Treading Water

Finished a painting today that’s been sitting on my easel for six months. Now I feel like kicking back. All the little ghouls will be out tonight. Ironically I had to have a blood draw this morning, and my ghoul stunk of too much perfume and couldn’t find a vein and had to call in her back-up who found one instantly and got the whole deal done fast and painlessly. Will put the painting on the site when we get around to it. It’s a big jobby!

Polar air, I read recently, gets down to Michigan across Alberta about a month after it builds up and sits in the Arctic, so check the Weather Channel for stuff going on up that way if you want to know what will be coming long range.

Last week it was 22 degrees when God and I went salmon fishing and today the mercury hit 60 and is supposed to stay there for a few days. Indian Summer is a period of partly-to-mostly sunny warm and dry weather that follows the first frost of the season (not the first freeze). It can occur anytime from mid-September to very early November and should last at least three days. The term Indian summer is from French-American writer St.John de Croevecoeur who was living in rural NY in 1778. Seems to me like this is the real Indian Summer now. Funny, I remember patrolling with the DNR lads five or six years ago when it was in the 70s the whole time I was up there!


Don’t know about where you live, but Wooly bears are ooot and aboot, eh.. .See them every day on autumn walks. The rust and black wooly bear is actually the larva of the Isabella tiger moth and often called the wooly caterpillar or wooly worm — as fly fishermen we use an array of colors of wooly worms to attract trout from spring into fall. Folklore tells us the more rust color on the worm, the warmer the winter. The more black, the colder it will be. All black…yuck.


When we first moved to Portage in December, 1970, the nearest black squirrels were north of Augusta, about 15-18 miles northeast of us. Now black squirrels are all over my back yard. Could this be an example of one species displacing another? Not quite says a 2005 article in The Washington Post. According to a Smithsonian Institution researcher quoted in the article, the black squirrel is actually a melanistic subgroup of the gray squirrel. Scientists tell us that we are actually watching is not displacement of one species by another, but the spread of a gene within a single population, probably because of a slight evolutionary advantage conveyed by having a black coat. Them’s just plain ole gray squirrels out there, folks, in different packaging.

Speaking of black, most female bears are in hibernation by 15 October every year, or if not in hibernation (which for bears scientists tell us is not technically hibernation, but something akin to it) close to their den-sites and awaiting snow to cover their tracks. Back when I first started hunting in the 1950s in the U.P. you could take a bear or a deer on your bear license. Now, working with COs around the UP we see very few bears and rarely hear reports of them during the firearm season. What’s changed? Certainly not the bear population. We have an estimated 19,000 of them in the state, 90 percent of them in the UP, so the numbers are way up from the “old days.” In the late 60s I saw three different bruins during deer season and those were snowy snot-dangling cold deer seasons, not like some of the lukewarm ones of recent memory.

In the fall of 1962 (or maybe it was 1963) while deer hunting east of Trout Lake, I walked up on a Lynx beside a huge fir tree. When I heard it scream, I dropped my Winchester barrel-down into the mud and snow. And then later saw the animal and there was no doubt what it was. I still get a chill when I hear that scream! Then lynxes pretty much were said to disappear from the state, but a couple of years ago a trapper got one and guess where: almost exactly where I had seen mine more than 40 years ago.

Retired DNR biologist Jim Hammill, (who started his career as a CO, and whose son is now a CO) helped me immensely to understand the wolf situation in Michigan. One of the things he told me really stuck in my mind and that was that when wolves disappeared from Michigan, they were last seen in the Channing area and when wolves reappeared they came back in the exact same area. Jim said that it seems that genetically they seemed to know exactly where prey and food animals would be in good numbers and came back to that area. He said this was just one of the many things we don’t know about the fascinating animals. Jim really admired the animals. By the way, the DNR did not plant wolves. They came back on their own. And I continue to hear fools announcing that the DNR also planted coyotes, which are now out of control. Where do people come up with this stuff. The DNR never planted coyotes. Geez.

And while on the subject of reappearing animals, let me get up on my soapbox before you start spouting that the wolves have killed all the deer in the UP. Dude: They HAVEN’T. There are an estimated 500 wolves. Say each wolf eats 20 deer a year, that totals 1000 deer. At same time, vehicles are killing about 15-20,000 animals in the UP and hunters in the UP killed another 36,000 during firearm season. Add to this that an average winter kills 100,000 animals (and a severe winter can kill more than 200,000 animals; And winter 2007-2008 was a nasty sucker in most parts). So vehicles, hunters and winters account for 150,000 – 250,000 animals, but it is the 1,000 deer eaten by wolves that is extirpating the UP deer population? Dudes: Gimme a break.

