News Flash From the Western U.P.

This hundred-pound wolf was hit and kileld by a vehicle yesteday (Jan. 27)  on US-45, south of Watersmeet. CO Dave Painter responded to the call.

Classic pose to exaggerate wolf size
Classic pose to exaggerate wolf size.

WOLF_017 WOLF_019

Reading Before the Ice

Ice storm predicted for evening, we had a great turnout in Portage today, where I read short stories and signed books. One ofthe days highlightw was seeing my old Fid’s Bar/Studio teammates and friends Bob Surdy and Tom Berghuis.

(L) Marsha McKenzie, our host from the Portage Public Library and old friend; and Gloria Visser, owner of the outstanding independent book seller, Kazoo Books.
Display for the event, presented by the Library.
Da Crowd…


Reading from short story collection.


Portage District Library

That Time of The Year

Winter garb always at arm’s length.

Snow, dreaded snow, but one member of da pack loves it.


Hey, this snow is way cool!
Hey, this snow is way cool!



Lake Effect

Saturday Night, Mostly Alive

File-fishing the past two days,  Day 9 of the cold, but the mend-trend is clear and upward now.

Scrips-Howard News Service reported, July 3, 1994 that Australian scientists studying the genetics of flower colors have identified a blue flower gene in the petunia and are in the process of transplanting it into roses.  Our neighbor Michelle puts something copper into ground at base of her hydrangea, and turns it a luscious blue, not genetics necessary. Wonder how the rose experiment is progressing.

Huckleberry Finn on corn.: “There ain’t nothing in the world so good when it’s cooked right.” And Huck didn’t even get to taste Michigan corn, the poor lad.

From the May 22, 1995 US News & World Report: The average human sperm cell is only 0.002 inches long. In last week’s nature scientists reported that a fly named Drosophila bifurca produces sperm cells more than 2 inches long – 1,000 times longer than human sperm and 20x the length of the fly itself. Maybe it’s because bifurca’s testes amount to 11 percent of the male’s dry body weight?  Jumbo sperm, noted the scientists, seemed to confer no advantage to the fly or may any evolutionary sense.

Wall Street Journal front page, March 13, 1995. Back in my day this page had the best written feature stories anywhere. The story  was written by Marcus W. Brauchli, the  Date Line,  HONG KONG–  It’s winter, when a lot of people are getting sick, and the Yat Chau Health Restaurant is jammed.

            Today’s lunch crowd is particularly demanding. Even before he eats, a 61-year-old retired truck driver complains of indigestion and dizziness. A 30-year-old messenger gripes as he sits down that he has lost his appetite and has been having stomach trouble for a week.

            Wong Ping-kwan, the restaurant’s thoughtful host, listens sympathetically and jots things down on an order pad. But unlike your conventional maître d’,Mr. Wong doesn’t recommend dishes, he prescribes them.

            Have swollen neck glands? Try chicken ands sea horse stew. Feeling dizzy? Perhaps some fried rice with wolfberries.

            To foreigners, such preparations might sound like snake oil. But they aren’t.Snake oil, Chinese herbalists say, is for sexual potency – and for restoring general health. Says Doris Ho, the manager of Singapore’s popular Imperial Herbal Restaurant: “Each year, I get there snakes, cut them, put the bile with wine and bam! Very good for the system.”

I once drank viper blood at a roadside stand near the jungle outside Jakarta. Can’t say I enjoyed it, and knowing you have ingested deadly venom does not make the pooch perky, if you get my meaning.

And finally I ran across an E-mail from God, my long-time fishing partner. Dated 9-21-94: Joe, Have you heard about the report in “Nature” that a team of U.S. Canadian and Singapore scientists have produced transgenic salmon that gre an average of 11 times bigger than a control group? Could you imagine 200-500 pound salmon? The biggest one was 37 times bigger than usual – maybe 800-1,000 pounds. Now, if they can just develop some 10-pound alewives… G.”

And remember you have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the starts are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out they are invisible.

I think of a line by  writer B.R.Myers that “a wild landscape can bestow epic significance on the lives of its inhabitants.” And then I think of the U.P. and think, yah-sure, youbetcha. Over.

Excerpts from College Entry Essays of 1980 High School Graduates

HS: Writing samples from Class of 1980.  And education is suddenly questionable? Could it be that by and large a large number of 17- and 18-yr-olds are not very competent at anything, and never have been? Just wondering out loud. Over.

“I believe that the people of Michigan have had it way to good and that it is time for us to put our priorities back into perspective and to live a little bit closer to the ground.”

