Color Changes

The change is beginning to accelerate. Weather is calling for high 20s, low 30s tonight, possible freeze. Woolly worms out on the paths today, along with blond hairy worms (say what?). The neighborhood deer are beginning to go from red to gray and are out all day eating like pigs. The Farmers’ Almanac, as I read it, seems to be calling for a colder, snowier winter this year. Snowier than what? Last three have registered in our top ten of all-time winter snowfalls. Yesterday the city was mowing the grass along the paths and I wonder why. I’ve seen two or three city park rangers recently. Only once have I seen one around here not in a truck, and he was on a bike. Why they drive their little trucks down the paved paths and never get out is beyond me. I’m guessing  that we have more park rangers in this town, than DNR law enforcement personnel in all of southwest Michigan. I went to the city website for a number,  but the parks department has been taken off it.

You know. The usual stuff. The President making a pitch for the Olympics for his hometown, where 37 students were gunned down last year and 3 or 4 more kids  so far this year. Things like the Olympic games  may sound fine and make the corporate fatcats feel good, but they don’t do much for the poor and the down and out. I thought the China games were spectacularly presented and also wondered exactly what the Chinese were trying to prove, that they can spend needless money, just like the west? I’m beginning to wonder if the President is done making pretty speeches in order to start making tough decisions and leading this country.  The military put a new policy into effect, at his direction, last spring. Now the military says it needs more troops to do what the Prez wants.

Maybe he should turn the war totally over to corporate mercenaries and let them try to squeeze max profit from the crap storm over there.

Right now the rudder of this ship feels a lot mushy. And I continue to get regular emails from Obama’s people, like I am a staunch supporter.. I repeat, they never answered my original email. Their computer people are locked not into communications, but output-think, how much wood could a woodchuck chuck  — counting outgoing messages. The president’s popularity rating is going down, and of course the Republicans, those great patriots,  are making sure that they pull out the very worst of every demographic they can find to embarrass the president. Ah, America, land of the free ride for those who already have a gold-lined one.

it will be nice to get out int he trucks with DNR officers and help with important work, rather than spin and rhetoric. (Wasn’t that a Disney Mouseketeer series, in the 50s :  Spin and Rhetoric?)

Over.

The World Around Us

This will be mostly photos. The wolves are  two of three who had to be removed from coyote leg-hold traps by one conservation officer, just last week. Word is that the release process revealed that releasing the animals wolves proved challenging.  The largest weighed 85 pounds, the smallest 60-65. The tree Shanahan is staring at was moments later totally dismantled by him, whereupon he “rendered inanimate’ a nest of mice and spit them out. Instinct in an animal is something to behold. I have a movie, but the site won’t contain it because of size. There are also two shots of an eastern box turtle we encountered yesterday. Jambe Longues spotted it. Shanny shunned it. And while I’ll be posting Bullshido camp stuff later, I’ll tell you that a week ago today I got up early and went for a ramble, cutting through the woods to an old two-track. At one point I saw a cabin and headed uphill only to find out it was not the place I remembered and two chained pit bulls came charging out of dog houses to raise thunder.  As I tried to slow my heart, more ruckus from behind — a third pit bull, also chained. I had walked within six feet of the dog house and not even noticed it. Fortunately he had not noticed me either until his kennel mates raised hell. That could have been a very costly walk. But luck was with me. I know pit bulls are much and wrongly maligned, but frankly I’d rather deal with wolves, which are both consistent and predictable. Over.

Logger Dog
Logger Dog

Eastrn Box Turtle. Rarely seen over large expanses of once native habitat in our state.
Eastrn Box Turtle. Rarely seen over large expanses of once native habitat in our state.
Camo done the proper way. The blue laces, not so much.
Camo done the proper way. The blue laces, not so much.
Wolf in coyote trap
Wolf in coyote trap
Another wolf, another trap, same problem.
Another wolf, another trap, same problem.

Law As a Petty Tool in an Insidious Game, and Some Splashes of Color

True story, from northern Indiana. I’ve seen all the paperwork.  Guy puts some sort of insect bomb in his house, as he does every spring. Let’s his two cats stay outside. They nap on back porch. Guy leaves to run quick errands, comes back, and  finds note and ticket  from animal control. The cats have been seized. The animal control officer notes on the ticket how tame and well trained the cats are and that he went onto the porch through the guy’s yard, and scooped them up. Ticket alleged failure to control. Guy goes to court, judge fines him $250 and takes the cats away from him. No previous problems, tickets, anything. Federal judge just down the street has a cat that prowls all over the neighborhood. Turns out the guy that lost his cats was  an elderly couple who saw the cats on porch and called animal control. Same couple this guy did lawns and blew snow for — as a favor.  Also turns out that they do this all the time and at one point whole neighborhood was ready to string them up and their only response was, “But it’s the law.” Naturally the couple never complain about the federal judge, eh.