A word to the wise and wolf-haters this fall. Don’t shoot wolves or COs will arrest your ass. And if any of you see any crappy outdoor behavior, bad or unsafe practices in the woods this fall, call the toll-free Rap line in Lansing. The number is on the front part of the site. When you call, give details: Who what when where why and how many and how often. Call when you see it, not a week later. If you want to remain anonymous, you can.

If you’re going deer hunting, and I hope you are, enjoy, take it easy, be safe, and know what you are looking at before you pull the trigger. And if you’re hunting below the bridge, don’t bait. Please. I don’t hunt any more but I eat venison with even more enjoyment than when I was young (because I do the cooking?). I probably won’t be back on line until late in November. Meanwhile, I’ll be with COs somewhere in the state and I hope if we come in contact, you’re following all the rules.

Happy Halloween. It’s sort of a bittersweet night. My mom, had she not passed away last May, would have hit 90 today. It’s a reminder that we get what we get and it’s a good idea to live every day like it will be your last.

Night Musings

I’m in that mode of going to bed early and getting up in middle of the night, in part because two manuscripts are now working in my head (to the tune of about 5000 words each, and each trying to take over my life) and partly because I’m trying to shift my body clock to nights in preparation for working with conservation officers next month.


Anyone see the Obamamercial on the networks last night? Seems like the Dems have so much money this time around they are searching for ways to spend it. The republicans were in same position last election. One begins to sense that elections are bought, not won on the contestation and competition of ideas among worthy potential leaders. Candidates now start running two years before the election and political war chests these days approximate the GMP of small countries. What the hell is wrong with us? In this country of the free market the $$ to be made from winning political office must be enormous to warrant such spending. If not, why is it happening?

In my days in the corporate world I remember a former president who charged $100,000 to do a speech, insisted on a private jet for transportation and played golf everywhere he went. A hundred grand for a speech that the man was not even writing himself? This was a couple of decades ago and the discovery left me, pardon the pun, speechless. Now I am thinking Dubya will go the same route, and no doubt the price will be a lot higher.

Something my mentor George Hough told me long long ago in journalism school was to beware when politicians and government officials take their flensing knives to our language. Last night I heard someone would share “specific details” of a plan for a “key battleground” state. Okay, isn’t a detail inherently and by definition, specific? And aren’t all battleground states, key? If not, why the hell are they called battlegrounds? Our language gets twisted and lazy, as do the thoughts and premises that drive the language.

Fox news advertises itself as “Fair and Balanced.” Excuse me: “balanced” is journolingo for fair – meaning both sides getting their say, but it is not something you advertise. It is something you practice as a news organization and what you actually do is the proof of whether you succeed or fail. I once learned the key distinction between advertising and public relations: Say you are interested in a particular lady. Advertising is where you tell her what you can offer. Public relations is where someone else tells her what you gave her and how good it was — think of third party endorsement. All of our electronic media of whatever political leaning or stripe now seem to have to advertise themselves, which is pitiful. And all of our media nowadays talk about spin with no clue that spin is not how news sources characterize a story, but how the journalists use that information.


For years I optimistically felt like the world’s media would move toward the US model : no paid news, balanced reporting, no predetermined political angle or prism though which the news was filtered for selective illumination. Boy was I was wrong. The world has not moved toward us. We have moved toward the basest of media models wherein our media are no different than those in developed countries – with their own predetermined political agendas. It sickens me.


Lately I’ve been reading various addresses given by Nobel lit-laureates: Faulkner, Steinbeck, Hemingway, etc.


One of the most interesting for me were remarks by British playwright Harold Pinter (2005), who began by talking about something he had written in 1958: “There are no distinctions between what is real and what is unreal, nor between what is true and what is false. A thing is not necessarily either true or false; it can be both true and false.”


In 2005 the playwright said he thought his assertions of nearly three decades before were still true and still applied to the exploration of reality through art. But he amended the statement: Germane for a writer, but not necessarily for a citizen, who must ask what is true or false and try to determine same.”


