This batch should complete the Cable Lake jaunt.
DAY 148, SATURDAY, September 27, 2014, ALBERTA — This was one of those fly-by weeks, gone in a flash, marked by the turn of the equinox, no more hummers, two wolf sightings closeby, and 750 miles in the Green Streamer. Lonnie just woke up after 10 hours in the sack. I am wearing her out, she alleges.
Tuesday we did an all day local tour, from Michigammee up through Herman and all over the Baraga Plains and such. Wednesday we shot over to the Porkies and Silver City to see our friend Jackie McMullen, bounced our way around the South Perimeter Road and went on south and west to Ironwood for a few hours.
Thursday we pounded the rocky roads of Cable Lake and North Iron county in search of moose, but found only one set of tracks.
Yesterday we were up and rolling early and drove up to Brockway Mountain to have a color-gander there, with stops to hunt agates (we found some small ones), and to sign book stocks in Copper Harbor, grab a lunch, and hit one more mine dump heading back, where we found nada and were too damn tired to do the hammer work. We ended with a stop at the Woodn’n Spoon in Mohawk, drilled on to Houghton, then came down the back roads to Chassell. Unbelievable weather. Indian Summer: How long till some lumpwad wants to change that term as politically incorrect?
I see that the feds are now proposing to charge folks a $1500 license for photographing federally owned wild lands. Even smart-phone- pix of the wife and kids. Ridiculous. Been my feeling for a long time that people controlling our national parks and wilderness areas would be most happy with nobody going into the areas. Teddy Roosevelt must be rolling in his grave.
Our rudes are gone. I should explain. We call hummingbirds, ‘rudes, shor for Evinrudes, which is what they sound like when they are at the window feeders or you are sitting outside with them. We had 11 of the little ladies on Sunday, and none since, our count from their arrival to departure ISYN, 32,520. Next year will tell if this was an inexplicable freak season, or, as we surmise, we are located in superb breeding and nesting habitat. It’s been fascinating to have them around in such plenitude and everyone whose visited has been blown away by the traffic. Ah well, another sign of summer’s end.
Colors up this way area now changing furiously and in some microclimes the colors seem past peak and into the brownout and down to the ground phase. Can’t say if this is a normal color season either, this being our first extended one on this side of the UP. Lots of animal and plant signs of fall coming in. Hear signs down in Kalamazoo as well.
One of the sadnesses of this place (the UP) is how few kids we see up here, visiting with adult guides. It’s almost all grayhairs. Yesterday and our day in the Porkies we saw very few Michigan plates. Almost everyone on the road was from somewhere else. Not sure why this is. Up at Lake of the Clouds we encountered a small flock of Mandarin-speakers, all of them in flimsy fabric baseball caps, wearing designer sun glasses, and all carrying fold-up metal canes, all white in color. Looked like a pack of Chinese-speaking blind mice. Eash also carried a back camel for hydration purposes. Given that the distance from the water fountains at the parking lot to the viewing overlook was 200 yards through the woods, I guess it’s possible dehydration could happen, but it seems a little on the doubtful side. They wer all wearing identical running shoes (I first wrote sneakers, changed it to tennies and changed it again to running shoes; in Europe the shoes would be called trainers. I’m not picking on the Chinese folks. We saw lots and lots of camelbackers up in Copper Harbor and saw many of that raw brocoli-for-breakfast crowd of human rabbits on bikes and afoot. Also so many gents in their sixties and seventies in restaurants who keep their baseball caps on throughout the meals. At least the Chinese takes theirs off. Obviously my generation didn’t get raised so well on table manners by the so-called Greatest Generation. Or there is something afoot I’m not aware of. There is no doubt however some kind of group-think sweeping our country, group runs, group walks, group reads, all good things, but why do we have to operate in crowds and not alone? Very strange. It’s as if Americans cannot be out of contact with others. Isn’t Facebook an extension of this concept? My idea of Hell is a group tour somewhere, even with friends.
Shaksper has been thoroughly enjoying his multiple scent experience of the past week but he is worn out from so much Green Streamer guard duty.
Am not working on final plans for patrols with COs around firearm season. A Saturday start this year. Been awhile since one of those. I won’t say where I’m working until deer season is over and I have photos to share. It is always an interesting time, not the most important time statewide for COs, but for most COs.
That’s the weekly roundup. Now to BUCKULAR DYSTROPHY, Grady Service’s tenth sortie, to be out fall of 2015.
MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN, Lute Bapcat’s second itteration could not be found in bookstores in Copper Harbor. Lots of copies of earlier books, but no MOTM. Not sure why…
Last night I got an email from a gent from Nevada, (formerly from West Branch MI). he informed me that the cordite smelled by characters on pp 273 and 433 “is not possible.” He explains: Cordite was specifically a British invention used by them from 1891 but discontinued in small arms during WW2. it was never loaded in the .44 mag or the 7.62×39 cartridges.”The smell of cordite,” he continues, “is a cliche with mystery writers possibly started by mid-20th century British ones, but those chaps are the only ones to use it legitimately. He concludes, “Please substitute the smell of burnt powder or some such equivalent in the future.” Such inaccuracies, he concluded “sets a true gun crank’s teeth on edge every time we see it.
I appreciate the technical input and will look into it an as COs say, take the necessary action. Of course I can’t really do anything until I bet back BTB to my books to see what he’s talkign about and decide what exactly to do. For now his note goes into the errata file. The book in question on this one was KILLING A COLD ONE, not the hardback original for last year, but the soft cover edition from this fall. I was fascinated by the writer’s use of the term “gun crank,” which is new one to me and I shall be looking at it’s roots, and may even use this in a future book. I wonder if all “true gun cranks use Britishisms like “chaps?” and if this is some sort of linguistic twist brought on by firearm proximity. And what is a “true” gun crank vis a vis other gun cranks. So many questions.
All from Above the Bridge in Baragastan for the moment. Last night I listened to Baraga play L’Anse in h.s. football and my favorite kid announcers were doing the game. I never listen to the games down below, only up here. We have more than a month remaining in our time here and intend to enjoy it to the fullest. Enjoy the photos that follow. I’ll split them into two blogs, rather than one long sucker. Over.
On the road most of the day for quick color touring. Photos follow. Our wolf was back in the same spot on Ford Lake tonight. Guess it likes the view.
Walked over to Ford Lake last night, and Jambes Longues spotted something on a shore and we looked closer. It was a wolf, checking out the lake, about a hundred yards east of us, and we had the wind. Very cool. We love being close to wildlife, even the bears pooping in our yard.
Here are photos of my first “book” and venture into the publishing arena. Called THE ABC’s OF SNOWMOBILING. Published by Stenglein Printing of Marquette in 1970. My pals Okie Brumm and Dewey St. Cyr thought it might be a fun project, so i whipped up toons, we printed it and sold copies for a buck per. Not many of these still alive. This one belongs, I believe to Mike Vairo, who loaned it to John Stevens, our 46 ARS colleague, who dropped it at Snowbound Books for me to pick up. I love how we move stuff around in the UP. It’s like the pony express from Kansas to the coast, all done the old fashioned way, hand to hand. Cool. Over. PS, you prolly won’t see this one on my book resume. It’s my only cartoon book.
Day 131, Saturday, September 20, MARQUETTE — Another fine day. Color is gorgeous around Michigamme and Ishpeming and just getting going here. We stopped in Humboldt at the BP to get Lonnie a cold drink and there was a loose dog, a flat coat retriever, who looked like a cross between our late Shanahan and his late cousin, Bogey. The BP people called the owner, Lon put a leash on the dog and we waited. Turns out her name is Loretta, she is indeed a flatcoat and 13 years old. The guy who owns her has six acres and sometimes she gets to chasing things or just decides to mosey down to the BP to panhandlge snacks. Happens so often they have his phone number on the wall by the cash register. He said the Loretta has Alzheimers, which I had never heard of in a dog, so checked it out when we got home and here’s what I learned: “This condition, once called the senile or old dog syndrome, is a newly recognized disease, somewhat similar to Alzheimer’s disease in people. In dogs with cognitive dysfunction syndrome, the brain undergoes a series of changes that result in a decline in the mental faculties associated with thinking, recognition, memory, and learned behavior. Fifty percent of dogs over age 10 will exhibit one or more symptoms of cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Cognitive dysfunction is a progressive disease with increasing signs of senile behavior.
Disorientation is one of the principal symptoms of cognitive dysfunction syndrome. The dog appears lost in the house or yard, gets stuck in corners or under or behind furniture, has difficulty finding the door (stands at the hinge side or goes to the wrong door), doesn’t recognize familiar people, and fails to respond to verbal cues or his name. Hearing and vision loss must be ruled out.
