The rock in the photos below was found last week (not by me) along a Lake Michigan shore. Any opinions from rockhounds? It weighs in the neighborhood of 8 pounds. Some agate, some chert, some carnelian perhaps, or possibly some jasper? Very interesting visually.
Pal Mike Cook, flintknapper extraordinaire and primitive hunter (arrows with stone heads), sends word that he is holding a workshop at his farm near Portland, MI, July 18-19. Mike once made a bow for me out of orange osage — and two sets of arrows (practice and hunting tips).
I picked out the chunk of wood one fall, and promptly had a stroke. I spent the winter recovering and when I drove up to his farm in the spring to pick up the bow I saw that it was named Snow Fly. He had been looking out the workshop window, trying to think of a name for the bow (he names all of them he makes) and the snow was whipping around and thus the name. What Mike didn’t know was that my book, The Snowfly was at that very moment in preparation by Lyons Press. Talk about both spooky and cool!
When Midwest museums want to do exhibits involving fluted stone tools and weapons (arrows, spears, prismatic blade knives) Mike Cook often gets the call and the commission. The workshop is geared to intermediate level knappers. Mike will provide the necessary rock. Attendees can camp at Mike’s farm or stay in motels 10 or so minutes away. Bring your bows for target shooting and your bassing and bluegill gear. Directions will be sent when you register. There will be campfires at night and primitive fire-starting contests. The cost is $225 and limited to 6 students, who will pay $125 to secure their spot and the rest when they arrive. The registration deadline is June 30. Children under 15 register for $100. Call mike at 517-242-1352, or with email at email@example.com.
Mike is an original and I’m sure the class will be outstanding. If we valued craftsmen as the Japanese do, Mike Cook would be declared a national treasure, but our federal and state governments are pretty clueless and uncaring about such things — or art support in general. Too bad. I’d love to go to the workshop, just to watch Mike work (and to cast to the big old fat bass in his pond) but we’re committed to the Yoop at that time and can’t make it. If you want a unique summer experience and introduction to a unique skill with historical antecedents, don’t miss this chance.
Photos from yesterday’s walkabout/ramble, in one of the local game areas.
In 1939 the U.S. government “allowed” women to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program, which was designed to teach college pilots with an eye on a bigger picture.
After fruitlessly lobbying the White House to bring female pilots into the military in 1940 to ferry aircraft from US factories to military bases, several US women joined the British Air Transportation Auxillary and soon thereafter that the Women’s Auxillary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) came into being. Followed by the Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD).
In 1943, the year of my birth, the U.S. created the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). More than 25,000 women volunteered, a total of 1,830 were accepted into training, and 1074 graduated from WASP during its existence. The program was disbanded in 1944 after logging more than 60 million miles in operation. Thirty eight women were killed, including some in training accidents.
In 1977, the first year the USAF finally graduated it’s first post-WASP women pilots Congress granted military veteran status to former WASPS, and in 1979 gave them official honorable discharges.
Now, finally, Congress is in the process of passing a bill that would grant all WASP pilots with the Congressional Gold Medal.
It’s about damn time. Over.
On other fronts, some photos from recent wan’d’rings:
Finally got the fishing license and went scouting trout water today. Checked two trout streams, both having yielded great fish in the past. The best of the two streams had temps ranging from 68 – 74 degrees, and the other one was also 70ish. I can understand this in August, but in May? Add to this that the wind was blowing out of the northeast and we just didn’t bother, but these water temps this early down here bodes ill for the entire season. It may have to be north or nada this year. But the north, I’m hearing (Grayling area), has had really spotty fishing as well. Tomorrow, will go search for plate-size lighting rocks. They aren’t affected by water temperature (at least after the volcanic activity has subsided).
Memorial Day Weekend. Remember them all, including those still out in harm’s way.
Red Wings, 3-2 in OT. Someone once told me to be careful when others started taking their flensing knives to the language. The VS channel’s team leaves a lot to be desired in terms of language skills.
We used to call it cherrypicking; now it’s a stretch pass.
We used to call it lifting the puck; now it’s elevating the puck.
Make yourself available used to be expressed as getting open.
And what pray-tell is “an up-and-coming superstar?” Don’t you become a super star by outstanding performance over an extended period of time? Or is it linked to hyperbole and contract sizes? I forget.
For laughs I throw in a photo Bullshido Reg forwarded to me. Three days until game 3. Go Wings. Over.