Pinter tells us truth in drama is forever elusive. “You never quite find it but the search for it is compulsive and the search is clearly what drives the endeavour. The search is your task. More often than not you stumble upon the truth in the dark, colliding with it or just plain glimpsing an image or a shape which seems to correspond to the truth, often without realising you have done so. But the real truth is that there never is any such thing as truth to be found in dramatic art. There are many. And these truths challenge each other, recoil from each other, reflect each other, ignore each other, tease each other, are blind to each other. Sometimes you feel you have the truth of a moment in your hand, then it slips through your fingers and is lost.”


Later Pinter tells us that “Characters must be allowed to breathe their own air… to give them the freedom to go which way they will.”


Finally Pinter says, germane to our election times, “Political language, as used by politicians does not venture into any of this territory since the majority of politicians, on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but in power and in the maintenance of that power. To maintain that power it is essential that people remain ignorance, that they live in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed.”


The playwright concludes: “When we look into a mirror we think the image that confronts us is accurate. But move a millimeter and the image changes. We are actually looking at a never-ending range of reflections. But sometimes the writer has to smash the mirror for it is on the other side of the mirror that the truth stares at us. I believe that despite the enormous odds, which exist, unflinching, unswerving, fierce intellectual determination, as citizens, to define the real truth of our lives and our societies is a crucial obligation which devolves upon us all. It is in fact mandatory.”


Nobel laureate Toni Morrison wrote in her speech: “Tongue suicide is not only the choice of children. It is common among the infantile heads of state and power merchants whose evacuated language leaves them with no access to what is left of their human instincts, for they speak only to those who obey, or in order to force obedience. “


She continued, “The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties, replacing them with menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represents the limits of knowledge: it limits knowledge.”

This point about politicians and language I heard from George Hough in 1961 at Michigan State.


John Steinbeck said in his address in 1962, “The ancient commission of the writer has not changed. He is charged with exposing our many grievous faults and failures, with dredging up to the light our dark and dangerous dreams for the purpose of improvement. Furthermore, the writer is delegated to declare and to celebrate man’s proven capacity for greatness of heart and spirit – for gallantry in defeat, for courage, compassion, and love. In the endless war against weakness and despair, these are the bright rally flags of hope and of emulation.


Our country feels like it is at a crossroad, which makes the election next week hugely important, even dramatic. Historically this has been said and felt before, so this election may not be a watershed event at all. But one thing is for sure. All the trends of the recent past are neither pretty nor encouraging. Okay, this middle-of-the-night rant and rave is complete. Over and out. Vote. Please.

Size and Stuff

Eight of 15 Upper Peninsula counties are larger in area than the state of Rhode Island, and Marquette County is only a hair smaller than the state of Delaware. Eight counties below the bridge have population densities below the most populated county in the U.P.

Rhode Island, which has less land area than 8 UP counties, has 31 environmental safety officers and Delaware has 48. The UP is larger in area than the combined Vermont (34 officers) and New Hampshire (37 officers). By comparison the entire UP has approximately 30-40 officers. In some wayi such figures are apples and oranges, but I find them interesting.

By comparison the county where my mom hails from in Mississippi has a population density of 25.4 and my birth county in New York state has 349.3.

I’m not sure any of this has any practical use, but sometimes when I’m looking for new water to fish one of the things I first look at is population density and then I go to the county maps to see how far certain streams might be away from population “centers.” Fewer people in a county and further from town can mean better fishing and mostly alone, which is for me how fishing ought to be — a mostly solitary pursuit. Interestingly trout water also carrying salmon and steelhead runs will tend to be crowded in spring and fall, but often, if you just want to fish the same water for trout or smallmouth in summer, you won’t find many anglers to compete with for space. It’s my impression that many Michigan fishers are focused on the big fish runs, but not the sheer joy of small trout in summer. Different strokes.

U.P. Counties by Area (sq miles)

[Comparitors: Delaware= 1935.56 sq mi/ Rhode Island = 1,033.93]

Marquette (1821.05)

Chippewa (1561.06)

Ontonagon (1311.53)

Schoolcraft (1178.11)

Iron (1166.36)

Delta (1170.03)

Gogebic (1101.86)

Menominee (1043.52)

Mackinac (1021.58)

Houghton (1011.72)

Alger (917.83)

Baraga (904)

Luce (903.08)

Dickinson (766.34)

Keeweenaw (540.98)

Population Density by UP County [persons-per-sq-mile, least populated to most]

United States = 79.6/sq. mi

Michigan = 175.0 sq.mi

Delaware = 401.0

Rhode Island = 1003.2

Keeweenaw (4.3)

Ontonagon (6.0)

Schoolcraft (7.6)

Luce (8.0)

