Find the Mala, Count Your Mantras

Tuesday, May 17, Ford Center, Alberta, BaragastanNo I don’t know diddly-beans about Yoga (Yogi Berra, you bet, Yogi Bear, Yes, Yoga the metaphysical stuff, uh-uh). Yoga Journal is Jambe Longue’s Maggie, which she uses to help her keep her ouchy back from barking and seizing up. The mag features stories such as “How to Move Safely From Matsyasana to Camatkarsana.” I thought the answer would be to hire a competent moving company, but I turned out to be wrong. Really wrong, and my humor was not appreciated.

To be fair, the raggy-maggie has some good stuff in it – beyond pictures of rubber-limbed women – such as a piece in the June 2016 edition which offers seven tips for stimulating creativity.  What it actually says is “surprising ways to spur innovation.” Magazine writing always loves adjectives. Snark aside, here’s the list: 1. Take a walk; 2. Do a quick body scan; 3. Eat more fruit; 4. Let Yourself Be Bored; 5. Hit the road; 6. Leave Your desk messy; and 7.Start doodling. Immediate assessment, I already do 1-3-4-5-6 and 7, so I looked in the mirror, proclaimed “You’re fat!” So, I  increased the amount of Nos 1 and 3, so I’m now 7 for 7, right? Move more, eat less, what could be simpler than that?

I’d like to focus on No 5, Hitting the Road and as I read this I could hear the late Robin Williams (playing AFRS radio DJ Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning Vieeetnaaam!) tell his elderly Viet students to “Hit the fucking road, Jack!” And all of them repeating as one, his precise instruction — like a good catechism class.

Seriously, travel, especially if you work to engage your new surroundings rather than just pass through them, is a wonderful way to open your eyes and find new things to see and new ways to see them and if you can dive deep into the local cultures, the creative dividends can be remarkable – especially if you get your butt off paved roads.

A few years ago Jambe Longue and I were in Gogebic County scouting scene locations for Mountains of the Misbegotten. We were over near Tula in Gogebic Co and after stumbling onto private property tried to find a road north into some country that I wanted my characters to travel through (and which is coincidentally laced with nice trout streams). First cabin after we pull onto the two-track there is a naked woman sun bathing on a front deck. Our arrival sends her scrambling and of course Jame Longue and I are howling and then we pretty much forgot about it. Could get more than a dozen miles north before poor road and my lack of nerve turned us around.

Put this memory in a little packet and hold on. Now let move to just this past weekend. Dave (MVB, Multiple Vehicle Boy) and Diana (Agate Vulture No. 1) Stimac asked us to go along while they made some business stops for their Nature’s Way gift shop her in Alberta.

We left here 0930 in Dave’s Ford 350 white “Land Yacht” (He calls in Fat Ass) and headed west, our itinerary being Ontonagon, Merriweather and Wakefield. After finishing business meeting in Onty we stopped for brunch at Syl’s Café and after Brunch stopped at the NONESUCH gift shop across the street where we saw a wonderful chainsaw carving of a bobcat. Yesterday I saw what looked like a similar one on my novelist pal Henry Kisor’s FACEBOOK posting and told him we’d seen one like it in the gift store. Turns out we saw the identical one because he bought it that afternoon!

At Syl’s I should point out that we saw not one, but two different priests having post-mass lunch with parishioners and of course I had to sketch them in my People I See in Public Sketchbook.

As we approached Merriweather (west of Bergland) we regaled Dave and Diana with our story of the naked sunbather and then we turned off the blacktop onto a dirt road.

“Hey,” I yelped at Jambe Longue. “This looks like the same road.”

She yelped back, “It is the same road.”

Then I saw the cabin. “Hey that’s the very cabin we saw with the lady on the front deck!”

And then Dave pulled into the driveway, grinning. “This is our destination,” he said.