Okay, they are in a strict constructionist perspective correct. But neither the judge, nor  the animal control officer showed a wit  of judgment in their judgment. In a strict constructionist social view, the two elderly neighbors are Assholes with a capital A. We live not only in sad economic times, but in petty, mean times. When I heard this story I wouldn’t believe it until saw the ticket /report and the actual judgment.

Also heard this week about a DNR officer for whom a local prosecutor refused to prosecute cases because they “weren’t important enough.”  Fed up, the officer retired.

From past experience–  I also have seen on numerous occasions how effective COs affix DNR statutes to their tickets so the prosecutorial offices will have them. Too often the offices can’t seem to find the “right charge,” and just pick one. Our education system is broken? Hell, the legal system is even worse off, but that will never get fixed because the fixing would have to be done by those who used the broke system to their advantage.

On happier notes, I include for your pleasure photos from last week’s visit to the Bank Street farmer’s market and to the local Mexican grockery and bakery. Talk about a morning-long color splash!

Geometrics (diamonds upon diamonds, or squares upon squares, depending on one's viewpoint]
Geometrics (diamonds upon diamonds, or squares upon squares, depending on one's viewpoint)
(With apologies to Belushi) redpeppah redpeppah redpeppah
(With apologies to Belushi) redpeppah redpeppah redpeppah
Da colah poypull
Da colah poypull
Fresh-picked razzies, warming in the sun....
Fresh-picked razzies, warming in the sun....
Dash of splash
Dash of splash
lavender cauliflower
lavender cauliflower
red and yellow
red and yellow
a little color here...a little color there...
a little color here...a little color there...
La Mexicana, filled with good stuff
La Mexicana, filled with good stuff
Azteca Bakery
Azteca Bakery
Inside the bakery
Inside the bakery
inside the bakery case
inside the bakery case
green hearts
green hearts
pinyata h(e)aven
pinyata h(e)aven
pink N yeller
pink N yeller
You've GOT top be kidding me! I'm on a diet!
You've GOT to be kidding ! I'm on a diet!

River of Disinformation

Back from camp a couple of hours ago. Fun week, weird weather. 60s, humidity in 80s, 90s. I checked various fly shop website before leaving and they were all reporting “low water but fish runs about to hit peak.” This sort of thing has gone on with many proprietors who ply the Pere Marquette for many years.  This year, the rive was not low and the runs were not near peak. Still, this was the first time we held camp in September and was thus our first opportunity to play with salmon, which by the way, is a much more difficult proposition in a narrow river than out in some huge river with wide flats.

Our long-time host Al has never caught a salmon in the river, so we endeavored to get him one. To no avail.  But one day he and the others headed back to camp around 10 a.m. when the sun was on the water and 20 minutes late Reg (the Yankcanuck) tied into a nice male, burying a cheese egg right in the fish’s jaw. Eight-pound test line. The fish surged downriver, and Reg, using gear rigged for right-handers (he’s left-handed) yelled at me to take the fish because it was pulling him toward a deep hole. I thought he was joking until I saw him beginning to hop and dance downstream, so I went over and took the rod and hauled the fish back up onto the gravel and Reg netted him. We took photos and let him go.

I’ve included photo of our meal last night, curried chicken with walnuts and grapes on some kind of neufy salad, Swedish limpa bread from  the Brick Oven bakery north of Newberry —  and some nice red and white vinos.

Also last night, we stayed on the river too late, none of us thought to bring a flashlight, and in the dark we missed the exit trail.  Not lost, only temporarily disoriented by a few hundred yards, and we managed to work it out clumsily and stumble out to the trucks and back to  camp for a very late dinner.

Before fishing yesterday we watch a pit bull, which had gotten loose from somewhere, romp over to the neighbor’s beach and began playing with a large rock (cantaloupe size), moving it onto the beach, then rolling it back into the water. You know, psychotically. Like a cannibal tenderizing  a human head. It was fascinating to watch. I got a quick movie  but it’s too big to load so I’ll have to figure out what to do about that. More on camp later. This was not the first time I had met the pit bull. Hope everyone had  good week.