Baraga (9.7)

Alger (10.7)

Mackinac (11.7)

Iron (11.3)

Gogebic (15.8)

Menomineee (24.3)

Chippewa (24.7)

Delta (32.9)

Marquette (35.5)

Houghton (35.6)

Dickinson (35.9)

Ten Largest Counties Below–The-Bridge (Sq Miles\ Population Densities)

Sanilac (963.80\46.2)

Oakland (872.51\ 1356.9)

Kent (856.17\ 671.0)

Huron (836.62\43.1)

Newaygo (832.37\ 56.9)

Tuscola (812.34\71.72)

Saginaw (808.93\259.5)

St. Clair (724.37\226.8)

Cheboygan (715.6\ 36.9)

Calhoun (708.72\ 194.6)

Washtenaw (709.94\454.8)

Presque Isle (660.07\ 21.8)

Wayne (614.15\ 3356.9)

BTB Counties with population densities lower than highest UP County \35.9

Oscoda (16.7)

Alcona (17.4)

Montmorency (18.8)

Lake (20.0)

Presque Isle (21.8)

Missaukee (24.4)

Crawford (25.6)

Kalkaska (29.5)

Cheboygan (36.9)

Fishing With God

It’s been a few years since I fished with God, but we figured it was time and I fetched him from his place at 0730 Wednesday morning and we drilled north in the darkness in the Green Streamer, dodging morning deer, and discussing politics and the state of the world and country.

It was a balmy 22 degrees with a wind from the east when we got to the Muskegon River and dismounted to scout for redds and Chinook (king) salmon.

It being so cold it took us a full hour for us to suit up, rig up and waddle down to the river. I had heard the river was low and loaded with fish: What we found was water higher than most Octobers, and not a lot of fish, in fact the fewest I’ve even seen in an October.

But G2 quickly picked up a couple of rainbows, 12 & 13 inches, feeding behind a pair of salmon. We had seen a redd across the river, but by the time we got to the river a boat was parked on it, one of nine boats that would anchor in the same exact place over the course of the day, and we saw only one fish hooked, that by the first boat there.

Chucking and Ducking with the old orange running line, but the fish refused to play
Chucking-and-ducking with the old orange running line, but the fish refused to play

We lunched on sandwiches, Italian roast bif with Vermont white cheddar and horseradish sauce, and honey ham with Pepper Jack cheese and jalapeno mustard. We also went through three thermoses of coffee and chatted about past memories and mutual friends and great moments.

God as Carnivore -- a little known fact....
God as carnivore -- a little known fact....

After chow G2 fished to a pair of fish near the bank, but couldn’t get them to play. (Thus reminding us that even God doesn’t bat 1.000.) As the day wore on, guides raced up and down the river with their clients and ridiculous 200-250 hp outboards, negligently slopping waves on a dozen wading fishermen—sad to say, not atypical behavior from certain guides on the Muskegon.

I really enjoyed watching the intensity with which G fishes: He recently turned 74, but still plows into the river like a 30-year-old and has absolute faith that every cast will be the one. Added to his intense style is a total lack of sense of direction — no inner GPS and none in his pack either. He gets temporarily disoriented on occasion and invariably picks the worst trails up from rivers.

One of the great parts of fall fishing is the color change. Combine leaves with colorful salmon egg flies and nymphs and you get a pretty lusty splash of color.

Looking for playmates. Unless you are intimately familiar with a river, operating without a boat is difficult. Harder to see fish and get to them. You have to spend a lot of time wading and looking for shadows flitting about.
Looking for playmates. Unless you are intimately familiar with a river, operating without a boat is difficult. Harder to see fish and get to them. You have to spend a lot of time wading and looking for shadows flitting about.
Nymphs in color...
Nymphs in color...
Egg Flies and Colored Leaves: the stuff of autumn
Egg Flies and Colored Leaves: the stuff of autumn
God in the Jungle
God in the Jungle


Lacking energy, I only waded into the river once, and heard and felt my wading staff humming from the heavy flow. Only then did I notice that i had somehow neglected to put split shot on my floating line and because I couldn’t do this in the water, I waded back to the bank and chose to sit and watch and enjoy the fall colors and be on the lookout for fish moving up. You don’t even have to attempt to fish, much less catch salmon to enjoy the river. I always marvel at the instincts of salmon for their once-in-a-lifetime whoopee-spawn experience, followed march-step by death, which we can assume, the timing of which no doubt lends a certain gravity and desperation to the situation. We walked a considerable distance at various points before selecting a place to fish. In all that walking we saw only two dead fish, which is way low for this time of year and that alone made me wonder what was going on.