The past couple weeks have been spring road-show circuit time, speeches and book signings.
Monday May 11, there was a fine and enthusiastic Traverse City Kiwanis crowd at the Holiday Inn on the Bay. The annual fundraiser for the Kiwanis Club of is on-line right now and you can find a couple of my autographed books there. To see and bid on items, go to www.kiwanisoftraversecity.org, click the Kiwanis Auction link, sign in, and make a bid. The auction closes May 30.
Thanks to Arne “Doc” Sarya for the invite there and to his son Dr. Dan, who is the organization’s president. [Doc was born up dere Keevenaw, t’ree quarters century or so back, little place called Allouez, eh?] The Sarya’s are Finns. I asked Doc if he could speak the lingo, and he quipped, “Enough to not starve.”
Frederick “Fritz” Barratt, my old college fraternity brother, and later 46th Air Refueling Squadron mate hosted me Saturday-Sunday and we spent time getting caught up. We got really involved in chatting and b.s.-ing with remember when stories from college and the Air Force; as we jawed, there was a heart attack in the restaurant next door (naturally we were in the bar, eh), and our bartender, a former USAF PJ (para-rescue man) went over to the restaurant and thumped the victim’s heart back into action and cared for the man until the EMS and cops got there. Fritz and I missed everything. And we’re supposed to be trained and skilled in situational awareness? Oh… boy. Colonel Fritz is a retired corporate pilot and national guard flight commander where he flew O-2s, A-37s, A-10s, and Gooney Bird gun ships in Vietnam. Fritz was able to provide me with vitals on another old squadron mate and hunting pal, Bob Tiplady, who’ll I’ll track down soon. We owe each other a beer or a hundred.
Fritz is a hunter and long ago I talked him into going with me over to Traunik to visit a farmer who complained to the Marquette Mining Journal about a bear that was ravaging his place. We visited the farmer, asked if he’d like us to sit on his problem area and he said sure. As we departed, with me in the lead I saw the bear – a humongous fat one—sitting in the middle of the road. I cranked on the breaks, grabbed my rifle out of the case, put in a clip and headed into the woods. The bear, seeing me stop, had headed east at high speed. Soon I was in pursuit and I could hear him ahead of me. Then he veered south. Fritz had seen me stop the car, guessed what was up and headed into the woods south of me to set up an intercept, but the bear had crossed a creek on a huge log and passed Fritz doing over the ursine speed limit. Fritz could hear him, but not see him. True story. Many years later pal Bob Lemieux and I were cruising nearby and he said he’d love to see bear sign. I turned down the same road, stopped the car randomly, walked into the woods and there were bear scats all over the place. This was 30 years after that day Fritz and I had visited the farm and there were still bears around the place.
Thursday night, May 14, it was up to Gio’s Trattoria Grille and the Friends of the Kalkaska County Library. On the way up, I took a cruise over to the Deward area of the upper Manistee River (a former logging community) and ambled along the banks. Nice black caddis hatch going, but the wind was bad and there was no time to suit up and rig up. Still, nice to be on the river. If you ever want solitude and good brook trout fishing, head for Deward in the middle of the week. Even on weekends, it’s above the aluminum hatch areas. And on some stretches of the upper Manistee you may even tie into a tiger trout (a muscular but sterile cross between a male brookie and a female brown trout).
In 1872 one A.A. Abbott moved to the area from Decatur, down near where I live, bought 1,000 acres and built a sawmill. The village started as a station on the Chicago & Western Michigan (now Pere Marquette) Railroad. Kalkaska is an Ojibwa word of uncertain meaning. When I get a little time, I may try to figure out what the meaning is.
If you think trout are beautiful creatures, stop in the center of Kalkaska some time and see the humongous fiberglass brook trout that is painted so beautifully it looks eerily real.
I almost always learn something new at these gatherings and on this night, a fine gent named Lou Nemeth gave me a new definition of a wolf tree. The one I use in fiction is of my own concoction, based on a real action of some extreme violators, but Lou, who owns and runs Maple Crest Farms of Alden, MI, told me a wolf tree in his business refers to a towering beech whose canopy spreads out and kills the light for all the maples around it. I love to learn new things like this. Maple Crest Farms, by the way, makes a wonderful maple syrup and a rustic pancake mix that is comprised in part of freshly milled buckwheat groats. The farm also has other specialty syrups, so if you’re up in the area, stop at 0416 Plum Valley Road NW in Alden and say howdy! [And open your wallet/purse too!] Thanks, Lou! Thanks to Kate Mosher for the library invite and to Deb Bull for all her hard work in organizing and promoting. After jawing with a great audience, I went into the bar and watched the Red Wings eliminate Anaheim, a perfect end to a nice evening.