Tiz good to be home. Over!

two on a redd
Two on the redd. Chinooks, female in front, male and other competitors behind.
”]Bank Wallahs: From left, Al the Pal, Yooper Lars, some dude who happened to be passing by. And Reg, the Yank Canuck. I have no clue what the hell they were watching.
Another watcher living vicariously....
Another watcher living vicariously....
Joe, joe joe! I thought he was joking until I saw him dancing downstream toward a hole
Joe, joe joe! I thought he was joking until I saw him dancing downstream toward a hole
Reg's fish. We had no scale. I estimated it at 13-15 pounds
Reg's fish. We had no scale. I estimated it at 13-15 pounds
Of course I had to get into the photo album too....
Of course I had to get into the photo album too....
Curried chicken salad with walnuts and grapes.
Curried chicken salad with walnuts and grapes.
Truck-lunching. Da boys on break at Da River.
Truck-lunching. Da boys on break at Da River.

32nd Annual Bullshido Camp

Northgoingiamsoon, in Yoda-speak. Yesterday was a city day, a very nice and mild and sunny  one.  Morning began at the Bank Street Farmer’s Market, which you have to see to believe in terms of foods, and colors, and people. Ever seen a hooded gourd? Me either, until yesterday. Thence to the fabled  Azteka Bakery and Grocery store on Portage Road,  for Mexican pastries, fresh coffee and to buy cooking spices, which are a lot less expensive than your standard grockerystore.  After that it was  a stop to see Gloria Tiller at Kazoo Books II about some writing biz stuff, and then a stop at the Pacific Rim market  for Thai red peppers, but they had only green. Instead, will take my own home-grown tiny reds with me and some rustic Ukraiian rye bread.

Driving around the city recently,  it struck me that a symbol of urban/suburban  life (as urban/suburban  as Kalamazoo/Portage  get, which ain’t all that much) is a person using one hand to walk his or her dog on a short leash, and in the other hand carrying a small clear plastic bag containing dog shit in arying degrees of freshocity. As a kid I would never have imagined that life with dogs would reduce to such peculiar and persnickety  behavior, but here it is, front and center. When I was a kid living in Europe in the 1950s,  people crapped all over the landscape — in public, no  apologies, plastic bags, or turd removal  requred.

Oh, and skateboarding has returned, at least to my neighborhood. I saw the first skateboards when I was in college in the early 1960s, and every few years they seem to be rediscovered, but the kids riding them are pretty much the same from generation to generation.

Word is out that the Pere Marquette River system is loaded with kings (chinooks)  , which portends bank-to-bank fishermen. As I remember it, the runs usually peak the secnd week of  Octobber, but some are calling for the peak this week, which puts it by my reckoning  about three weeks  ahead of schedule. This whole summer we dealt with Ma Nature running leverything late. Now she’s  ahead? Go figure. I’m packing the salmon gear, but still hope to find some night holes for mousing.  The silver lining should be few canoes and rafts during the week. Sometime during the week I am certain I will find a gem. This will be the crew’s thirty second consecutive and annual camp. Pretty amazing for anything to persist into its fourth decade.

Squirrels seem inordinately active and have seemed so for nearly a month now, with a lot of fighting and squawking at each other from dawn to dusk.  Deer are out eating in broad daylight in places where they normally don’t show up until after dark. Makes one wonder about the winter ahead.

I’ve finished my Shakespeare reading for awhile and switched to James Joyce. Will make another run at Finnegan’s Wake, a story that starts mid-story and ends the same, but how can you not adore a book whose first word is “riverrun?”  For camp reading fare, I have the camp cartoon book, of course, and tonight hope to finish Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza’s Blackout. Three other books will make the trip: Richard Ellmann’s biography, called James Joyce. Louis de Bernieres, The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts. And, Steven Johnson’s, The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic — and how it Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. With luck I’ll get two read, but it’s normal for me to have four or five going in various parts of the house.

Back in a few days, with pix. The ones from the Farmer’s Market will blast your eyes with magical colors and shapes. And maybe some fish and river pix too.  Take no prisoners.  Over.

New World Record Brown Trout?

