the Old Ford continues to answer the “bell” when we turn the key. Our dogs, first His Majesty Shanahan, and now His Majesty Shaksper came to think of the Excursion (we call it The Green Streamer) as a second home or rolling kennel. When Shaksper is unnerved and annoyed by something (think vacuum cleaner, fireworks, smoke alarms) he makes a beeline for da truck. We are not unlike the dogs in our preferences, thought the old truck seems to befuddle many family and friends who seem to think such a thing is beyond folks of a certain age. How little they know of or expect from life!

We plan to return to Alberta Village (MTU’s Ford Campus and Forest) next spring and build on our explorations of his first year here.

The fact is that I was born with a gift most people don’t recognize as a gift and that is energy, that is, a smaller need for sleep than most folks. Energy is the gift that keeps on giving, if you’re smart enough to focus it and use it. I doubt there are many successful artists, artisans, or master craftsmen who achieve success without some modicum of energy-drive helping them maintain high speed over long periods of time.

Output and quality are certainly not synonymous, and though one measure of quality is determined by the maker’s value, the other part comes from those who partake as the consumer of the thing made. All we can do is control our end of that quality measure and in that regard this has been an amazingly productive summer, one that borders on unbelievable, when one commits it to paper. This summer: 40 new short stories; edited page proofs of one novel; wrote first draft of next novel. Made 20 drawings in color pencil and 40 cartoons in our summer journal. I rarely write short stories in winter. No idea why. To this point in the year I’ve read 246 books and most recently have been plowing through the Sjowall-Wahloo “Martin Beck” series of the 1960s-1970s. Wonderful crisp, economical writing. Six more to finish the series of ten when we get BBTB (Back Below The Bridge).  I’ve just recently submitted some poems for publication, always an iffy longshot deal and last spring I had a piece in GRAY’S SPORTING JOURNAL, a wonderful publication in a class all alone for beauty and quality of work published.

Even with an abundance of energy there never seems to be enough hours to do all we want to do. This summer I worked with wood artist Dave Stimac in his workshop to fashion my first dozen pieces of primitive natural art works made of agates and stones and ores and local maples (bird-eye, curly, etc) and black walnut. I also brought some blue beach up from the LP to Dave to experiment with and that it snow drying for future use. Lonnie has devised a new way of printing and is making direct prints from wildflowers and other plants and she is focused on learning all she can about lichen and trees and the food values of plants with the help of Kari Price, who used to teach about food and plants at Indiana University.

As for publishing life, that seems to be flourishing, though one must always be aware that this can change in an instant. MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN was published in hardback in September. This is the second Lute Bapcat mystery. The softcover of the 9th Grady Service Woods Cop story, KILLING A COLD ONE, came out in softcover also in September.

This spring will bring my second collection of short stories, HARDER GROUND, every story with a female protagonist.The tenth Grady Service will be out in hard cover next fall. BUCKULAR DYSTROPHY.  And also over the next year or so my earlier novels will be republished (TAXI DANCER, 1985), THE BERKUT (1987) and THE DOMINO CONSPIRACY (1992). My editor has also asked me to update my memoir COVERED WATERS to bring it from where it was in 2003 when it was published up to now.

Will be a point in the next few months when everything I’ve ever written will be in print with one publisher and I’m not so sure how often that happens.

2014 firearm deer season looms. I will be working with officers BTB and in my local area sown below. The experience and learning that takes place in ride along patrols contributes immensely to my grasping the internal life of game wardens and cops, how they think, etc.

As said earlier, Lonnie and I are Seussian in our shared outlook on life and I shall end today with a mix of his words and some new ones from me in his inimitable style:

Oh the things we can find when we don’t stay behind.

Today we shall behave as if this is the day we will be discovered.

Will we succeed, Yes we will indeed! Ninety eight and three quarters guaranteed.

See, from there to here and there to here there are fun things everywhere.

We shall step with care and great tact and try to remember life is a Great Balancing Act.

We’re on our own and know what we know, and we’re the ones who’ll decide where we go.

Frozen popcorn, that could be a new experience for her and me.