We encountered quite a few deer on the way north at sunrise, lots of kingfishers jazzing and Jitterbugging across the river. And up in the oaks, a Pileated woodpecker was trying to pound a hole in a rotting tree. On the way home, four or five red tail hawks showed themselves, an entirely pleasant day, ignoring the morning’s start temperature.

We got back to God’s place in Kalamazoo before dark, had a quick beer with Mrs. God (Lovely Laurie) and Spadine (their dog), who licked me all over. Then home to Shanahan and Jambe Longue.

Today: a manuscript is calling my name.

Niboowin in the Air

Had a wonderful weekend, Saturday, talking to folks in Owosso and Durand and lots of color splashes here and there, though in some areas the process still hasn’t really started to go full force. For some reason my mind kept turning back to the significance of the splendid colors — sort of a last gasp of life as one season dies to make way for another, neeb-ing [summer] making way for dagwaging [fall]. Even with beauty of scenery overwhelming us along the way, one can’t escape the sense of niboowin (death) in the air. And, of course, given the other condition of this season, it seems we can’t escape politics anywhere in America. By the way, I am still getting at least one E-mail a day from the Obama campaign, and sometimes a brace of them. I momentarily wondered if the mysterious Green Paddler might know a way to actually communicate with the senator, but decided he was probably in a tree- stand with his bow and would not appreciate a visit from some old fart. The vehicle was at the bridge where we stopped to see if there might be migrating chinook salmon. There weren’t any salmon to see.

On sunday morning Jambe Longue announced in her rare stentorian voice, “I’m going fishing.” She wanted to put the flyrod to use one more time before winter and we drove out to Pretty Lake and spent a little over the hour frothing the water to no effect. Bass in fall will come up to shore on sunny days in huge numbers, when the air is around sixty. But as soon as temps drop or a low begins to push through, they head for deeper water. A friend at the lake said, “You shoulda been here last week.” Duh. But fishing isn’t catching and we had fun and got to see a couple of pileateds, which populate the local oak forest in astonishing numbers. Jambe Longue had one within a few feet of her for a long time. Naturally the camera was in the truck.

Tree of Gold
Tree of Gold
So-called low-hanging fruit of infinite color.

Departing Pretty Lake, we passed some local vineyards and we decided to stop and see what the photo opportunities were like. Even here among the grapes one could feel a passing, a foreboding of death. Grapes ready for harvest, but unattended, an abandoned bird’s nest nestled in the grapes, vines snaking around the grapes like something out of the end of Eden.

All this color and wonderful autumn scents all weekend, and this morning I learned that woodcarving wonder [5-time world carving champion] Ed Walicki passed away yesterday morning. Too damn young, too soon. Ed was one of those rare individuals who could take a piece of seemingly inanimate wood and give it life. Usually his mouthy parrot Simon wasn’t far away, even when Ed fished for trout on the Au Sable Holy Water. An Irish proverb says, “Work praises the man.” Indeed. You might want to visit for a first-hand view of astonishing examples of Ed’s art and work.

Hanging bounty
Hanging bounty
Politics as pervasive as air this time of year.
Politics as pervasive as air this time of year.
Grand River, eastern side of the Portland State game area, under a dying sun.
Grand River, eastern side of the Portland State game area, under a dying sun.

Words From the Past

More office cleaning. I found the following Joe-cabulary entries in one of my notebooks from the days when I was doing extensive international travel. These would date to the mid to late 1980s. Enjoy:

Binbombs: loose items in overhead bins in aircraft

Binbow: bulge in bins from too much stuff packed in

Bizboze: Someone always talking about work and career

Blue Scissors: American Airlines Logo

Bowtie: fasten seatbelt sign

Breastnost: Post-Soviet topless bar

Breathfoo: collective morning breath on an aircraft

Buttbumps: rough air, turbulence

Cloudshroud: Overcast

Crunchgrazer: munchie addict at bar

Dozalounger: temporary sleepers in any environment

Feetees: socklets in travel kits

Fumicks: wet, sweaty feet on an aircraft

Hogline: free food in airline lounge

Horizonti: sleeping passengers

Lapflix: diminutive movie devices on aircraft

Lookitme: self-centered, egomaniacs orbiting in their own personal universes, which they want to describe in full detail and glory

Nodudeedads: duty-free stuff

Pee-Op: your chance at in-flight urinal

Phonaddict: always yapping

Planet France: alternate name, n’est pas?

