The Uncompassed Duel States Of America

I watched the speech last night, and the lame joke that followed, and this morning

this little pome popped out.

Republicans sat last night

En grisaille, suited

Crusty Easter Island moai

Stone-still, sneaking

Under-breath barbs to pals

Like middle school burnouts

Way in the far-back row

Trying to defy order

(Without being caught)

An earmark of smugness,

Total lack of respect.

While Democrats danced in the aisles

like it was a damn tent revival

And Veep Joe Bidenhead sat

Nodding metronomically

beside grinning

Speakerhouse Fullmousy

As our Preachident

Catalogued four-letter concerns:

Play-debt-bill-vets-core-gays-mess-

Safe-wall-fine-jobs-vote-nuke-wars-coal-

Side-easy-idea-hole-belt-veto-rule-

Poor-rich-good-evil-poll-pill-

Bank-bite-fear-home-loan-loss-

Gain-plan-forn-jobs-iran-iraq-NOKO-

Grid-deal- draw- debt-down-300M-

Left-lost-lose-loss-last-wins-back-

Won’t-quit-can’t-quit.

Y    a     w    n.

As I heard it: We got untracked off-track

of our closed-track

Which then became a lost-track,

And now allegedly we’re on the right track

To make a fresh track, am I warm yet?

Can you keep track? Not I,

but let us not back-track.

Instead: Down in Texas

Earlier this month

An old codger

Told me: “Some’s tightenin’ belts,

some’s wearin’ ropes fer belts,

and others is polishin’ gold buckles.”

We are less and less a country; We seem two

Angry, frightened Nations, divisible under mean-eyed

Naked ambition for power.

Elected officials do not serve the public.

They serve themselves to fatten

Their bank account prospects.

At least we have a leader

Speaking English, as opposed

To a “Decider” who don’t-

didn’t-won’t-wouldn’t-can’t.

All this talkatus (not talkwithus)

All this faux drama,

brietard posturing by pharisees,

amounts to bipolar beer-glassery,

blends to educacaphanous verbal drool,

fainéant quiddity; some jerk ganked

our national compass, dudes, ISYN.

High today to be below twenty, snow, high wind. Perfect next day

to bookend last night’s speech.

Youse  ‘ave a noyce die, over.

Mimmicking Facebook

Here is typical Facebook wall posting: “My dog has four legs; so do my chairs. Today I need to wash my dog.” I’m also  on Facebook, but I’m thinking it ought to be renamed “Get-A-Lifebook.” Or www.Drivel.com? Nah, those names probably are already taken. Our snow is back, not a lot but enough to lightly repaint the landscape. Yesterday the Shan and I spooked one of our local redtails off the ground where she (I assume it was mom) had been dive-bombing something. Later in the day, a cooper’s hawk soared close over our heads, probably headed for bird feeders, their fave hunting territories. There’s a bozo down our walking route who has a salt block out for deer. They’ve nibbled the square down to a 45 degree angle, and must hit the thing at night. I’ve seen them bedding about 100 yards from the salt block — among fallen trees, but have never seen them on the salt itself.  The sometime-bedding area is within eyesight of the annual redtail hawk nest. Yes, no feeding or baiting is allowed or legal in the lower peninsula, but a lot of people in this area simply ignore the ban and do whatever the hell they want. The fine here is something like $150, I think. In some counties the fine starts at $400. All of our fish and game fines are way out of date, but our legislators lack the political cajones to jack them up where they should be. Same same for hunting and fishing license fees.  When I think about it, this is not a surprise: our legislators are rarely known for politifal cajones in any undertaking, unless it is to dirtmouth an opponent during an election. Michigan, once one of the bright beacons of states now pretty much leads the nation as losers in almost all categories. And while our auto industry may have suffered the cosmis snickersnack we still have one of the greatest natural outdoor beauty bounties in the United States. But few pols willing to nurture it, much less defend it. Hey we have some of the oldest history in the Americas  right in this state. What does the state do to promote it? Virtually nothing.  This isn’t a rant; it’s simply a statement of our realities.

In looking at the Michigan Secretary of State booklet, What Every Driver Must Know,  I note that the pamphlet uses the word freeway throughout the tome until it gets to the practice test at the end, at which point it switches to the word expressway. Why would they do that?