Check the Sept. 10 Grand Rapids Press story about this: You will find a photo of 66-yr old Tom Healy holding a 41 pound, 43.75 inch long brown caught Wednesday morning  on the Manistee  River. It was hooked on a Rapala Shap Rap lure and took 15 minutes to boat. The current state record is 36 pounds, 13 ounces, caught in 2007 near the Frankfort Harbor.

The current world brown trout record is 40 pounds, 4 ounces, caught on the Red River in Arkansas in 1992. Mr. Healy caught his monster, which may be a new world record, near the Bear Creek access point. This is no doubt a Lake Michigan fish that migrated into the river to eat salmon eggs.

Sheesh. Over.

Putting the Sun on Good

A friend told me this story this morning and it’s the kind that begs to be shared because it says something wonderful about how community is supposed to work.

A few days ago my friend called an elderly woman friend  at an assisted living facility  to ask if she wanted to go for a “burger and a beer” on her 95th birthday, which was yesterday. The woman said, “You betcha.”

Yesterday they hooked up and my friend they drove  to the new Firekeepers Casino on the east side of Battle Creek. They pulled into the parking garage and got a spot only four slots from the door. My friend said she began to suspect it was going to be a good day. A woman at the door told them how to get to the slot machines, the birthday girl’s passion years ago, but first it was a trip to get an ID and all that. The woman does not have picture ID. Her son holds that for her. So my friend looks at the twenty-something clerk,  asks if the older woman can get a gambling ID and adds it’s her 95th birthday. The guy says, “Perfect. She qualifies.”

Pretty soon all 8-10 people in the office are singing Happy Birthday. The birthday girl’s face is aglow with delight.

After searching for a penny slot machine where she could actually bet a penny ( as opposed to penny slots with min bets of $1 or 40-cents) they located one and when the birthday girl punched in her card in, the machine wished her Happy Birthday.  90 minutes later she has burned through her $5 and it is time to go. After a quick biffy-loo stop (for my friend, not the 95-yr.- old) they drive to Marshall (six miles away) and went into a bar called Charlie’s. Maybe 10 people in there and a young bartendress. My friend announced it was her friend’s 95th birthday. The barkeep announced, “She gets a free beer,” and sets her up.The customers, unprompted, break into a resounding Happy Birthday.

They then get a $5 Keno card and order burgers. The birthday girl wins a buck on Keno and the barkeep brings her a crisp new bill.

Dinner done, my friend goes to pay the bill and the barkeep says, “It’s on me.”

All unprompted, all from the heart, and if this sort of story doesn’t warm your heart, you need an ultrasound to determine if you still have one.

Over.

$30 Day

After installing new fence sections this morning, I packed the Green Streamer and headed for TBI on the Kalamazoo River. I parked at the Want-Some-Palace and cut through the woods, waded out to the island and looked around, spooking up a blue heron with an annoyed graak!.  It had been unexpectedly overcast all morning, but by 1 p.m., the sun was beginning to peak through. I rigged the  5-weight and listened to two heavyweights smash food on the far bank.  Still I put on a small chartreuse streamer, just to limber up. Should have gone home then. Seven flies later, all streamers, all lost to poorly tied knots, each loss leaving me with the telltale curlycue of line where the fly had been,   its presence proclaiming  “operator error,” the wind suddenly shifted to the east and I  gladly hung it up. By the end I was using a giganto Sneaky Pete, but heaving it upstream into the wind,  and south just wasn’t in the cards. $30 bucks inthe drain, I opted for bugout time.

Still, it was fishing and something not involving any other part of life, it’s importance being that it isn’t.

Yesterday I walked the trail in the neighborhood and encountered Ma Deer and her kids again. When I stopped to watch them she suddenly wheeled and advanced toward me and began letting out bleats I took to be threats. She whirled to run, but the bigger of the two fawns stayed put and stared at me and she let loose more bleats, maybe to get the little one to move, or to move me. Never heard this before, but heard it three times and it seemed directed at me. Watching wildlife is a fascinating thing, until the deer start eating your hostas, or something. They then shift from cute to public enemy.  My neighbors with backyards against the woods have no kind words. Friend Mary Lou has them walk on to her deck, tour her house eating her plants, and bed-down in her backyard at night. Violence agains them isn’t an option. She went to visit her sister and hubby one time after he’d gotten a bull elk in the once-in-a-lifetime deal in Michigan. He had the head mounted and it was in the dining room. And he served elk meat and Mary Lou looked up at the trophy and had to leave the table.

I can feel fall coming now, the air grabbing a little morning crisp.

Over.