Tootinsuit: drunk in a suit.

Whistle: wake if sleeping.

With Mirth and Laughter Let Old Wrinkles Come

The quote is from Mr. Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” and I send it along as a thank you for the “fye” 65th birthday cards; they’re not Flaming Hots, but they’re crunk. My personal thanks to certain students of Ms. Hollywood at Simeon Career Academy in Chicago. My personal thanks to: Anshanti, Ashley, Asia, Brettany, Camale, Caprice, Devonta, Diamond, Dornique, Javon, Jeremy, Jessie, Juanita, Karla, Karlisa, Laria, Lovell, Lynese, Maryam, Mercedes, Sequoia, Tashai, & Theresa.

Fun Photos

Over the last week, the color change around here kicked in. Will be in Owosso and Durand on Saturday, meeting folks at the libraries there, 10:3) in Owosso and Durand at the Durand Depot at 2 p.m. Should be an excellent color tour up and back.

Friends Dean and Christine were in the Yoop this summer and sent along some interesting pictures from their time in Ontonagon County, where her family hails from. Thought I’d share them in today’s posting, just for fun.

Lake Superior Sunset Red sky by night...and like that...
Lake Superior Sunset Red sky by night...and like that...
CouldaWouldaShoulda is West Michigan's hottest band for hire and home to a couple of Jambe Longue's brothers.
CouldaWouldaShoulda is West Michigan's hottest middle age band and home to two of Jambe Longue's brothers.
This driftwood looks like a cow carcass dropped on the beach.
This driftwood looks like a cow carcass dropped on the beach.
Eagle Family. Mom is to the left, young-un to the right. The nest in this tree sits almost right over a Lake Superior shorline,b ut the eagles don't seem to mind people wandering over to take look.
Eagle Family. Mom is to the left, young-un to the right. The nest in this tree sits almost right over a Lake Superior shoreline, but the eagles don't seem to mind.
I am always fascinated by the root structures in U.P. forests, the shapes they take on, thier colors and thei sheer will to survive under less than ideal conditions -- like the local people up there.
I am always fascinated by gnarly root structures in U.P. forests, the shapes they assume, their colors, and their sheer will to survive under less than ideal conditions -- like the local people up there.
Talking to the Refs, an old hockey tradition. No idea who sent this phtoto to me, but it's too funny to ignore. My friend Bob Lemieux is penning his hockey memoirs right now -- under the title of Off Wing -- and this photograph reminds me of the "good old days in the Eye (the IHL).
Talking to the Refs is an old hockey tradition. No idea who sent this photo to me, but it reminds me of the Good Old Days in the Eye (the IHL).

Gold in Town

Lindsay Tarpley
Lindsay Tarpley and Family: From left, Dad Gary Tarpley, an unidentified old gray-haired guy, Lindsay Tarpley, and mom. Barb.

Fifteen or so years ago for one brief summer I had the pleasure of coaching a young soccer player named Lindsay Tarpley. She was nine, playing with 12-year-olds and I saw right off that there was something special about her. This past week Tarps was in town to be honored by her community, and I was honored to be invited to say a few words about her to a gym filled with her young admirers.

What I said was this: “I saw in Lindsay, energy, intensity, humility, a positive attitude, a sense of humor, a great smile, the desire to strive to win, and trust in her teammates and in herself. She never got down, she was always trying to learn and improve, she practiced as hard as she played, and I only had to tell her something one time. I did not tell the audience or the young players about her physical prowess because that is in large part inherited. Instead, I talked about these other traits which every athlete can choose to have. The lesson is that you can do almost anything if you’re willing to work for it and never stop learning. Linsay now possesses two Olympic gold medals for women’s football (soccer) and next summer will begin her professional soccer career with the Chicago Red Hats. Want to know what she put into getting to where she is, go to It was great to see her and her, dad Gary, and mom Barb and let me be very clear on this: as her coach I had absolutely nothing with her getting to where she is. If I did anything of value at all, it was to not retard her growth. Great job, Tarps! Onward and upward!

Okay, serious stuff aside, I’ve been browsing some of my old notebooks this morning and came up with stuff that made me laugh out loud. Wish I knew the source of all this, but I don’t. I hope it makes you grin because we live in a very wacky and entertaining world.

Problems with translation…

Sign in Japanese hotel: “You are invited to take advantage of the chambermaid.”