“One of the changes I expect to see in my friends is more appreciation of the many luxuries we have at home which we approach departure from.”

“Among these four men lies our next President.”

“So upon reaching graduation I feel that I had success in not only the accedemic areas, but also in the non-accedemic areas. The feeling of accompolishmehnt was well-rought.”

“It has been far too long that we have been carrying this countries people on it’s back.

“I would like to stay in the state of Michigan because to me it has everything to offer in spite of riots, taxes, and other assorted odds and ends.”

“Virginity is rarely lost after marriage.”

“The topic of abortion touches many areas of misconceptions.”

“In the growth and maturity of my mind, and as I start to think more about my future, I believe living in Michigan will hinder or diminish my success.”

“Until such time tht Michigan has the unproper sphere of living and working conditions I shall deem it satisfactory for my needs.”

“Florida is the state which most associate with sin and women but not to relatives.” [Good, in-breeding ain’t for the faint-hearted.

“Guns or butter? It is a very serious question….I personally believe that the U.S. should use a 6:4 ratio in resolving this problem.”

Television can be used very effectively for teaching but hey, let’s all admit it who would watch a self development program if it was shown in the same time slot as Jonny Carson’s Tonight Show?”

“In the past it was thought that if a nuclear war ever got started, that the hole world would be blown up.”

“Maybe if mankind respected each others abilities rather than trying to compete with them we would be a happier group of people.” 

“However, if the youth of today are prone to sex and violence at great lengths of time social deviance could occur.”

“The answer to the ‘television craze’ of America is moderation, the two key words of the world.”

“There are good shows like the Waltons and Little House on the Prarie that most of us stick our noses up to, including myself, because they are too drab, not enough sex and violence.”

“TV is a good way of education, it’s just that shows are terrible.”

“Like as the violence increases on the programs it also increases in the real world, a long with out folkways, movies, and personal valuesl.”

“Up to this point my education has been a success in the area of curriculum that was required by my high school to take certain classes.”

“The sky during the day was so clear and blue that it made it easy to see all the thousands of stars at night.”

“When a child shoots his mother, kills his brother, or rapes his sister, that’s when it is time to make a change.”

“Taking your education and future seriously may better yourself for the rest of your life”

“Technology has accomplished everything from going into space to beating an egg while still inside its shell.”

“As America enters a new decade, visual changes become more apparent.”

“Understanding oneself and your world around them can only benefit.”

“We began watching television before we could speak or write a full sentence of English.”

“Many students from my school have never been to a large city and vice versa.”

“Education to me, goes beyond reading books and learning about the revolution of man.

“The people of today will change to become the people of tomorrow.”

“Time never stood still for a moment.”

“In a lot of television shows, everyone goes out with everyone else, and if things don’t work out for them they get divorced.”

“TV can succeed radio because you can see along with hear. And newspaper because you can take in more from watching, so I encourage it from all angles.”

“For the minor majority of the extremely wealthy, it is not a major problem as of yet.”

“That’s what influences me the most, when I take time out to sit down and listen to a candidates views instead of walking into the booth in November and pulling a lever that I know nothing about and electing him for President.”

Morning Thoughts

Day 8 of a pesky, annoying cold, but last night I slept almost normally, which suggests the virus is losing hold.  Pretty raree for me to get colds, which makes them more annoying,. So I am sitting here like a slug, reading mostly, and noodling stuff in the news and around me, including Facebook.  And having just finished Jon Meacham’ s Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Saul Cornell’s A Well Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origins of Gun Control in America, and Stephen P. Halbrook’s The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms, I have an idea. First point, we are talking about an amendment, not something in the original Declararation of Independence, but passed by Congress 12-15-1791. Twelve Amendments were proposed, only ten got ratified by the states.

What follows is the language from Congress:

* A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

* As ratified by the States and authenticated by Thomas Jefferson, Secretary of State: A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.[

Since then, of course, our Supreme Court has changed this to mean we all have a right to keep weapons for self-protection, which I supposed is implied in the original, a militia, if nothing else  being a collective  insturment of self-protection if you want to stretch the construal.

Since so many people are so damn strict constructionist about the amendment, how about Congress pass a law saying that only those firearms available in 1791 are now legal for all citizens?

Guy I know stopped at Cabella’s in Dundee yesterday, said line to buy guns was out the door into the parking lot. What the hell are we expecting? More and more as I read and listen I am thinking we have a large minority of people in our country who actually believe they will need weapons one day to fight our government. Sick and sad. Sick and sad. 

