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19 Jun

Today’s Weather Report

This transcript just taken from midday weather report from Sue-Me Finnlander Radio– with its broadcats stackshun up dere Cowsit Lats,  up top da bick hill. ON CAMERA ANCHOR FINN: Toivo Maki ON-CAMERA WEATHER FINN: Eino Maki

Transcript:

ANCHOR:  Yah, okay dere, Eino, youse dere?

WEATHER; Yah, sure.

ANCHOR: Okey dere, youse got youse’s wedder preport?

WEATHER: Yah, I got.

ANCHOR: Well?

WEATHER:  Youse know, hey.

ANCHOR: Yah sure, i know, but youse tell udders out dere listen Finn Radio, where silence golden and words cost few bucks more.

WEATHER: Wedder she same old stuff dis time year, eh.

ANCHOR: Okay den, t’anks dere, Eino, eh.

WEATHER: Youse betcha, Toivo.

ANCHOR: Das wass da stackshun wedder Finn, my brudder Eino dere, eh. He’s one got bot’ hiss deer legal lass year, first time hever.

WEATHER: Hey dere Toivo. Licksinner Pipples gone get  licksin some muke-sick or youse blabber on, eh?

–30–

 

18 Jun

A Poetry-Making Day and A Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to my editor Keith Wallman, celebrating his birthday.  The poem does NOT flow from the photo.

Celebrating, Air Guitar and All.

Celebrating, Air Guitar and All.

 

Two Mongrels in the Snow in Greenwood Mo.

Neither distinctive, you’d never suspect

They carry ancient canis lupis blood,

Come along the same time every day,

Showing their domestic side,

A need for routine, predictability,

They splutter yellow splashes in my snow,

Bark as if auditioning for a paid gig,

Their duet a catchy cracky tune,

I invite them in, name them

Chateau Twins, Margaux and Lafite,

They seem to like this, being Ripple types at heart,

Not knowing Pince-Nez from Nez Perce,

My house once owned by a Quantrill Raider,

Named Christminister, pure coincidentia,

I see in my companions

Forlorn majesty (formerly known as hope).

They feel gravity’s pull of handouts,

Easy living, at least for one night,

A place to crash safely now,

Postpone major commitments beyond that,

To morning, after breakfast, wait-and-see types,

Like me, packs forming from far less.

(Alberta, MI, June 18, 2014)

17 Jun

Interviews and Such

Did a live, remote gig on radio today, show called “Big Sea, Shining Water” on WOJB-FM Community Radio out of Ashland, Wisconsin. In was interviewed by morning host Eric Schubring, and Lissa Radke, U.S. Coordinator of the Lake Superior Binational Forum, Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute, Northland College. At this age and with my background I’ve done thousands of these over the decades, first as spokesman for my USAF Wing, then as a corporate mouthpiece in a suit, and now for myself as an author.  Despite all this experience I always wonder how best to present myself in such opportunistic moments. Some authors come across with a halting,wait-I-need-the-exact-word(pearl)-posture. You’ve no doubt encountered this yourself, a series of time-buying uhs and ahs and grunts and sighs preceding what invariably turns out to be a perfectly polished stream of orderly, logical thoughts. It’s my own bias, but this sort of affectation tends to be most present in writers of academe, and in some preachers and pulpit pilots. Poets have a performance voice as well. It’s a conscious shift to a sort of stage voice that happens after they talk about a particular poem, then put their head down to read and launch into the lilting tone,k one that has always grated hell out of me because it sounds fake and affected. Seems to me that elevating your voice into a lilting singy-song neither improves the effect of  the words or metaphors you’ve selected. I’ve always thought poems should be read in a normal voice and the words and language and construction works its magic without some kind of enhanced boost. But that’s just me. Same with authors of prose,same deal. Just answer the question. In media training I always taught my students to not answer any question except ones they wanted to answer, but I try not to play those games in my professional life because the only people with stock in me are my family and friends and my share price and value is measured solely by sales.  Bottom line with TV and radio is that time is money, an invaluable resources and in my way of thinking if you’re the guest being interviewed you need to get your responses out clearly and quickly, rather than waste air time with ooh and ah, and uh and postured pauses to create the impression of deep, searching thought. My goal: Spit it out, son, spit it out.” Today’s interview with Eric and Lissa went well and having finished, the Alberta Village Pack (Lonnie, Shaksper, and I ) got into the Green Streamer and drove out to the Keweenaw Greenhouse to fetch up some of our potted order of veggies and herbs. The rest will be ready for us later this week. Because we are no past the “don’t-plant-until-after-the-first-moon-in-June dictum of local farmers, putting stuff on the deck should now be safe, barring marauding deer. We shall see. No more interviews scheduled until fall.  (Hear that, fish?). Attention to readers and fans down at the library in Presque Isle, Wisconsin. Drop me a note. We’re little over an hour away and should be able to work out a night with readers at your convenience this summer. Would have made direct contact, but a virus ate some of my computer earlier this year and I am still recovering. Over. Over.