Or cooking dodos in a pan, add salt, and pepper with your hands. And be sure to stir the butter soon, but only please with a big wooden spoon.

This life we live comes guarantee-free, except we know we’ll all end up in eternity.

Before the end comes snicker-snack, we’ll keep on exploring the green out back and try our best to report back our track.

So get off your couch, get off your duffs, take your butts out into the rough. Open your eyes and your ears and let life bring you laughter and tears.

Remember this our friends and our fams, life is made mostly out of Spam  and even in the darkest night of your lowest low, down even deeper than you thought you could go, look outside your window and it could be that you will see a beautiful light with a heart-warming glow.

You need only you to make your dreams grow and when you think you know all there is to know and seen all you can see, and been all you can be, and done all the things others call deeds, remember then that Cheerios are God’s  donut seeds.

Over.

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In the darkest dark of your lowest low…

 

28 Oct

Random Shot for 28 Oct 14

Wood, moss, leaves and color, all aging together.

Wood, moss, leaves and color, all aging together.

28 Oct

Getting Ready For Winter

30 fellas from a Michigan Tech Fraternity came down to the Ford Campus Saturday and moved 30 cords of firewood from outside piles into nice stacks inside the maintenance center, which heats on wood and uses 25 cords a winter. They accomplished this in 3 hours. Kudos to the lads, Lonnie says. Photos show what 30 cords looks like, for those who don’t use that much from home. All this comes out of the managed Michigan Tech forests, which has the straightest maple in the state. Over.

Stack : Inside, south wall.

Stack : Inside, south wall.

Stack 1: Outside, north wall.

Stack 1: Outside, north wall.

Stack 2: Inside main maintenance shop and the pet cacti collection.

Stack 2: Inside main maintenance shop and the pet cacti collection.

Stack 3: Outside shed.

Stack 3: Outside shed.

28 Oct

Memories Are Made of this

DAY 170, October 28, 2014, ALBERTA — Tomorrow will be six months. The new wood art is all glued, needs only to be sprayed. Supposed to have snow sprinkles the next couple of days, but we shall see. Here are some photos from past deer seasons with my DNR pals. It’s almost time again for November Madness. Over.

Menominee County bear, killed in cornfield by some sort of farm machine.

Menominee County bear, killed in cornfield by some sort of farm machine.

The stuff one finds.

The stuff one finds.

Huh.

Huh.

Jeff Goss, all in a day's work, in Calhoun County.

Jeff Goss, all in a day’s work, in Calhoun County.

Sgt Troy Bahlau at powwow.

Sgt Troy Bahlau at powwow.

 

 

Common sympathy across the UP.

Common sympathy across the UP.

Illegal deer.

Mark Pomroy and Jason Wicklund with illegal deer.

Waiting for rescue.

Waiting for rescue.

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Uh, okay, I guess we DONT’ fit through here.

Illegal deer.

Illegal deer.

Salt lick

Salt lick

Rescue in the Keweenaw.

Rescue in the Keweenaw.

Mounted on front of an ORV

Mounted on front of an ORV

Acrophobic.

Acrophobic.

Mountainman.

Mountainman.

Mike Evink, cutting trail.

Mike Evink, cutting trail.

Too impatient to wait for help

Too impatient to wait for help

Fergie and his ticket book.

Fergie and his ticket book.

Ending a standoff with an armed man.

Ending a standoff with an armed man.

Daylight in Da Swamp

Daylight in Da Swamp

Checking sign.

Derek Miller Checking sign.

Mike Hammill, calling tags to Station Twenty

Mike Hammill, calling tags to Station Twenty

Rendevous with Terry Short and Marv Gerlach.

Rendevous with Terry Short and Marv Gerlach.

Okay,  maybe a TAD over 2 gallons.

Okay, maybe a TAD over 2 gallons.

400 plus pound bear from Houghton Co.

400 plus pound bear from Houghton Co.

Chase over, the checks begin.

Chase over, the checks begin.