And how about the gun nuts getting off the screwed up readings of history on guns. Hitler banned guns for Jews, not for German non-Jews. Mussolini never banned guns, and so forth. If you’re going to be cute, at least be historically accurately cute.

Also the NRA ad about armed guards for the President’s children. I assume they mean Secret Service Agents and by this thinking shouldn’t all adults in America have armed guards around them? Boy. The4 NRA is about selling guns. period, never mind their baloney rhetoric. I like guns, like to shoot, used to like to hunt and still like the sport, but I have no use for a blatantly commercial operation masquerading as a friend of the people. Feel the same way about extreme environmental and animal rights cuckoos– all of these in the same category for me.

Then there is Sir Bozo Lance Armstrong. Seems to me we should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing our critical thinking to dissapate under all his glorious wins.  Most physical advances come in small increments, and thus when a single cyclist begins to dominate like never before, why do we not ask, what the hell is going on with this? Add to this the cycling federations must be pretty pathetic in their duties as well.

Or Sir Bozo Manti Te’o, the all galactic Notre Dame linebacker (until they met Alabama)  and all this baloney about a nonexistant girlfriend who died? Are we all nuts?  My nephew put the photo of a t-shirt on Facebook,  which sort of sums it up nicely. Maybe a cold isn’t all that bad.  I think mayhaps my cold has spiked my poritons of both curr and mudge.  By the way, the April 27 talk for Friends o the Library in Kalamazoo, is canx. Buget problems there. And my FRement appearance is moved from Thursday, April 11 to Thursday April 25.  Next out of the gate is the Portage District Library9 (home water, so to speak.) Jan 27 at 2 p.m. to be followed by a reception. After that– in February– it’s the art festival in Big Rapids. Over.


Shaksper, a Dog’s Tale

Shaksper Findeth Home

He be, we are quite certain,

Shanny’s younger sib

A cast away from far and geo curtain

Forsooth, I speak direct —  Him

Taken from Big Nap Streets

North to Mishawaka, there kept so sweet,

In grand company at the Land of Heart,

There be he, biding time,

When suddenly swoopeth down from the blue

A great green beast bearing these two

From North, a place where

Waters boil and books

Be enscrivened,

And thereupon he jump- ascended

(we hasten to add, unassisted)

Into the  Streamer Green, so well attended,

Away they flew

Like knights of old in search of grails

While skies tried to threaten hail

And all he left upon deposit

Were four great loads of vomit

Pools of new-minted  puke

For which we noteth came not one rebuke,

Nothing like Falstaff to Prince Hal,

“Thou common dog, didst thou disgorge

Thy glutton bosom…Wouldst thou eat thy dead vomit

Up? Nay, and nary a word along such line

Though dead vomit were lapped home in record time.

And thus cometh they  to Kalamazoo

[Which, must be said, is nowhere near Timbucktu.]

Now settle in these cozy three

To forge themselves into family

Until the snows abate in May

They will in the Green Dragon, anon and away

North so north, crosst the bridge

Through  verdant forests, over rocky ridge

Finally over crossing the Riviere de Deux Coeur

To Deer Park and Grand Old Gray Lady, Lake Superior

His name bringeth great inspiration

On Stinson land where dwells wolves and deer

He name today is Shaksper.

[Lest thou doubteth the spelling verity

Check your history to  reveal reality

Only four signaties, you see , survive extant

This being  one of four, let that be that and say no more.]

His name is cast forth in all due light,

His fate layeth before him

Let us pray his days be many,

His life vinegary-vim.

That he eat like a wolf

And remain eternally slim.

[Portage, January 11]

Sizing Up Each Other
Shakesper at Rest

Words That Summon

Reading along, I circle every word I don’t understand, later look it up, and sometimes this flow of new words causes me to invent new ones — to my liking.  Here’s an example, just from last night: wanderjahr, ecrevain, pneumatiques, petits bleu, potlatchiken, trimmer (this is an 18 C word that refers to people who pare back their consciences to meet the times), ususfruct, analog illiterate, chaosmos, literatus, scribomaniac, dolce far niente, librophiliac, zizi, anhedoni, sprezzatura, harridan, planche de salut, blageur, bybbe-mayses, hegiral, pacaro and the Portuguese saying: When shit becomes valuable, the poor will be born without assholes.” Or the last, deathhbed words of St. Thomas Aquinas: “All that (I) have written now seems to me like so much straw.”

