Twenty Early Morning Musings

1) Da UP she’s an aging whore, her best days consigned ta days of yore.

2) Da Britch went up in fifty nine, deepened da old girls gradual decline.

3) No more copper, no more iron, no more miners, closed up mines, only a few pulpies hanging ’round Engadine.

4) Got no jopps nor industry, people wed ta social security.

5) Winters we call clear and still means snowbanks above da window sills.

6) Global warming, 90-degree days, youse’d t’ink we could grow more den spuds n hay.

7) T’ings dey changin for da worse, wimmens wearin’ pants, mens carrying purse.

8) Way back when we ate like kings: string cheese, smelt, cudaghi, Trenary Toast, morels and walleyes prized da most. Pasties, brook trout fried in da pan, venison served on da table all year round, some of it legal, much of it poached by our old man.

9) Dis UP ain’t what she ustabee, chalk dat up ta CNN and MTV.

10) Ustabee youse could smoke in town, but  hey! dose damn trolls downstate dey vote dat down.

11) When I was kid on saturday night, we go to bar watch polkas and fights.

12) Now Yuppies stop in Seney in dere Volvo, ask they can order designer martinis, makes we want to barfo.

13) Got dose condos down Marquette harbor, Brevort, Hancock, Epoufette, we all shake our heads, ask what da heck!

14) Girls up here got beaucoup smarts (not ta mention udder real nice parts). Eighteen comes and high school’s done, dey leave da Yoop on a dead-out run.

15) Outlaws down da Garden grow dere mean-green grass, so much THC in dat stuff  knock youse on your arse.

16) Wolfies eatin’ all da deer since da bloody DNR brung ’em here.

17) Tribes dey got casinos all over da place, take all yer cash wit smiles on dere face.

18) We love dose Red Wings, dat’s a fact, but dose sadsack Lions can never be our Pack.

19) Businesses closin,’ schools shut too, what’re we Yoopers ‘pose ta do?

20) Close da straits, block da locks in Saults, charge t’ousand bucks a day ta come up here ta play — and dat includes youse.

All in fun. Sort of. Over.

Drum-Thumping Set

Tomorrow night starts the drum-thumping time of year — when I go out and sign and talk about books. Back next week with some sort of photo record of events. Shanahan got his stitches out this past week, leg looking good (if a hairless chickenleg on a newfie-flatcoat can look good ).  Our mama cardinal continues to sit on her eggs. Her latest photo follows the text.  Phoebes in the far back yard are nested too. And we have baby squirrels in hollow of a tree in front yard. Redtail hawk is on her next over by the trail. I hear from up north that bug hatches are popping early and I wonder if this early popping phenomenon from warm weather also will affect mammalian behavior, e.g fawns usually seen around Memorial Day. Earlier this year, mayhaps? We should have babies anytime soon. When we had heavy rains this week I watched her hunker down and stick with the job. She might be a good lesson to all of us in a lot of situations.

Mama on the Job

Loose Moose-Goosing

Late last night CO Jason Wicklund of Iron County got a call of a moose-truck collision, so he boogeyed right-quick to the scene north of Cable Lake on US 141. Once there he called for a flatbed and could hear another moose bellowing in the marsh.   Then a smaller moose ran across the road just in front of the accident scene. The dead moose was cut up, the meat salvaged, and donated this morning to needy families in the county. I have yet to see a moose on the hoof in Michigan. I’ve seen lynx, bear, elk, wolves, but no moose so far. Much as I want to see one, I do NOT want to goose one up close like this one. Seems like a COs’ jobs are  never done: they just sometimes run out of hours.

Drive carefully everywhere, all the time, but especially in elk and moose country. It ain’t like schmucking a 150-pound deer, sportsfans.


Another view

Goosed moose no longer loose.
What the moose leaves behind.

Springing Along

Years ago:  God and I were on a several-day fishing expedition up north and noticed an old homestead (abandoned — only a foundation remaining). Surrounding the ruins was a gigantic umbrella of lilacs — and we heard it calling our names. So… we each took a coupla sprigs and brought them south and replanted. Took six or seven years for mine to bloom, but now they stand nearly nine feet tall (from 8 inches!). And this year they are early. By my backyard timetable, I’m guessing they’re  two weeks early; usually the lilacs pop around Mother’s Day. But my peonies are also rising quickly, and growing at inches per day. Usually these characters  don’t bloom until my eldest son’s birthday in late May, but I’m guessing they’ll have flowers not too long after Mother’s Day. The photo captures a lilac blossom after the rain. It rained here most of the weekend and everything is vibrant green. Enjoy. Over.

Lilacs Dripping Raindrops

Like Noir?