Out came Jim white-bearded Jim “Agate Addict” Jim Collins. Great guy, very knowledgeable about agates and all sorts of rocks. His pal Jim (missed his last name) showed up shortly thereafter. Pal Jim is retired train engineer from Yoop, fun guy, very knowledgable, originally from Wisconsin. The agate addict lives in Minnesota but keeps this old trapper cabin as his man-cave. Wonderful place, will no doubt appear in a book at some point, which is another benefit of travel.

Naturally MVB immediatly regales the Agate Addict with the story of Mme Au Naturel and Collins is knocked backwards. “When was this?”

“Three years ago,” Jambe Longue says.

“You saw the woman too?” he asked Jambe Longue.

“Indeed I did.”

“Well it wasn’t my wife because she hates coming up here. I bought this place 10 years ago. My son is divorced by he’s got a new girlfriend. Or it might have been one of the women from the camp across the way looking to get away from “menfolk.” He continue noodling but no answer came to the fore and we went inside to start examining rocks and looking around. Then the Other Jim showed up. Not his wife on the deck either.

After the trapper cabin we moved on to Wakefield and then on the way home stopped at the giant stop and rob in Bruce Crossing  — grocks, gas,sporting goods, bait, all the good stuff—and I took a photo of custom camo truck paint job and went inside with my camera, my only goal to find a john but I got stopped by a stumpy little fellow with his toque pulled down like Eminem. “What you take pitchers of eh?”

“Whatever strikes my fancy. The plan is no plan.”

“Here I got a photo you won’t get,” he says and takes out his wallet (wrapped, like mine, in rubber bands) and digs out an old faded snapshot of trucks. “This as when they was building M-28,” he explained.

“You’re right, I won’t get a photo like that,” and moved on, but he followed. “Hey, take pitcher dat trap dere, you ain’t never seen one like dat before.” In fact I had. It was a large Connibear.

I said, “I know a guy owns a fur processing business and sells traps, downstate.”

I keep walking and he keeps shadowing. We are by the donuts now and he steps up past me to block my way, “You ever seen a trap eight or nine feet across.”

“Nope,” I said.

“I have,” he said proudly and competitively. Then, “M-28 needs to be four lane but these dumb motherfuckers from Bruce Crossing don’t want no traffic here nor no tourist money. They just want be left alone.”

No way to take a leak now without a shadow, so I bailed out and got back into Fat Ass. We were parked by the home camo job. Lonnie asked, “Who do you think owns that?”

I told her I had a pretty good idea as we pulled out and headed east for home.

May 10 Dave and I made a run up Pequamming Road, north of L’Anse to see the bartender at the Bella Vista Bar. The guy had been collecting and stripping huge spruce burls from the woods and wondering if Dave might be interested in them for his wood shop, so we went to look and from there went to the guy’s house over in Baraga to look at an even larger specimen. The man’s girlfriend came out and talked to us, Said she and her boyfriend took six hours to pull the damn thing through a beaver pond to their truck – on Mother’s Day. The guy told us when we met him he walks all the time despite having “two new knees and a basket on his spine. Worked construction and in the woods my whole life, paying da price now, hey.”

May 13 Jambe Longue heard all the birds scatter off the feeders and looked up to see a flash and then a peregrine falcon landed where it lorded over its prey, a rose-breasted grosbeak, and held its wings up like batman while it hammered the thing to death. Jambe Longue was fascinated. We’ve seen Cooper’s hawks do this at our place in Portage and once Bob Linsenman, Godfrey Grant and I saw an eagle do this to a hawk on the Trophy Water of the Au Sable, but this was our first time seeing a Peregrine in action. I’d read that their attack speed is up to 220 mph and they are a perfect mascot for the United States Air Force Academy. Go Falcons!

Our hummingbirds (hummers) came back to our feeders May 8, same day as last year. We love the bird and animal life around Alberta. Recently we took the dirt Menges Creek Road to town (we avoid blacktop at all costs) and were rewarded with a porky in an oak tree midday. It did not like my dancing around below to get photos, but remained aloft, trying to ignore my presence.