14 Jun

More From The Back Woods

From a recent jaunt up into one of our fave spots in the  western Hurons. Over the years, and no matter the legal limit, I and we have never failed to limit out in two hours on this little river.

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13 Jun

Ford Plant Tour Continued

Here’s the last batch of tour photos. Heard it spit snow last night in Portage-Mattawan area. We laughed out loud.

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Da Boss’s boat.

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Employee Badge from the Pequaming Mill.

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A boy and his dream. Talk about resale value!

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Offshoot of the car biz. Still operating.

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Love this photo. Has everything but the smell.

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Logs begin journey to become lumber.

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Original memo from just under a month after I was born!

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Saw blades. My friend Max would love to have a couple of these.

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Looks like a takeout from the Edward Scissorhands rough.

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Looking east to where lumber got loaded for transport to end-users, etc.

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Doyle Scale measuring device, made in Michigan. Wonder how many of these are now in antique shops and at what price.

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North to south view of the Doyle Scale Gizzy.

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Old fellows playing with saws, and such.

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12 Jun

How It Is

Today is June 12. The time of the long days has gently engulfed us with warm dry days, cool nights, the promise of wild  berries soon to come,mayflies hanging in the morning air, brook trout rising loudly, their delicious red flesh there for the taking. As if yesterday, we saw no ice in Keweenaw Bay. Our own lake was still icebound when we arrived on May 3, as was the big bay and now our ice is gone as it is from the big water. There were small bergs and ice sculptings floating in the bay on Saturday. They looked almost gaudy in their showoffedness in lingering so late into the next season, not their own. 

Short as our nights are now, we are too lethargic in the dark to  crawl outside to drink star-shine and confirm that our pole star Polaris continues to patrol it’s tiny tight orbit over our heads. Our planet continues to spin on its own axis and orbit the sun, which creeps further north by the day, unnoticed by all but some farmers and old fishermen and aging navigators. The migrations are done, happened in waves, led by robins, then yellow legs, greater and smaller, various waterfowl, then legions of warbles in all hues of the rainbow and orioles and Keweenaw Canaries (goldfinches). They passed through  and stopped to eat and sing and cavort en route to some secret destination, reminding me of Shakspeare’s players out in the hinterlands before they achieved royal sponsorship (which then meant less reason to take their shows on the road, except when plague visited London and the road an eminently healthier alternative.) Hummingbirds and canaries  remain, but with the lilacs in full bloom there are fewer hummers  at our feeders. Wildflowers are popping everywhere and the little buzzers have ample nectar everywhere to choose from.

Last winter was a meteorological freaky phenomenon, extremely cold, extremely snowy, and extremely long-lived. Lake Superior was damn near iced over in its entirety something that hasn’t happened in a couple of decades. The grudging withdrawal of winter has left local people a bit loopy, as if the Germans finally decamped Leningrad and Stalingrad. Folks stand grinning in the sun, drinking the rays like air-born spirits, which is a sense they are. Gaunt, stunted deer venture onto the grounds and highway verges and it is even money if they will survive a second consecutive monster winter. This rounded hill country (not that much lower than Mts. Arvon and Curwood, the state’s highest points with only 11 inches difference. We are not more than 100 feet lower in our surrounds and some eight miles uphill and inland from the bay and L’Anse (and  just a few miles up the road from Bovine). The microclime here is known for cold, including our village of Alberta, and the nearby hill hamlet of Herman. We tend, even now, to be 20 or more degrees warmer than the bay-shore. In winter it is far colder and snowier up this way, and often this area is among the very coldest in the Yoop. With this past winter’s severity we have not yet seen a fawn. These are usually dropped in late May, early June. Biologists say the average winter up here takes 100 thousand cervid lives. A severe winter claims twice that and last winter was an awful one. How bad? There was a predator study being done in Iron County (just south of us) in which 43 fawns were collared last summer, to track through the year. Not one is alive now, all of them taken either by predators or weather since their collaring. The sun, as I said, is creeping northward.