Looking for an author to read?  Try Ken Bruen, who writes mega dark (noir), violent cop novels set in the UK and Ireland. The characters are great, the chemistry of urban cops perfect in a lot of ways. His work is spare in words, big in image, with great characters, continuous movement and crisp spot-on dialog and images that often make me laugh out loud. One of my sons brought one of Bruen’s books to another of my sons —  only the old man ganked(intercepted/borrowed)  it mid-transaction and I’ve read three since last week (Once Were Cops; The Guards; The White Trilogy).  All of the works were and are  originally published in Europe. My kids are great book people and sometimes they even share with the old dude.


Catching Up With Catching Up

Okay, I’ve been digging in my files, ergo: In a place near here, now razed and turned  wild turkey-cervid pasture, in a time long long ago when employees were openly and publicly declared  assets (and treated like it), there came a sharp-tongued new CEO who kept ordering all his minions to be “Better Than the Best.”  Most people who heard this slogan reacted with blank stares or turned pale. Word has it there was some associated retching as well.  People wondered, Geez, how can one be Better than the Best? One of my colleagues back in those ancient times just happened to get a note from a pal, who was totally unaware of the BTTB mantra and it hauntingly seems to have answered the question of how one becomes BTTB.  I share it now for all of us to hold close to our hearts when the various leaders in our lives lose control of language and exhort us to meaningless and unmeasurable levels of pseudo achievement. This is a strictly mathematical viewpoint…it goes like this: What makes 100 percent? What does it mean to give MORE than 100 percent? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100 percent?We have all been to meetings (too many of them) where someone wants us to give over 100 percent.For a change, how about we achieve 103 percent? Is it even possible? Here’s a little mathematical formula that might help you.

If  A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z is represented as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20-21-22-23-24-25-26, then:

H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K  or 8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98 percent.

K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E therefore is 11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96 percent.

But, A-T-T-T-U-D-E, that is 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5= 100 percent,

And, B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T, 2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20= 103 percent.

AND, look how far A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G will take you: 1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118 percent!

Therefore, one may conclude with mathematical certainty that while Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, it’s the Bullshit and Ass Kissing that will put you over the top.

Back in my AF days when things were dark and getting dark our unofficial squadron philosophers would give a wave of the hand and declare  dismissively, “What they gonna do to us, put us on alert in winter in Goose Bay…Oh wait, we’re already here.”

Trout season opened today. I didn’t get out. I am filing. Your read right. Filing now for six straight days. Jambe Longue retires in June and we have to prepare for the deluge of her files!

Next Friday night at 1730, there will be a book signing at Kazoo Books Parkview Annex in Kalamazoo.

Saturday 1100-1400 we will be in Midland for a book signing at Little Forks Outfitters  downtown Midland.

And Saturday night, it will be 1830 autographing, remarks, refreshments,  and Q&A with Friends of the Mary Johnston Memorial Library at the NE Arts Building  in Standish, Michigan.

Stop by and shoot the breeze, feel free to buy bunches of books for your friends.

Official publication date isn’t until May 4, but the book is in stores now, and  today I got a nice note from Jim Lorenson, President of Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, himself a former Michigan DNR VCO: “Just finished Shadow of the Wolf Tree. Another great story.” Thanks for the note, Jim.

Yah, that’s what we like to hear. Sometimes some words from some persons  are just right.

CO Reid “Captain Furious” Roeske of Delta County recently passed to me a sheaf of conservation officer reports dating back to the early 1950s. Reid’s family hales from Wisconsin (we don’t hold that against him), but they had a hunting camp near Trout Creek and one day when someone was remodeling they found all these reports inside a wall. I will put excerpts of the reports in the blog from time to time to give us a flavor of what the CO job was like more than a half-century ago. Thanks for the reports, Reid.

There was a brief memorial for Rusty Gates today at the Lodge. I still can’t believe he’s gone. Too damn young, too damn soon.


Turks Aplenty & Pinks Don Green

Word from Father Rob Howe of Bad Axe with a photo of his Tom, 9.5 inch beard, taken three miles from town.

Also word from Warden-Mike Holmes (DNRE Ret) that wife Colleen got her second turkey in two years, hers with an eight-inch beard, and was shot at fifteen feet, somewhere in Dickinson County (I’m guessing). Pretty good calling from husband-guide who fancies himself exceptional in that regard. Colleen is exceptionally mute on the subject . Nice to see people out enjoying Michigan’s bounty. I can remember when there were no turkeys in Michigan and now, thanks to the DNRE, they are all over the place.

Also here today, photograph of Michigan State lacrosse-men wearing pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness. The game and associated activities earned $4,500 for the Ingham Regional Breast Care Center. Congrats to the Spartans, just back from a western tour, losing to No. 2 Colorado State, and to  No. 9 Colorado. Next up: No. 1 ranked Michigan, game to be contested at East Grand Rapids High School, April 24. College sport has come a long way since my day when figuring out where to get our next keg of beer took up most of our time away from the practice and game fields. Community Service is a good thing for everyone.