Sign by a Paris hotel elevator: “Please leave your values at the front desk.”

Or this one in the Black Forest, in Germany: “It is strictly forbidden on our black Forest camping site that people of different sex, for instance, men and women, live together in one tent unless they are married with each other for that purpose.”

An anagram for senator is treason.

Questions without answers:

Why do you need a driver’s license to buy liquor when you can’t drink and drive?

Why isn’t the word phonetic spelled the way it sounds?

Do you need a silencer to shoot a mime?

If you’re in a vehicle traveling the speed of light, what happens when you turn on your headlights?

How come they don’t make airplanes from the same material they use to make indestructible black boxes?

Why is there Braille on keypads at drive-up ATMs?

And from the Joecabulary department, some new entries:

snow de gras: That break your back snow storm in late April or early May

stockcarnage: alternate word for demolition derby.

Sarahtose: Worn out from hearing about Alaska’s governor.

Barackatine: One who acts and speaks with the precision of Sen. Obama

dejas poo: place the dog goes to offload number 2 every day

Joe No-pack: With apologies to Sarah, some people area too poor to buy beer and these folk are no-packs, not six-packs.

rhymaniac: one who can’t help rhyming never mind the timing.

Foxitose: the state of numbness and disbelief in watching the amateur, self-promoting “fair-and-balanced” “journalists” of the Fox network.

Foxitude: A set of blind values, which herald only conservatism and constantly try to make liberal a four-letter word.

GLBA “Authors’ Feast” and Other Wan’d’rings

September Song
September Song

Last friday night I attended the “Authors’ Feast” of the GLBA (Great Lakes Booksellers Assn.) at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Dearborn. Sat next to John Grogan (Marley and Me) for the post-dinner autographing session. He is as funny and genuine in person as in print and because he once worked for the Kalamazoo Gazette and Muskegon Chronicle, we have mutual acquaintances. His wife, in fact, was hired for her first reporter job by my pal Roger Kullenberg in Muskegon. [Look for the movie of Marley and Me with Owen Wilson and Jennifer Anniston on Christmas Day.

Very nice evening. The way it works is that the authors (all 25 of us) ate before the dinner, then we sat with booksellers to talk about our latest books –an odd form of live entertainment, in my estimation. Who the hell would want to try to eat and listen to some bozo like me yammering about his or her book? Weird. But I had fun and I hope the diners did too. [Is this what it feels like to be Neil Diamond or Wayne Newton? Am I aging myself? So be it.]

The next morning we stopped and visited trade show booths and I had a great chat with Julie from Michigan State University Press, who knows my pal Mel Visser (author of Cold, Clear and Deadly); she is from a U.P. family with relatives from Manistique and the Garden Peninsula.

Independent booksellers are good folk and continue to be stout supporters of Grady Service and his gang.

After the show, we wended our way to Kazoo following a route south of I-94, to avoid the Saturday Chicago-Detroit traffic and bumper-to-bumper University of Michigan (vs U Wisconsin) football traffic.

Bears Battle Outside Front Door
Bears Battle Outside the Store's Front Door. Why they would do battle over moose antler sheds I have no idea.

Moving south, we stopped at the huge Cabella’s superstore in Dundee to ogle the giant trout. I’m talking 10-pounders in severe plus sizes here, folks, trout a thick as my calves and looking like they’ve been hand-fed corn-based bon-bons all their lives. Normally I’m happy with 7-inch brookies, but have to admit it’s great fun to tie into a big brown – especially in the middle of a moonless night.

Jambe Longue looked down in the pool and said, “Head-shakers for sure….” When you hook big browns, they tend to dive straight down and start violently shaking their heads, and all he while your heart is racing as you work quickly and calmly to get the fish onto the drag on the reel. I’d add: despite what browns normally do, I’ve also had them come firing straight out of the water like steelhead rockets. At night, if they leap and gator- roll, you usually can say sayonara to the fish….Not your fault. Just how it goes some nights.

Headshaker Mountain. Even the interplay of light and reflection doesn't diminish the size of these browns....
Headshaker Mountain. Even the interplay of light and reflection doesn' hide the size of the trout.

If you’ve never been to Cabella’s (Dundee,Mi, or out in Nebraska) you should make the pilgrimage at least once. I tried to talk to them years ago, in person and by snailmail about selling Woods Cop books, but they never bothered to answer the mail, and after an hour of waiting to see someone at the store, I bogeyed. I’m patient on trout streams, while writing my books, or while out on patrol with conservation officers. Nowhere else.