Want an interesting UP web site? This is not a direct link, but type in   www.Alumnac.com/newsletter and take a look. If you like it,   sign up.  It’s free. www. Pasty.com is another good one. If you know of other interesting yooper websites drop me an e-mail through the site. It’s free.Truth. I’m currently a site sponsor. The site reaches 17,000 – 18,000 people, which ironically is about equal to the state’s black bear population.

Starting to plan my spring DNR research outings, which is trickier than fall because spring activities are heavily weather dependent.

Over.

Short Fiction

This story is from John Bat-Carp Chapman (Maj, USAF, Ret).  We attended undergraduate navigation training together at Mather AFB, Sacramento, CA. Before that he was a swimmer at U. Illinois. He spent most of his AF career in F-111s. It’s a true story.

One day a long, long time ago, there was this pilot who, surprisingly, was not full of b.s….But it was just one pilot a long, long time ago…. And it was just for one day.

This is of a genre called navigator humor. There isn’t a whole lot of it. Over.

Missias Memorial Services

Memorial services for Arthur H. Missias, 1948-2010, will be held at the Portage Northern High School Igloo at 1 p.m., Friday, January 29. Somehow it seems appropriate that we say goodbye to Artie  in a place named for extreme cold. I doubt I could even begin to tally all the hours we spent with kids and teams  in the coldest damn rinks all over the Midwest and Ontario. Art gave his all to his players, to the sport of ice hockey, including the American Hockey Association of the U.S. [AHAUS], Portage Northern Varsity Huskies  Hockey, the Kalamazoo Optimist Hockey Association [KOHA], and, most recently to the Bronco Women’s Hockey Club at Western Michigan University. I have no idea how many games or championships  his teams won, but it was a bunch; what I know is that he hated to lose. And he maintained contact with most of his players and considered them family. He, Julie, Chris and Sarah live about 100 yards away from me and I walked Shanahan past the house twice a day. In the afternoons, while Art was in chemotherapy,  he would be out in the sun relaxing and I would hear that  familiar low growly yelp, “HEYWOOD!”  It was the same yell he used in the rinks all through winter. He was one of a kind and had an uncontrolled laugh that could melt a crowd of any size. Art was not physically imposing, but he was a giant in all ways that mattered : Husband, son,brother, nephew, dad, friend, mentor, coach. If they have hockey up where he’s going, I have a pretty good idea who’ll be working the bench, probably already getting stuff organized as we speak.

Elegy for Arthur H. Missias, 1948-2010

Hey Artie, yo Art! You listening?

We sat last night’s death vigil from afar,

The place where your kids came to be sat and such,

Sucking back aches of time,

Trying to replace the starkness of your now

With memories of rinks and ice,

Sweaty kids in penalty boxes,

Coaches yelling between periods,

Chirping at referees from benches,

Brown-nosing parents,

Holding our noses at

The smell of practice gear

Redolent of adolescent sweat

Percolated with testosterone,

Trophies being hoisted,

League Championships, Final Fours

All these mortal merit badges most mere,

None as important as the central fact

Of one good Greek

Who gave and never took.

Of such a man one could write

A mighty book, but were you here,

Would surely tap my arm,

shake your bocci-ball head,

And give me the longest look,

Peeling back emotional layers

To remind us all that mattered

To you were your family and your players,

What better testament,

Can one leave in their mortal wake?

A short man casting a tall shadow,

Leaving ginormous skates for others to follow.

Amen and Over.

Gray Days

One of those gray days, hinting cruelly of spring, which remains only a distant thought in reality, not even a possibility yet.  All-day errands, hithering and thithering , a little unexpected and much welcomed color popping up — a cardinal in a tree at a friend’s place, a deer prancing nervously in the woody swale. A visit to Tiffany’s the  wine shop on the west side of town and into the little-talked-about basement where one can find Chateau Margaux, and can’t afford it (but it’s nice to know it’s here, close by, even for looking at and holding, right?) Tiffany’s has some bottles of Chateau Musar, a fine and moody red made in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, a wine that demands its timed to mature — fifteen years or so. They had a 99 and 2000, but both are far too young.  Drink it before that, driven by impatience, and you will swallow rocket fuel.

News tonight of a friend failing in the hospital has lain a pall on everything, made time stop, led us to think back to other, happier times filled with future. Like the ad copy says, “Life Comes At You Fast.”  Live every moment like it’s your last, because it just might be. Over.