25 Oct

Time Flying Here at the End

DAY 176, Saturday, October 25, 2014, ALBERTA, MI — Today was Tech’s volunteer day and students poured onto the Ford Campus and moved 30 full cords of heating wood from the campus grounds into the central shop area. Amazing what teamwork and a willing attitude can accomplish. Meanwhile I keep moving ahead with Buckular Dystrophy, now at somewhere between 70,000 and 90,000 words. Don’t know precisely because 30,00o words are typed and the rest is all handwritten so I have to guess. Won’t really know until I type it all in, which I’ll probably do in one big bolus rather than a chapter at a time, but we shall see. Point is, I’m deep into Act 3 of 5 and the story is rolling. I read new pages to Lon every morning over coffee. I’m up and writing 0400ish. She gets up around 7. I read and then I go back to writing, or to bed, depending on my energy. Working in the workshop with Dave as well and now have about half my stones glued into a huge chunk of 1 3/4 inch black walnut. Pure natural beauty, agates and and other stones and wood. Pictures of work in progress follow this, plus pic from our recent ramblings. Writing in morning, ramblings in the late morning, into afternoon. The schedule is loose, yet defined and it works nicely to be able to do all the things we want to do. Tomorrow will be little writing, a day of exploration on a four-wheeler into the hills, scouting for book locations and photos and hoping to bump a wolf, or moose, or bear along the way. We’ll be in some extremely prime country for such wild things, places few people have ever seen, or even know exist, the kinds of places that Grady Service and Limpy Allerdyce know inside and out. Should be a lot of fun. Will post photos if I think they’re up to snuff. Meanwhile here’s stuff from our past sorties and the woodworking. The project in process will be my last of this “summer” season. Yesterday in sixties, today in high 50s, tomorrow the same, these are our real days of Indian summer: Three, by definition, warm after the first hard freezes. We now have ice in the dog water every morning and earlier this week I stepped out with the dog at 0600 and a deer snorted at us from the wood line. Twice. We’ll miss this place and locale this summer, but not the snow they are soon to have in abundance. Enjoy the photos. Over.

The latest creation in wood. Note the CO badge in the center.  "I'm calling this, Hiding in the Rocks.

The latest creation in wood. Note the CO badge in the center. “I’m calling this, Hiding in the Rocks.

Tannin-stained trout water. Lots of oxygen in deep summer.

Tannin-stained trout water. Lots of oxygen in deep summer.

More trout water. One can't have enough of this, even visually.

More trout water. One can’t have enough of this, even visually.

Closeup of beauty often ignored. This is what Lonnie was really looking at, not the river.

Closeup of beauty often ignored. This is what Lonnie was really looking at, not the river.

She's liken her lichen.

She’s liken her lichen.

Rock River on humpback bridge on Old M-28

Rock River on humpback bridge on Old M-28

Old camp needs TLC

Old camp needs TLC

Rock River on humpback bridge on Old M-28

Rock River on humpback bridge on Old M-28

Trout water downstream.

Trout water downstream.

Trout water, upstream.

Trout water, upstream.

Male spruce grouse.

Male spruce grouse.

Pit stop.

Pit stop.

Shrooms for an artist's eye

Shrooms for an artist’s eye

Looking for moose, Drummond Lake Road, in the rain.

Looking for moose, Drummond Lake Road, in the rain.

When the bright colors go, the subtle colors reign and beauty stands firm.

When the bright colors go, the subtle colors reign and beauty stands firm.

Dead junco. Artists study such things to help them see what they are looking at.

Dead junco. Artists study such things to help them see what they are looking at.

Iron County courthouse, the most beautiful county seat in Michigan. Notice the  Crystal Falls Forest Park Trojan helmet on water tower on top the hill, where the team is often located in state high school football polls.

Iron County courthouse, the most beautiful county seat in Michigan. Notice the Crystal Falls Forest Park Trojan helmet on water tower on top the hill, where the team is often located in state high school football polls.

Generations Restaurant in Crystal Falls, where you can get beer, burgers AND bullets ,all in one stop. No joke., and the food is terrific.

Generations Restaurant in Crystal Falls, where you can get beer, burgers AND bullets ,all in one stop. No joke., and the food is terrific.

Lonnie and Sue Webster. No idea what caliber they're ordering.