Colleen's 2010 Tom
Fr. Rob's 2010 Tom
Green Goes Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness

More Historic Law Tidbits

This comes from the 1911 State Game, Fish and Forestry Warden’s report, William R. Oates. In his report he recommended:

* A resident hunters’ license. Before this, there had been none for state residents and initial passage of the law required you have a license only to hunt outside your county of residence.

* Deputy wardens (conservation officers) to be moved under Civil Service (as opposed to political appointments), and per diem increased to a range from $2.50 – $4 a day (up from a straight $3).

* Establishment of a non-resident fishing license. Non residents already paid $25 to hunt deer and $10 for small game, but the State’s Warden thought they also ought to pay for fish; at the same time he recommended reducing the brook trout daily limit to 50 fish. Yep, you read right: 50 brook trout. Geez.

* The Deer season opener to be changed from October 15 to November 10.

* Hunters be limited to one male deer with horns. There was an estimated 23,000 deer hunters afield in 1911 and they killed 12,000 deer, but added  the state warden, “This does not count the number of deer killed by wolves.” In fact the DNR had absolutely no idea how many wolves were in the state or how many deer they killed.  Of all the state’s wildlife back then, deer was king, and would remain so for a long, long time. Bears were considered pests, could be shot any time and without a license of permit. Wolves, coyotes (which had drifted in from Minnesota and Wisconsin), bobcats and lynx were considered vermin and to be exterminated. We succeeded with wolves for a few decades and came real close with lynx.  The report made no mention of winter kill of  whitetails.

* Abolish the spring shooting of water fowl, and shore birds.

Missus Laney: Love Birds and Old Birds

Can’t remember if I mentioned that our cardinal couple is back in the next just beside my easel. Everyday she flies out for awhile and her mate meets her and feeds her. Jambe Longue got a photo of them, which I share. Meanwhile former MSU lacrosse teammates Nose (Goalie Chet Grabowski) and Wags (Middie Dave Wagner) went to Boulder to see Michigan State play the University of Colorado. UC  won 10-5,  probably from the shock suffered by MSU players who got to see what old age may hold for them.

Love Birds
(Very) Old Spartan Birds of Prey, Wags (L) and Nose (R)

State Treasure

Randy Clarke in front of part of his Bay City Museum exhibit. Note the quote above him, attributed to conservation giant William Mershon.
Fresh ngumbo.
Nuclear habaneros. The recipe calls for only one, half of which is seeded before you finely dice the whole thing, plenty of spicy heat to the dish, you.

Last week I met James R. “Randy” Clarke of Pinconing. Randy is one of those uniquely multi-skilled folks who deserve official designation as a Michigan State Treasure. Champion decoy  and bird carver, (ducks, geese, songbirds, you name it!) historian, naturalist, hunter, fisherman and probably the most experienced Voluntary Conservation Officer in the history of the state. Soo-Boy Pete Malette (Sgt, DNR- Ret) and I drove over to Randy’s to check out his workshop, then went on to Bay City to the museum in town where Randy has created an amazing exhibit on the historical waterfowling camps on Saginaw Bay, and on the art of decoy carving.  Randy’s house is as loaded with books as he is with information. Pete said as a VCO Randy had more common sense and patience than any VCO or CO he had ever worked with in his career and was instrumental in making a lot of big cases. Pete belongs to a carving group that meets once a week at Randy’s workshop, where they pretty much “solve all the world’s problems.”  I share some photos of our visit, etc. I am always amazed by the wonderful folks around our state. Both being interested in DNR law enforcement history, Randy and I are now sharing information with long-term goal that eventually a book will be written about the state’s history and its conservation officers.

By the way, okra-chicken stew last night, with a little habanero to spice it up. Um-Um GOOOOOD! Did you know that the Angolan word Ngumbo means okra, and that’s where the word gumbo came from.

Randy and Fish Spear collection. Some of these Randy purchased at auctions, etc, and some came from DNR busts. Some of the spears very well engineered and innovative.
Decoy weights
More decoy weights.
Sample of the kind of ironwood that grows in Michigan. Great for walking sticks, etc.
Must be the sawdust, but the carver's take pride in their senses of humor. Here we see the workshop rest rooms. The women's is on cleared ground, while the men have to go back in the woods
How did that nail get inside that wood?
Oops, accidents happen in da shop, eh
"Depthometer" Back in the day, ships carried a device like this, which a leadsman pitched into the drink, then pulled upward to determine depth and "sang the depth" to the pilot. Note the hole in the lead, so that the weight would gouge the bottom and tell the leadsman what sort of bottom they had at that depth. Mark Twain meant mark two fathoms, a measurement taken with a device exactly like this one.
Note the little leather tags, all shaped differently, so the leadsman could tell by feel what depth he had. A fathom, by the way is six feet, So Mark Twain would be two fathoms or 12 feet.
Recuperating inmate, playing for sympathy.
View of the Workshop
another corner
World's Problem Solvers: Pete Malette (Left), Randy Clarke (Right).