April 28 in the morning 0730 by our old house (Birch House)  Lonnie and Shagsper were on the morning walk when they spied a light-colored wolf running eastward through heavy cover, following a sort of trail and route we’ve seen them on before.  We live between two wolf pack (the Arvon and the Alberta) and animals go back and forth. Perhaps this one was looking to recruit for the Arvon Pack or looking love in one of those wrong places.  Wolves: Who knows what they think. We like having them around even though we have to take some precautions with the dog. This is the price of immersing in a place, rather than speeding along the blacktop and stopping in tourist motels.

My very first copilot, Terry Daugherty got in touch with me over the website while we were up here. He was watching a lacrosse game on TV and though, “My old nav played for Michigan State, I wonder where he is now.” So he got on the computer and found me. We’ll get together later this summer. Last time I saw him he flew an OV-10 for the Pennsylvania National Guard out to Kalamazoo and we had lunch. Before that we had met in Bangkok. I was there on 3-mo TDY and he was on a year assignment as a Forward Air Controller, working with a green beret A team, living in a primitive and remote compound on the edge of some jungle. He had gone from 220 pounds to about 160 and looked like he had just come in from the Bataan Death March as we filled up on fresh milk flown down from Japan daily. More on our adventures after we meet. We once flew formation together in F4Es, my pilot mistaking me for a pilot rather than a navigator. He nearly had a heart attack when he discovered the truth and I had our wing about five feet off Terry’s wing and my guy was pushing me to “get closer.” More on all that later. We both puked that day in our cunt caps.

Sometime after we got her, my computer gagged and downloaded Word 10.  In keeping iswthi the  Cardinal road rule of computer-crap-world, it didn’t ask me. Just did it, and since then I can’t print a damn page and only last night figured out how to dump photos from my camera disk to the computer. Compukers! Over. Photos follow. (I hope)

Hairy Woodpecker at chow.
Hairy Woodpecker at chow.
Custom camo job in Bruce Crossing.
Custom camo job in Bruce Crossing.
Negotiations (fancy word for bullshit)
Negotiations (fancy word for bullshit)
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Agate Addict Jim Collins and MVB Dave Stimac engaging in banter.
Agate Addict Jim Collins and MVB Dave Stimac engaging in banter.
 Trapper cabin deor.
Trapper cabin deor.
Looks down from the balcony.
Looks down from the balcony.
Agate Vulture #1 (Diana Stimac) showing specimen skepticism (mark of a stone pro)
Agate Vulture #1 (Diana Stimac) showing specimen skepticism (mark of a stone pro)
Syl's Cafe, Ontonagon.
Syl’s Cafe, Ontonagon.
Dave and Da Big One.
Dave and Da Big One.
Dave and Spruce Root Balls
Dave and Spruce Root Balls
The wolfies' way of letting us know they are oot and aboot.
The wolfies’ way of letting us know they are oot and aboot.

 

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Rosebreasted grosbeak male, like the one the peregrine falcon grabbed.
Rosebreasted grosbeak male, like the one the peregrine falcon grabbed.
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View from the writer-reader's "desk" (also called the dining room table). Yes I'm rereading John LeCarre's ouvre this summer.
View from the writer-reader’s “desk” (also called the dining room table). Yes I’m rereading John LeCarre’s ouvre this summer.

Last Saturday In April Here and Gone

MONDAY, MAY 2, ALBERTA, BARAGASTAN — We’re back on the Ford Forestry Campus of Michigand Tech and for tech reasons beyond our control, couldn’t post this last week. But the glorious trout opener has passed and fine weather it was. I put up the following for folks to enjoy and think about while trying to inveigle trout to flies or garden hackle. Weather here is fine. Had a hard frost this morning, and dine outside tonight. Ahh.

Thoughts for the Opening Day of Trout Season, 2016
The last Saturday in April, a time branded in the minds of small-water trout-chasers in Michigan.
Since most of fishing consists of watching and mechanical actions, there is a lot of time for thought, so I offer the following Imponderables to let loose in our heads on this magic day. I wrote these down decades ago, have no idea where I got found them.