From the dogscue we went to Marquette to see B-I-L Mike Phillips and wife Claudia and their new golden retriever. Great signing with Dana Schulz and crew at Northbound. Bob Kalbfleisch came in to get books signed for my old coach Ed Jarvie and former Rudyard Bulldog teammate Dan Riordan. Don Mattson dropped in to show off his new pacemaker. And Jack Schneider came in to give me a report on his dad, Corky, a famous VCO in Iron Co. It was like Old Folks Home Day Dana pointed me at a bagful of books and we brought a bag of new far back to Alberta. I may be speaking at the Library in Lake Linden in October, details when and if they materialize. John Stevens, you book is autographed and waiting for you. Just call Dana. Hope to catch you next spring when we do a signing on HARDER GROUND. And Lonnie saw a peregrine falcon near the bookstore; ironically her sis Mary just saw one yesterday in the Portage-Kalamazoo area. Lonnie was blown away by the bird’s speed. And to top it all off, fan, and fly fisherman Leo Smith of Marquette brought me his version of the snowfly for my collection! Very cool. Over.
Have to share this. Thanks to Annie Brezek for sending it along. Only in da yoop, eh.\
Thursday, September 18, 2014. This is a typical day of writing for me. I’m three days into a short story I’m calling “Unmoored Souls.” It’s set in April, 1945 when an SS officer turns himself in to Patton’s troops and offers to trade everything he knows about the Nazi prison camp business in exchange for protection for himself, his direct reports, and all their families. He tells the Americans that a former inmate is loose and methodically and systematically murdering former camp personnel. The Americans have only just liberated Buchenwald and one of its satellite camps.
These then are the premises, or general circumstances of the story, a precis on the collision that creates dramatic tension. You have mass murderer wanting protection from a “small-time” murderer, a flip-flop on reality of the past few years in those times. The actual story, of course, will come from the interplay between the main character and others in the cast. Having gotten this all into my head and started the story I then realize how much I know that I don’t know (to use a Rumsfeldian doublethink concept on it). That is, when exactly did the American people learn about Buchenwald? What color ink was used on inmate’s tattoos, blue, red, what? Was everyone tattooed on the same arm or did this vary between camps? I need only a few details to provide an authentic feel to what is distinctly a time piece. Not any fact or detail, but just the right ones.
First sweep into the story I put it down third person, but this gnawed at me. This is a story that deals with values and principles, not actions so much as thoughts and moral questions. I went back and redid the 25 pages, converting to first person, with the protagonist, Danny Gold, talking to his diary about what is going on, what is happening to him, the decisions and acts he faces.
I rewrote all that I had and now the draft, all handwritten, of course, is approaching forty pages. No idea how much longer. Stories have their own timers and this one will tell me when I’ve hit the conclusion.
The thing is, I’m a short story expert nor an aficionado of the form. The short story seems to me to be closer to a poem than to a novel. Why? It demands the same efficiency and tautness that good verse requires. It also requires dramatic tension, some form of conflict or collision that in real-life terms may not seem so dramatic. It’s my job to make the conflict real and compelling for the reader.
Think about this: People tell stories all the time, every day, to everyone from kids to lovers, to foes. If you listen to the best story tellers I think you’ll see that they are extremely precise in images and word selection, that instinctively they need to get the words right to make the story have the effect they want it to have. Probably they’ve told the same story many times and each time they edit it a little, like standup comics working their material in clubs in drips and drabs. Verbal story-telling, out-loud telling is a performance art. Writing a short story is different in that all the performance and sound tricks and gestures and nuances have to come through the writers’ pens and their word order choices. One thing we have to do is get rid of so-called speech whiskers, those bits of language which have been so over used they no longer have any meaning and serve only as sounds and clumsy time-buyers. I’m talk about words like, “so,” “you know,” “well,” “yeah,” all those things that slow down the telling and do not push the story forward.
More importantly when you are standing listening to a story teller, the sound of umm takes you out of the story and reminds you that you are hearing it from a teller, rather than living the story from inside the telling, the art that great story tellers all share. With a short story I seek to do the same thing, to get you inside the head of the character and stay there, with no clumsy reminders that it’s me telling the story. It is never easy. But it is great fun, especially when I can get it to work.
This afternoon we’re going to let Shaksper run amok in the fenced compound behind Dave Stimac’s workshop, and while the dog naps afterwards, we are going to hump up to the top of Blackberry Hill and explore the two-tracks way up high. This will give the writing time to percolate and settle into my deep brain. Tonight I’ll come back to it with a fresh look not just at what’s already on paper, but what I will add tonight.
We are pushing 140 days up here and this is pretty typical of the writing day. I’ve just recently had requests from Kingsley, T.C., and Roscommon for readings/signings. I’m still looking at my schedule and logistics. We are a long way from everywhere up here. Over.