The older I get, the more I appreciate my five years as an Air Force navigator. The opportunity to find my way around the world using centuries-old techniques and barely  modern adaptions of old instruments was challenging and satisfying as we winged across oceans at 500-600 knots. My friend, former high school sports foe,  fraternity brother, and Air Force crewmate (copilot)  will arrive later this month for a brief visit. It is ironic that I lived the nomadic life growing up and he grew up rooted in St. Ignace, and now I am the rooted one and he continues his nomadic, globe-trotting ways. The two local high schools (Baraga and L’Anse) have matriculated and celebrated their senior send-offs, and just last weekend L’Anse had it’s annual lake trout festival, including the Little Miss Lake Superior beauty pageant, which as conducted outdoors   in  rainy, mid-40 degree weather as the little contestants (ages 8-12) stood shivering in sandals and frilly party dresses for parts of the competition.

This weekend is Bridgefest in Houghton as various communities throw their shindigs to attract tourist monies. Winter of course is now far more lucrative for these Yooper communities, a flipper from my days pre-snowmobiles, when summer was king above the bridge. Still is in my mind. It just doesn’t bring in as much per capita lucre. The snowmobile era took off in the mid sixties, while I was in college. Shaksper turns in every night at 2100 sharp, looking  for the coolest, darkest room to sleep. Our schedule is loose. Lonnie and the mutt make a daily perambulation of the campus perimeter checking the progress of wild berries. There was wolf scat along the way as well and Shaks showed considerable balking at some unseen scent. There are two known packs here and we are on the spot where the two territories slightly overlap. But no tracks, no sightings and no howls heard thus far. The wild strawberries as of this morning are beginning to redden, meaning ripening is but days away. These will be followed by raspberries (razzies), blueberries (bloobs), blackberries (blackies), and thimbleberries. One year in Deer Park we had scads of blueberries into October. Thimbleberries are largely an August e event. Strawberries can ripen all summer. We found no morels and as usual guidance from locals is  largely lacking. 

We were loosely introduced to an older fellow a couple of days ago and when Lonnie revealed we were here for six months, he looked at me and said, “Doing what?” I told him, “Fishing, looking around, reading, the usual stuff,” and I could tell by his eyes none of the three were “usual” by his definition. The overwhelming hospitality of Yoopers continues as fresh cookies, rhubarb desserts and coho fillets arrive at our door. Such gifts are given with no expectation of reciprocation. They are given solely because the gives’ hearts direct them to give. Quite amazing, considering we are virtual strangers, but this reflects the beauty and depth of the collective Yooper soul. Lucky us to be  among such warm and welcoming  people.

Henry Ford built this little community in 1937 as a “model town.”  Seventeen families now live here full-time. It was then said to be located in a region of  “giant trees.” The village was named for Miss Alberta Joan Johnson, daughter of Ford’s Iron Mountain superintendent. The first logging took place in the summer of 1936 ( no doubt for lumber to build the village); most logging takes place in winter. Ford built a dam and a 50-acre lake on the property (the lake having been known as Plumbago, Ford, and Alberta Lake at various times over the past 60 years). The village and surrounding forests were given to Michigan Tech University 60 years ago this summer. There will be a celebration of the event this August. The campus is part of the Forestry department. 40 students will be here August- November. It will be fun to meet them and learn what sorts of things they are up to.

Dave Stimac, the current Maintenance Guru here was in 1981  the head sawyer for the Ford plant, which closed that year. He now takes care of this place and makes bird’s eye furniture on the premises. he grew up in Trimountain, and graduated from Painesdale HS in 1971. In my high school days (10 years before Dave graduated)  we used to drive over here to play basketball against the Painesdale Jeffers High School Jets. Small world. Dave told me that in 1994 he started the plant back up for a day so that various people could film the plant operation and equipment for posterity. He said it all started easily and ran like a top.

He also related how convicts used to work at the mill and sometimes he would drive over to the minimum security prison to fetch them back to work, usually ten men at a time. But one night ten turned nine, the cops were called and a manhunt begun. It turns out that the man had hidden himself in some inner recess of the mill and after the cops came and dark set it, he went over to the office building, got into the safe, grabbed cash and beat it…. To Sidnaw where he was discovered by troopers that night drinking. Talk about a powerful drive for drink and freedom. Sidnaw (locals prounounce is Sid-na) is all of 15-16 miles from where I type this. Had there been a closer tavern he no doubt would have decamped there. And there is the story of the county’s Nature Boy, also called the Human Cormorant, who was crazed about fishing and fish and lived withi his girlfriend Peaches. But that’s for another time. The characters I hear about up here is wonderful and only adds to the fabric for stories. The photos that follow are  the first dozen from yesterday’s self-guided tour of the old Ford Sawmill.  Will post more tomorrow or the next day. Very cool. Enjoy. Over. 