1) Why do you need a driver’s license to buy liquor when you can’t drink and drive?
2) Why isn’t phonetic spelled the way it sounds?
3) Why are there interstate highways in Hawaii?
4) Why do planes carry flotation devices instead of parachutes?
5) Why are cigarettes sold in gas stations, where smoking is prohibited?
6) Does one need a silencer to shoot a mime?
7) Have you ever imagined a world where there are no hypothetical situations?
8) How does the guy who drives the snowplow get to work (VW answered this long ago, but made no mention of his gas mileage back in those days.)
9) If 7-11 stores are open 24-7 for 365, why are there locks on the doors?
10) If the cow laughed, would milk come out her nose?
11) If nothing sticks to Teflon, how to they make the Teflon stick to the pan?
12) If you tied buttered toast to the back of a cat and dropped it from two stories up, what would happen?
13) If you are in a vehicle moving at the speed of light, what happens when you turn on your headlights?
14) Why do they put Braille on ATM keypads at drive-in banks?
15) Why do we drive on parkways, and park on driveways?
16) How come when you send something by car, it’s a shipment, but when it goes by ship it is called cargo?
17) How come they don’t make airplanes out of the stuff they use to make indestructible black boxes?

Tight lines and when some jamoke on the river tries to give you some unsolicited advice, remember what Harry pronounced in 1927: “Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” We all have an equal right to our own opinions. We do not have a right to equal value or accuracy in said opinions.

Glorious morning here, bluebird sky and our 16th consecutive day of east or northeast wind, which will definitely not hinder the fishing, but may not be such a good thing for the catching side of the equation.

Bloodroot is in bloom in the foret—by legend and local lore, the first flowers of spring

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Crusiing the Herman Hills and Western Extremis of Les Hurons

This was Sunday morning after breakfast. We had to drop some materials at the Keweenaw Greenhouse and used this as an excuse for color touring.

 

Brook trout sleep here.
Brook trout sleep here.
The awful things L'Anse kids have to look at on the way to school.
The awful things L’Anse kids have to look at on the way to school.
Silver River
Silver River
The splurgery
The splurgery
Looking AT behinds.
Looking AT behinds.
Looking behind
Looking behind
Summer business over.
Summer business over.
Apples turned wild
Apples turned wild
Splashes
Splashes
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Da Gravel Pit
Da Gravel Pit
Autumn mist
Autumn mist
Plumbago Lake/ Alberta Pond
Plumbago Lake/ Alberta Pond

 

Full frontal color
Full frontal color

 

Showy Showy Days and Then Snowy Snowy Days

For all Yoopers and Yooper lovers who can’t make it to the Yoop for leaf-peeping. 80 degrees yesterday, Snow forecast for friday night, saturday morning. Sheesh. Breaking photos into three posts. Enjoy. Over.

Sally and Randy Clarke in the Clarkemobile Pilot House
Sally and Randy Clarke in the Clarkemobile Pilot House
Reflections Can be telling
Reflections Can be telling

 

Passing Mandan.
Passing Mandan.
The spine to Lake Medora
The spine to Lake Medora
Medora River at the outlet
Medora River at the outlet
Lake Medora
Lake Medora
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Lindy.
Lindy.
The walls on Brockway Mountain
The walls on Brockway Mountain
Translation: This curvy road and colors will make you dizzy.
Translation: This curvy road and colors will make you dizzy.
The new ride, still being broken in.A
The new ride, still being broken in.A
Copper Harbor, the end of Hunter's Point and surf crashing healthily.
Copper Harbor, the end of Hunter’s Point and surf crashing healthily.
Poseur
Poseur
Peering off the heights.
Peering off the heights.
300 feet to the floor.
300 feet to the floor.
Looking down from Brockiway Mountain
Looking down from Brockiway Mountain
Hanging on.
Hanging on.
Lake Superior. On a good day you can see Isle Royale to the North. This is looking southwest.
Lake Superior. On a good day you can see Isle Royale to the North. This is looking southwest.
whole different ecosystem atop Brockway.
whole different ecosystem atop Brockway.
Rosehips on the mountain.
Rosehips on the mountain.