Lonnie and Sue Webster. No idea what caliber they’re ordering.

Our favorite abandoned old homestead.

Our favorite abandoned old homestead.

Indian lake, iron County, Tammies smiling across the lake.

Indian lake, iron County, Tammies smiling across the lake.

These clouds signal a weather change.

These clouds signal a weather change.

Lonnie's cone flower print.

Lonnie’s cone flower print.

Lonnie's printing work -- an method she invented. This is called Night Lupines. and is now in the collection of Mike and Sue Webster.

Lonnie’s printing work — an method she invented. This is called Night Lupines. and is now in the collection of Mike and Sue Webster.

Heeding signs.

Heeding signs.

Looking north from Covington toward Lake Superior, which is a thousand or so feet lower than here.

Looking north from Covington toward Lake Superior, which is a thousand or so feet lower than here.

 

 

 

21 Oct

More Wood Art in Process

Days I write and BUCKULAR DYSTROPHY (WOODS COP #10) is growing steadily, approaching Act 3 of 5. At night I’ve been piddling with wood and agates again. Pix follow. More pix from ramblings later.

Nature's Bounty 9

Nature’s Bounty 9

Nature's Bounty 10

Nature’s Bounty 10

Nature's Bounty 11

Nature’s Bounty 11

18 Oct

Deerggerel Saturday Morning

Saturday morning, MSU vs Indiana later today, moving left to right on my radio dial with George Blaha and the “team.” This morning, I’m working on BUCKLAR DYSTROPHY, the tenth Woods Cop story, and  the whole focus on Grady Service and one very strange deer season where he runs into a series of people who are crazed by shooting big deer, most illegally. Hornophiles, if you will. In the thirties here, rain predicted, gray overcast, leaves coming off trees, perfect fall day.

Will start  the story off with a little deerggerel (think doggerel), and it organize it into five acts (rather than three parts) , a sop to my good pal Willy Boy Shakespeare, who is rumored (never proven) to have poached at least one deer in his spectacular life. I suspect he would have enjoyed these hinky-kinky extremist out-there outdoor folks.

 

Anthem of Secret Trophy Hunters

To tell a story such as this

Think how snakeys twist and hiss.

 

One must not shed a single deer

To shoot oneself a great big deer.

 

Do not be so namby pamby

And let yourself think of Bambi.

 

Count the point, inches and all

Your taxidermist can fix it for your wall.

 

Knocking own huge horned rack things

Need not be so very taxing.

 

Learn to hunt smarter with your brains

Not harder with your boots in snow and rain.

 

Get out there in the dark with a nice big light

Pretend you’re Army tough, and “own the night.”

 

Hope the game warden’s not around

When your trophy crashes to the ground.

 

Yes you’ve got a wall of mounts

They make animal lovers very and pout.

 

Tell them killing deer is in your blood,

Your dad’s, your uncle Frank’s and your best friend Bud.

 

He who kills the most big bucks

Can tell his pals that they all suck.

 

Hunting trophies is your LIFE,

It’s cost you a house, 3 kids, 2 dogs and a wife.

 

Best of all in the order of things

You do it alone, neither whisper nor sing.

 

You kill in the dark and all alone

And keep the work to yourself at home

 

The bottom line’s not bragging rights

Over that Let amateurs puff an fight.

 

For you bringing home those huge old deer

Is much, much better than a shot and a beer.

17 Oct

Mo Pix

Enjoy the natural beauty of Baraga County in the Land ATB (Above the Bridge):

Tamarack in gold.

Tamarack in gold.

Tammy too.

Tammy too.

Baraga Plains Road

Baraga Plains Road

BPR

BPR

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Mother nature clings to beauty even in the wake of a logging cutover.

Mother nature clings to beauty even in the wake of a logging cutover.

Here is where we scared four eagles of the ground.

Here is where we scared four eagles of the ground.

Stimac Mountain. We live at the base, across the road. Spectacular country in the way-back, but you don't get to see it from your car window. You have to get out and walk.

Stimac Mountain. We live at the base, across the road. Spectacular country in the way-back, but you don’t get to see it from your car window. You have to get out and walk.