Cardinal Tree
Wood Doe
The "secret" cellar at Tiffany's
Da REALLY good stuff!
Bold Red. Enjoy the color.

Winter Days

Ghost in flight?
Ghost in flight?

My friends all know I find nearly everything about winters loathsome.  Except…some days when the ice forms, you get some wonderful shapes to look at.  That and watching my 80-pound mouser at work. Today I’m sharing ice, so to speak and a bumper sticker my son saw in town, which reads:  “If guns kill people, does that mean pencils misspell words?” Hope that brings a smile. Enjoy the pix. Over.

Or sperm rising?
Could use this to draw blood to check my sugar.
Nature's complex forms
Stalactites
Eighty pound mouser, pounces like a wolf.
Udderly ice?

Can I Keep the Horns?

One of my good CO friends sent me a note telling me about videotaping a confession of a violator who shot an eight-point out his truck window. When the guy finally confessed, he broke down emotionally and began sobbing and wanted a HUG!  The guy has a passel of kids at home and had given away all the meat, but predictably, he wanted to know if he could keep the horns? The answer was no. True story. For the record, horns and antlers are not synonymns, and no, my friend didn’t correct the man. He did, however assent to the hug.

I swear this antler fixation is a serious psychological disorder in some hunters.

I laughed out loud over this one. Hope you do too. Over.

Minkies, Bears, Le Coeur Sur Glace, Girlie-Shtuff, Unt Poop Mitt Hair

Mr. Minkie Close-up
Mink on R Avenue

Last week we found deer tracks that cut into the street in front of the house. I backtracked where they came out of neighbor’s Art’s back yard, something obviously having spooked them out of their bedding area. We’ve seen them take the same route in broad daylight. In this case Shanahan was barking at 0700 at something loose in the street and we told him to can it. Obviously he was alerting us to the deer. Got to learn to pay better attention to our mutts. Later that day we found a pile of fresh coyote poop on the walk and tracks indicated it had crossed north and might very well have been the cause of the deer boogeying that morning. There are so many stories out in the snow, if you take the time to learn and to look.

Friday night we went to dinner at at restaurant called Bold and I presented the owner, Shane Sheldon, with a bold photo, befitting the joint’s theme. I showed this painting at its start recently, but now you can see the finished produce, which is three by four feet.

Saturday we walked in a mall to escape icy ways, and even shopped a bit. I am always amazed by weird commercial names, jeans called Hydaulic? Made in China no doubt, but connotating what, pray-tell? And who among us could pass up red belly mannikens? We have red belly woodpeckers in our woods. My undisciplined mind wonders if the are related.

Meaning.......?
Red Bellies Galore

Sunday Jambe Longue had to water plants for her friend who snowbirds in Florida, so we drove out to the Pileated Forest and she watered plants while Shanahan ran the woody hills  for a while. On the way to Asiago’s for a cup of chili we stopped to examine a road kill I’d roared past on the way to the lake. Looked like a mink (M. vison) and in fact that is what it turned out to be. No marks of violence on it, but the white markings around the face came as a bit of a surprise. Turns out there are two kinds of mink, our American critters and a European version which is in decline. Usually when I see a mink, it is swimming past me on a river, with a brook trout it its mouth, rubbing it in, so to speak. I’ve read that rabbits are a favorite food for minks, so I’m guessing this one was out after a bunny. No wounds so we have no idea how it died, but it made for a good opportunity to stop and photograph road-killl. Of course I have no shame. What’s the point? Noseyness in the woods is a way of life.

At the lake near the Pileated Forest someone had foot-stomped a heart into the ice, the heat of love enduring even in winter in the rust belt. It deserves a photo and homage.

Le Coeur Sur Glace
Bear With Attitude
Dead mink in the middle of R Avenue

Bold

Dinner tonight at a fine new area restaurant called, Bold, run by Shane Sheldon, who played soccer for me many, many moons ago. The name derives from the establishment’s concept which is “plain food, bold flavor.” It works. Boy does it work! Located at Texas Corners in Texas Township, west of Portage. Check it out if you’re in the area. But better get a reservation for dinner. My guess is that it’s gonna be packed on a regular basis.

Also tonight a 2007 photo from pals Ed and Claudia Kulnis from their cabin on the Au Sable. I stopped in for a glass of vino, and  to check on one of my paintings; Claudia served as my personal tour guide. It’s nice to know where your paintings are. Enjoy. Over

Bedroom fish on the Au Sable