And a new word, Shakespearacies (conspiracies about who wrote Shakspurr’s plays and poems). Who wrote Shakespeare’s plays? This is akin to Who is buried in Grant’s tomb. But that don’t keep our fellow ‘mericans from imagithinin’g shit done happened, sayin’?

Of all the fates one might hope for one’s book I aspire to an advisory to book stores: Ce livre ne doit pas etre expose en vitrine. Translation:  “This book may not be shown in windows.”

And a couple of thoughts from author Eric Jong, a very smart lady and creative person: “Every novelist must start with empathy and with great curiosity about people. In many ways, those qualities are even more important than language — important as language is.” She also tells us, “We are dust that dreams. And sometimes we dream we are more than dust.” She thinks about what inspires writers, and  tells us, “At the pivotal moments of our lives — passionate love, childbirth, war, terminal illness — we know we are captive to our physical natures and that humbling knowledge often brings illumination.”

What she said: Over.

Johnny Football and Bowl Season

Our pathetic (yet expensive)  TV cable service (misnomer)  has given us exactly one bowl game this season: OU vs. Texas A&M last night, my first look at Mr. John Manziel of A&M, redshirt freshman All American and  2012 Heisman winner, aka Johnny Football. He can play for sure. But all I could think, as I alternated reading a biography of Thomas Jefferson and watching the game, was a sort of rough-voiced poem,  recalling my football times at Longfellow Junior High School in Texas .

Baw-Bow’ Season

Old-time foobaw in hard snow broh,’

Slam- bammin’, cracky-crunchin’, yah

Lock yo arms, an’ them hands good-tight,

Break thet summabitch in half: Thump!

Ugh! See at boy sucking for air!

Mud in yewer eer, snot up nose,

Blood in yo piss and gap-tooth mouth,

The flavah uv metal.  This here

Like baitin’ bears in the way-back,

Get ’em down whatever it take,

Spote make character, make men tough

Spotesmanship too, no fist-fightin’

Like them Canuck ice hockey boys.

Portage, January 5, 2013



2012 Wildlife Count (2011 in Parens)

Sandhill Crane,1,108 I(638); Deer, 587 (798; Downy Woodpecker, 587 (408); Redbelly Woodpecker, 575 (332); Bald Eagle, 443 (471); Pileated Woodpecker, 321 (124); Turkey, 267 (201); Great Blue Heron, 249 (65); Hummingbirds, 220 (75); Dead Deer, 142 (148); Redtail Hawk, 139 (143); Northern Flicker, 135 (86); Jaeger,86 (none); Hairy Woodpecker, 94 (96);  Snowy Egret, none (42); Loon, 69 (100); Kingfisher, 44 (unk); Buffleheads, 34 (unk); Skunk, 33 (34); PAT,32 (49); Porkies, 28 (25); Ruby Crowned Kinglet, 25 (none); Greater Yellowleg, 20 (23); Cooper’s Hawk, 20 (23); Rabbits/Snowshoes, 18 (15); Racoons, 13 (2); Lesser Yellowleg, 12 (17): Bluebirds, 11 (12); Bears, 9 (8); Northern Harrier, 9 (11); Woodchuck, 8 (4); Hummingbird Moth, 7 (none); Osprey, 7 (17); Snakes, 7 (2); All turtles, 7 (14); Black Cormorant, 6 (none); Wolf, 5 (14); Evening Grosbeak, 5 (none);  Misc Hawks, 4 (none); Foxs,s 4 (3); Merlin, 4 (i9); Horned Lark, 4 (none); Golden Eagle, 3 (2); Muskrat, 3 (3); Northern Oriole 3 (7); Woodcock,3 (3); Pheasant, none (15); Possum,1 (none); Mink, 2 (3); Great Horned Owl, 1 (none); Barred Owl, 1 (2); Fisher, 1 (none); moose, 1 (none); cougar, 1 (none); Bobcat, 1 (none); Badger, none (1); Beaver, none (4); Bittern, none (9); Black Duck, 2 (1); Broadwing Hawk, none (2); Dunlin, none (18); Flying Squirrel, 1 (2); shortear owl, 3 (none); otter, 2 (9); gray jay, 2 (none); plua, 1 Carolina Wren, 1 Brown Creepr, 4 Horned Larks, 2 upland sandpipers, and 2 guinea hens.

Cougar and moose were big UP firsts, bears up by one, wolves down by 9, coyotes down 2. No pheasants becasuse no time spent in Menominee Co, which is best place in UP to see those. Over.