Friday morning it was in the 20s, and I stopped at Robochef’s pop-up camper at Keystone campground on the Holy Water and woke him and Pennsylvania pals up. I also got to see them collecting “morels.” More on that later. I had my doubts they were morels and the doubt grew even stronger later when I got hold of some photos. There is a copy of the shrooms following this prose. Check them out and see what you think. Then I met pal Joe Guild for a quick breakfast to catch up on life’s events before heading over to Gates Au Sable Lodge to visit owner Rusty Gates, who is slugging it out with a serious health problem. For a long time Rusty has led the many fights to keep the Au Sable River safe and healthy and as we might expect, he shows the same grit in his own fight.
At one point, a customer held up a copy of Death Roe to Rusty and asked, “What’s the significance of this?”
Rusty said, “Why don’t you ask the author? He’s standing right behind you.” I immediately said, “It has no significance. It’s fiction. I made it up.” He didn’t buy a copy or say anything more.
All the rivers in the area where I was are high. There’d been an inch or so of rain a couple of nights before I showed up, and you could see it in levels and flows. Fishing has been good, catching not so much. But it will get better at the sulfur hatches kick in. At present the hatches are lagging a bit from hatch chart times. (Bugs apparently can’t read.)
Saturday, May 16, it was off to Saginaw and, of course, the route selected was the back way, over two-lane roads, and dirt where it could be found. Lots of funny and ironic signs and scenes along the way, which is always a highlight of a road trip. Cold rain in the morning, a blue-air sun and wind in the afternoon. Barnes & Noble Community Relations Manager Virginia Hughes did a great job setting up the signing. She used to live in Marquette and Escanaba. Quite a number of Yoopers stopped by to chat and buy books, so it was a very social event. It was also one of those moments when good follows the not so good, as in my truck tried to take a crap. Fans Tom Kochendorfer (retired school administrator) and his wife Barb (retired Kindergarten teacher), were on the spot, and jumped into action. Tom called a wrecker, got the truck towed over to Firestone, and even offered to loan me a car to get back to Kazoo. Tom is one of those take-charge, get-it-done kinds of men who manage to keep the world’s components going in the right direction.
Jay of Kreager Towing handled the wrecker, offered to set up a car rental, room, and other arrangements and was unbelievable helpful and professional. Such helpfulness made it almost like being in the U.P. BTB if you’re stranded on a road people may stop to offer help; in the UP they always stop, because help is part of the code of life there.
Shanahan, who was on the road for the day with his Poppy, got a carnival ride atop the wrecker. Not sure what he thought of it — but he got to eat his dinner in the truck on the way home, which made everything okey-dokers with him.
Turns out my battery posts were corroded and not making contact. The troops at Firestone put new posts on the battery and the Old Green Streamer burst to life and off we sailed away on all ten cylinders through farm country. As much as I love the U.P. and the north, I also love Michigan’s farm country, which has the sort of beauty which is one of acquired taste. My friend Kaye Bennett, who lived in the country and biked all over, used to say that the two most common signs in the countryside are: 1) Beware of the Dog, and 2) For Sale. Based on my informal survey at double-nickel speed, that still holds true.
Saginaw history: Louis Campau built a trading post in 1816 and platted the town of Sagina in 1823. A Lewis Cass treaty secured the area from the Indians arounbd 1819 and Fort Saginaw was built in 1822. Colonel David Standard became the first postmaster of Saganaw, which later was changed to Saginaw.
My favorite part of road trips is signage. Photos to follow the text will capture some of that.
Road trips, signings and speeches c’est finir for the moment, and I am ensconced in my officer cutting the manuscript length of Shadow of the Wolf Tree – for fall publication. Come summer, blog entries will drop way off as we’ll spend most of our time above the bridge, fishing for brook trout, looking for rocks and minerals, and scouting sites for Grady Service’s future adventures.