Oddities

A friend sent me some interesting photos of odd things, carnivorous pitcher plants, and a strange salamander from Mexico, allegedly kept in some places as pets and sold in Japan as “oompa loompas.” One source says the Aztecs believed the creatures to be incarnations of the lightning death god, Xolotl, who cleverly and unexpectedly morphed into a water animal  to escape being sacrificed. And the Aztecs then ate the reincarnations? Does this mean the morphing  ploy didn’t work?  Go figure.  These salamanders are on the Endangered Species list. They’re also similar to some we have in the U.S.

Axolotl
Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum)

Friday night —  dinner with friends. Walking to our vehicles from the restaurant, we passed a shop window with what seemed to be faux rats on display.  Too random to ignore, I took a photo.  We then repaired to our friends’ home for a glassa and they introduced us to the big brown bat that lives in their garage. Naturally I had to get photos and was struck by the similarity to the fake rats photographed earlier. Weird. The bat stared down at me like cougar patiently waiting its time.

Saturdayit was off  to the Gilmore Art Institute to see an exhibit about Georgia Okeeffe and her circle of painters. There was more about the collector than about the artists, which struck me as obnoxious.  Shouldn’t the focus be the artists and more importantly, their work?Okeeffe did some interesting things, but I find her work mostly dull and uninspiring.  Same for the others in the collection. But a lesson therein: even though the paintings didn’t  evoke much in the way of interest in me they all have one thing in common and that is professional craftmanship — how the painter puts the paint on the cavans or other media. You may not agree with the execution of a particular subject or even the choice in subject, but the painters all know how to put paint on a surface.  It was worth the trip to come to this realization, which has been circling my brain for some time now.

Sunday we took a long walk in the woods and ran across all sorts of shrooms in an area of oaks and pines — and not far from a little trout stream. The array of color was wonderful, as were the shapes.

We are not yet in Indian Summer, though we are having what the Germans used to called “Hitler Days,” 80 degrees, cloudless,  and sunny. (Hitler Days? He liked to go out for rides  in his chauffered convertible with the top down and security men riding along — and bluebird skies made this possible.) We’ve not had our first hard freeze yet, but the days are pleasant and if the wind holds to the west, I’ll make a trip or two to TBI in the Kalamazoo River. No rain receently, which I hope has kept the river level dropping. This is the time of year when smallies will come up from deep holes into the shallows and chase minnows through vegetation. Theoretically.

Soon I’m going to put up some short motion picture clips  to see how those set in the blog. Nothing earth-shattering, but if such stuff goes up easily, I’ll look to doing more  from my travels.

Nepenthes distillatoria
Pitcher plant, Nepenthes distillatoria, strictly carnivorous -- like many of our politicians.

Enjoy. Over.

Rat in a Window
Rat in a Window

rat-too

Bat on the wall, don't that beat all?
Bat on the wall, don't that beat all?
Sorry about that Mr. Big Brown Rat, didn't mean to surprise with a flashbulb in your eyes.
Sorry about that Mr. Big Brown Rat, didn't mean to surprise with a flashbulb in your eyes.
Think back on the rat in the window. Would bite marks inthe shroom match the rat"s?
Think back on the rat in the window. Would bite marks inthe shroom match the rat"s?
Some sort of idol for the little people who live under the leaves
Some sort of idol for the little people who live under the leaves
Shroom of the pale green peersuasion.
Shroom of the pale green peersuasion.
we gotcher red...
we gotcher red...
we got em on sticks...
we got em on sticks...
ask your question and takes your pick...
ask your question and takes your pick...
nature's elipsis
nature's elipsis

bitten heart

Nothing like a little sun to illuminate the gold...
Nothing like a little sun to illuminate the gold...
I wonder where we'd be with the theory of gravity had Newton found this apple shroom stuck to the ground below leaves, instead of an apple falling from a tree...
I wonder where we'd be with the theory of gravity had Newton found this apple shroom stuck to the ground below leaves, instead of an apple falling from a tree...
sassafras is changing colors...
sassafras is changing colors...
without uniformity or predictability...
without uniformity or predictability...
Axolotl,
Axolotlhalf and half, color-wise
The long and the short and the tall? We're all headed into the fall.
The long and the short and the tall? We're all headed into the fall.

(Amystoma mexicanum). Grows to about 12 inches in length. One-time delicacy on Aztec dinner plates, now endangered. Creature’s ability to regrow limbs, has led to its use as a model by researchers.