Cabella’s has a man-made, terraced “mountain” in the store, covered with [stuffed and mounted ] [dare we say, “taxidermed?”} north American game animals, including several mountain lions. I took some photos just to help with field identification – if one can see such a big cat in the wild and simultaneously not The food animal in Cabella’s , I believe is a mule deer, which gives one a pretty accurate size template to store in your head. The cougar’s body is approximately 5-8 feet, nose to end of the tail. Weight is 110-170 normally. Rare male muleys go up to 400 pounds. Females average around 110-120 lbs. Mule deer body trunks average four to just over five feet, not counting tail. Course we don’t have muleys in Michigan except in those fenced in farms where the well-heeled go to hunt. Our own whitetails are 5-7 feet long, nose to tail, and a buck with big antlers stands less than 6 feet tall. Ergo, the average cougar’s body size and length ought to be fairly close to deer body size, if this will help you with field ID — if you don’t deficate in your britches. Whatever you do, DON’T run.

Cougar Lunch
Cougar Lunch
How to size a lion
How to size a lion

I’d add here that reports of black cougars in Michigan or anywhere are more than odd, because biologists have never actually confirmed a black mountain lion anywhere in any climate or habitat in the world, inside or outside captivity. Cats are black from melanism, which appears to occur in other cat species, but not cougars. But we get an odd number of such reports here. Go figure. The play of light?

Let’s add another comparator here. Our dog, Shanahan, is napping on a couch about the length of a really big mountain lion. He’s about 3 feet long and weighs more than 80 pounds. If the cat you see isn’t a lot longer than Shanny, it’s probably not a cougar. I don’t know about you, but I walk around the woods with a number of size templates in my head to help me quickly make size estimates of creatures I encounter or see in the distance.

For Pete's sake, pop: Do I LOOK like a cougar?
"For Pete's sake,Pop: Do I LOOK like a mountain lion?"

We stopped at Dundee Farms to buy fresh fall farm produce for later and headed home The route took us through: Britton, Tecumseh, Manchester, Spring Arbor, Concord, Homer, Tekonsha, Burlington, Union City, Athens and Vicksburg. It was a wonderful crisp fall day, though the color is just getting started. Didn’t matter. We have plenty of color gathering in the rock garden here at the house.

Shanahan's post-exercise repose, replete with stick-tites. Note, couch h'e's on is length wise about the same size as a 5-8 foot cougar, nose to tail.
Shanahan in post exercise repose. Couch is 8 feet long, like a big, nose-to-tail cougar. Shanny takes up only a third of the space.
Need your shades to look?
Need your shades to look?
When Light Marries Color
When Light Marries Color

Final thought to start the week: Why do politicians keep referring to EYE-rack and EYE ran? IRR-rack IRR-an are the pronunciations. Unless of course I’ve been screwing up EYE-taly, EYEndiana, EYEllinois, EYEndia, EYEndonesia, EYEndianapolis…EYE-owa and EYEdaho. Wait: Iowa and Idaho are correct! Politicicans, though, might be calling them EH-owa…EH-daho. Yep, that’s what they’d do.

I continue to get an E-mail every single day from the Obama campaign. Sometimes two a day. Sheesh. I wish Zoltan Ferency was still among us. I’d write his name in for president. i have once again sent off numerous messages in various email formats asking them to send no more, but my demands never leave the electron world for the yes of humans. Yes, I’m having some fun at Obama’s expense, but in a campaign so insistent on change, I don’t see much. It’s so far mainly rhetoric. Round two of the debates tomorrow night and we shall see.

In the bet-you-didn’t-know this category: a conservation officer pal tells me that Timothy McVea, the Okalahoma City bomber, and Ernest Hemingway, both got tickets from DNR officers, and apparently there are documents as evidence. I laughed when I heard this. Old Hem never wrote about that, did he?

Coupla other oddities: The word, valetudinarian, is from 19th century, and means people overly fixated on their health, what we now more often call hypochondriacs.

Native Americans at one point in history called George Washington, then head of the Virginia militia, “Conotacariou,” which translates roughly into “devourer of villages.” George would probably prefer f”ather of the country” if he were still among us. Somewhere in my library I have a facsimile of an account written about his first military engagements with Native Americans, in which his butt was soundly and thoroughly thumped by his foes.

Passing the Autumnal Equinox
Color in the Garden
Color in the Garden