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All I could think when I saw this old photo in the mill was “Indian Band.”

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Reflections of the past.

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Tools of the Trade

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The tool shed, where you drew your equipment for the day’s work.

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Visitor’s Log, Stardate….

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Saw blade is roughly four feet in diameter.

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Ice saw on the left.

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She tried to convince me we need an anvil this size for her jewelry work. I said, “Carry it out and it’s yours.” It’s still there.

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More tools and gizmos.

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This wooden frame is from gliders made down in Kingsford during World War 2.

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Admiring an old cast iron stove, enameled like a faded robin’s egg.

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The main boiler from a railroad engine, which powered a lot of the plant’s equipment.

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The old belt closet. The belt on the bottom is about 12 inches in width.

 

11 Jun

Another Crisis in Culture Reprised

We are hearing all the time about the emptiness and self-centered posture  of Milennials and how they are growing up with social networks and smart phones and electronic games, and little human social contact and how this will of course lead to the demise of mankind and country.

This came to mind as I was reading George F. Kennan’s SKETCHES FROM A LIFE. Kennan, a Wisconsin boy, served his entire life in the foreign service of the US. Expert on USSR, etc. Interesting man. June 1938 he was on leave in his home state and moving around on a bicycle and had some interesting observations and concerns, which in some ways sound very familiar with the current dirges being hummed. “The tree-lined street stretched away down the hill, under the arc-lights. The sidewalks were deserted, but a steady stream  of sleek, dark cars flowed between them, moving in and out of the town. Each car had its couple or its foursome inside, bent on pleasure — usually vicarious pleasure — in the form of a movie, or a dance, or a petting party. Woe to the young man or young woman who could not make arrangements to be included in one of these private, mathematically correct companies of nocturnal motorists. All the life of the evening flowed along the highways in this fashion, segregated into quiet groups of two and four. There was no provision for anyone else. There was no place where strangers would come together freely — as in a Bavarian beer hall  or a Russian amusement park — for the mere purpose of being together and enjoying new acquaintances. Even the saloons were nearly empty.

“It seemed for a moment as through this quiet nocturnal stream of temporary moving prisons, of closed doors and closed groups, was the reductio ad absurdum of the exaggerated American desire for privacy. What was in England an evil of the upper class seemed here to have become the vice of the entire population. It was the sad climax of individualism, the blind alley of a generation which had forgotten how to think or live collectively, of a people whose private lives wee so brittle, so insecure that they dared not subject them to the slightest social contact with the casual stranger, of people who felt neither curiosity nor responsibility for the mass of those who shared their community life and their community problems.

…”But nothing  which I was destined to see subsequently served to weaken the relief at the thought that this sad breakdown of human association in urban America was something that could not last, and that whatever else might be sacrificed in the years to come, the spirit of fellowship having reached its lowest ebb, could not fail to be the gainer.”

Soon after this, Pearl Harbor took us into a world war and social contact was forced by circumstance. I wonder how Kennan would react to what we see nowadays. He died in 2005, at the age of 101.

Over.

10 Jun

Thoughts on Important Things in Life

 

Sheila Burnford wrote The Fields of Noon, which came out in 1961. It is a lyrical memoir of growing up wild and in the wild and in it she offers advice to her daughter: Gather your own precious riches of waters while you may; squander your days among them; continue to scatter your Have Gone Fishing notes across the years. And cultivate the company  of those whose ‘hearts are fitted for contemplation, and quietness, men of mild, sweet, and peaceable spirit- as indeed most anglers are, for the time will come when there are not as many good fish in the sea as ever came out of it.” Thank you, Mrs. Burnford and good night to all. Over.

10 Jun

More Canyon Falls

Here’s the rest from the canyon. We covered A LOT of ground to show our friend around our neck of da woods. More tomorrow. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

09 Jun

Canyon on The Sturgeon

First look here, more photos tomorrow. This is moving downstream along the canyon rim of the Sturgeon River. A perfect blend of sound, color, shapes and fresh scents.  And today, June 9, we still have ice in Keweenaw Bay.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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