Curves on Prison Camp Road

Curves on Prison Camp Road

One night after overcast all day the sun popped out and lit up the trees. One photo makes it look like a fire, but that's operator error, not the reality. Still, it was glorious to behold.

One night after overcast all day the sun popped out and lit up the trees. One photo makes it look like a fire, but that’s operator error, not the reality. Still, it was glorious to behold.

Fire in the sky, The Apocalypse Beckons!

Fire in the sky, The Apocalypse Beckons!

Truly random, nailed to a tree off a two-track.

Truly random, nailed to a tree off a two-track.

Old CO badge, dating to 1940s.

Old CO badge, dating to 1940s.

Old plexiglass sign used by Conservation Department personnel before the state actually issued equipment.

Old plexiglass sign used by Conservation Department personnel before the state actually issued equipment.

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17 Oct

Thinking About Re-Entry, BTB….

DAY 168, Friday, October 17, ALBERTA – Gas at $2.90/gal in Baraga yesterday at the Indian stations, about a quarter cheaper than stations in L’Anse. Be nice if it lasts, but it won’t, and so it goes. Two weeks left in our sojourn and then we’re back in Portage. Will be working with COs BTB this deer season and just this morning I heard federal meteorologists announcing that another polar vortex is unlikely this winter. Just last night we had a discussion around here. The “bad” winters of the past two years are the kinds of “normal” winters we had when I lived up here during high school, and again during my USAF hitch.  It will be what it will be. Yoopers have the right attitude about this: keep to your plans no matter the forecast and most of the time you can do what you want to do. Common sense at its best.

I continue to be perplexed by political debates and the pure venom people are spewing – on all sides. We are becoming a country of sad sacks with no sense of us.

Yesterday we came home on the Baraga Plains Road and kicked four eagles off the ground. Shaksper, of course, volunteered to investigate, but we pooped on his sniff sortie and  pressed on.

Making great progress   on the first draft of BUCKULAR DYSTROPHY and felt great until I looked for the 30,000 or so typed words I had and could not find them on my computer or on any flash drives. The ms. may be in the laptop. I hope so. This seems to happen with almost every book.

More importantly the weekly mail came today and with it an announcement by our doctor that he is retiring the first of the year and we need to find another  provider, — one who takes Medicare, which many don’t – and how does it work that you have to join Medicare, but nobody is required to service it. Oh well, will be what it will be. My doctor is Larry Don Troyer and he has been a blessing. He’s been in practice 39 years and we Heywoods have been on his patient rolls since the 1970. Will miss him beyond words, but we all get to retire if we’re lucky.  (Heard somewhere yesterday that writers get to retire one day before they die. That works for me.

What follows is a portfolio of pix  from the past couple of weeks.

 Enjoy. Over.

Spalted maple.

Spalted maple.

Safety in Numbers, Black Walnut

Safety in Numbers, Black Walnut

Volcanic art. Black Walnut

Volcanic art. Black Walnut

Earlier projects.. combos of natural wood and agates, etc.

Earlier projects.. combos of natural wood and agates, etc.

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13 Oct

Tiz the Season For Rutting

CO Dave Painter and PCO Mike Mansell, less than 10 miles from here, one week ago, middle of the day. The bull came within four feet of the driver’s window and circled the truck. First the animal came out of the bush in front of the truck. Eventually it went past and started for US 141 and the officers could hear vehicles coming, so Dave made his female moose-in-heat grunt (he’s never told me how he learned it) and the moose stopped and turned. When it started for the highway again, Mike blew the horn and stopped it. Then the traffic was past and the bull went on his way. This is how professionals handle moose contacts. Mansell is a rookie and this was his first moose, so he had a different view of the encounter than Dave. So it goes. You gotta love the Upper Peculiar! Over.

Then the animal circled the truck, finally pausing at PCO Mansell's door and window. (It left  breath fog on the glass, I am told)

Then the animal circled the truck, finally pausing at PCO Mansell’s door and window. (It left breath fog on the glass, I am told)

First the moose charged out of the popples to the front of the patrol truck.

First the moose charged out of the popples to the front of the patrol truck.

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