Yesterday afternoon the Red Wings dumped the Blackhawks in game one of the conference finals. Next game tomorrow night. Go Wings, kick dose Blackhawk butts. Photos follow. Over.
Somewhere due West of Saginaw on Saturday on Tittabawassie Road, passed a gun club where they were having a “Bar-B-Q Chicken Shoot.” Is it just me, or does that sound really easy? I mean who will miss a chicken roasting on a spit or grill? The stuff you see! And read! Over.
Word from friends in the western U.P.:
M. and S., living near Crystal Falls, recently returned from a warmer climate. Asleep this night, S. hears “something walking around the upper deck.” She gets up, turns on a light, and a black bear boogies into the night, leaving claw marks on a deck post. No biggie. S. takes down the birdie feeder, and puts it inside the house. An hour later she hears the visitor again, turns on the light and away the bear goes again. They report seeing bears around the house every year (not to mention, moose, otter, bobcats, etc), but this is first time a bear got onto the upper deck. M. slept through the whole thing — pretty much what you’d expect from a retired DNR sergeant, eh?This suggests it was a very hard winter, for M. and the bear. Taking down the birdfeeder should prevent future visits.
Meanwhile, two of my CO buddies (G and J) are out checking a large lake for early walleye anglers. Having done a number of pre-season patrols over recent years, they see a number of anglers fishing from docks with poles in one hand, and binoculars in the other — possibly some people are beginning to get the message about not getting into the game too early. The air temp was 32 and ice was forming on their boat. The COs were wearing snowmobile suits and gloves and it was f-r-i-g-i-d….but they continue the patrol and eventually come upon two individuals with two fish in their boat. One of the men says, “We can start fishing at 11, right?” And the boys reply, “As far as we know, this is still May 14 and the opener is May 15…. The offenders then proceeded to blame their neighbor for giving them false information. Yah-huh. RTFR, buckos. Contrary to what sometimes seems to be a popular belief among some sports, ignorance is not 9/10ths of the law. Just like inebriation isn’t a legal defense against bad driving.
I’ve been on the road for a some time. Will catch up blog early this week, with photos and adventures. But one interesting tale returning from a Saginaw book signing we met a nice woman north of Ionia . She said she had hummingbirds coming back to her flowers every year, but they sold out the stock for this past Mother’s Day, and a bird showed up and hovered and hunted until it landed exhausted. She went inside, mixed sugar water in her hand, went back outside, held out her hand and the little bird drank from her hand until it had its fill, and buzzed away with restored energy. Wonderful tales, all. We live in a great state, bears, walleye, hummingbirds and mostly real fine people — and some wing-nuts thrown in for variety.
Wonders surround us folks. Just give circumstances a chance and take the time not just to look, but to SEE.
Kudos: Great time with Michigan’s rural librarians last Thursday night. To read the speech hit the following link to “More Science or More Science?”
Betwixt the K’s: Next morning up to the Leelanau for some rock-hounding. Windy. A CO acquaintance told me about a spot to find Leland Blue, but the construction boss threw us out. So it goes. Didn’t have time to wait until the site closed for the weekend.
Kudos: Lunch with bunch of retired and active COs in TC Thursday midday. I heard GREAT stories. I am always impressed by how they see the funny side of things and can laugh at themselves. Some one needs to write a nonfiction history of Michigan’s DNR law enforcement so knowledge can formally be passed on. For some college and its students of history, it would also be a great project to gather oral histories of Michigan conservation officers, game wardens, and how the job has changed over the decades.
Kvetch: This morning Shanahan took off again. I went hunting this time, found him in a den of some kind. All I could see was the tip of his tail hitting some high grass. Rest of him was subterranean. I had to leash him and DRAG his butt away.
Kvetch: Here to TC to Leelanau State Park and back and not one live deer observed over more than 500 miles. Some turkeys, and a lot of deer carcasses, many from last winter, but not much else.
Kvetch: Snow in the Leelanau. I had heart palpatations. I know, I know, my pals in the Yoop tell me to stop whining.
Kudos: Visited Bob and Judy Bernhardt from BJ’s Rock Shop in Trout Lake while they were at the gem and mineral show at the Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds this past weekend. Nice folks, and knowledgeable. Judy is a fine painter.
Kvetch: Yo, Wings. Let’s get on the stick. Joe T don’t like no OTs, not to mention multiples of such a sad phenomenon….
A few recent photos follow for your enjoyment….