Last Day Up Da Crick, 2015

Trout season closes tonight on most of the state’s rivers, so we got out this afternoon and Jambe Longues limited out and ish was skunked. We celebrated at Wingey Wednesday at the Covington VFW Hall. We also had 13 hummingbird sightings — our first since Sept 22 and latest we’ve seen them up here? Tomorrow? We shall see. Fishing now swings to some year-round waters for coho and browns. Should be fun. Some cohos are in now, and more will come when the rain pushes them in. A great time to be in the U.P. Over. Photos from today follow:

Downstream.
Downstream.
Got to be one somewhere here...
Got to be one somewhere here…
Small, but all brook trout are beautiful.
Small, but all brook trout are beautiful.
Oops, pardon my digit.
Oops, pardon my digit.
And you wondered why we din't bring the flyrods?
And you wondered why we din’t bring the flyrods?
Low water days.
Low water days.
Okay, over that rock, and under that stick, and into that little hydraulic by the log.
Okay, over that rock, and under that stick, and into that little hydraulic by the log.
Bridge for critters.
Bridge for critters.
Miss Fish Limit Herself.
Miss Fish Limit Herself.
She got one from behind this log.
She got one from behind this log.
Maybe we should fish for rocks?
Maybe we should fish for rocks?
 Fvie hits, three fish from this tiny little rivulet.
Fvie hits, three fish from this tiny little rivulet.
Skinny water.
Skinny water.
Yeah, skunked. Me. Big deal.
Yeah, skunked. Me. Big deal.

Da Boyds Da Boyds?

This year we decided to make a list of bird species seen around Alberta Village and as of early this morning, here’s where it stands: (And BTW, tworudes showed up at the feeder this morning. It’s been 8 days since the last sightings! These are real tail-end Charlies.

  1. Alder Flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum)
  2. American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus)
  3. American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
  4. American Kestral (Falco sparvarius)
  5. American Redstart (Setophaga ruticella)
  6. American Wood Duck (Aiy sponsa)
  7. American Goldfinch (Cardulis trostis)
  8. American Woodcock (Scolopax minor)
  9. Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucophelus)
  10. Bank Swallow (Riparia riparia)
  11. Barn Swallow (Hinindo rustica)
  12. Black-backed Woodpecker (Picoides arcticus)
  13. Black-Capped Chicadee (Poecile husonicus)
  14. Blackburnian Warbler (Vermivera peregrina)
  15. Black-Throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens)
  16. Black and White Warbler (Mniotilta varla)
  17. Bluebird (Sialia sialis)
  18. Bluejay (Cyanocitta cristata)
  19. Broadwing Hawk (Buteo platypterus)
  20. Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanophalus)
  21. Brownheaded Cowbird (Molothrus ater)
  22. Bufflehead (Bucephala albeda)
  23. Canada Goose (Branta Canadensis)
  24. Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)
  25. Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerine)
  26. Clay-colored Sparrow (Spizella pallida)
  27. Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
  28. Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
  29. Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)
  30. Common Loon (Gavia immer)
  31. Common Merganser (Mergus merganser)
  32. Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor)
  33. Common Raven (Corus corax)
  34. Common Yellowthroat Warbler (Geothlypis trichas)
  35. Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)
  36. Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
  37. Double-Breasted Cormorant (Phalacpro corav)
  38. Downy woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)
  39. Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)
  40. Evening Grosbeak (Coccothrautes vespertinus)
  41. European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
  42. Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum)
  43. Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)
  44. Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
  45. Great Crested Flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum)
  46. Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)
  47. Greater Yellowleg (Tringa melanoleuca)
  48. Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)
  49. Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
  50. Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes clucullatus)
  51. House-Finch (Cappodacus mexicanus)
  52. Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea)
  53. Kildeer (Charadrius vociferous)
  54. Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
  55. Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)
  56. LeConte’s Sparrow (Ammodramus leconteii)
  57. Lincoln’s Sparrow (Melospiza lincolnis)
  58. Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia)
  59. Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
  60. Merlin (Falco columborius)
  61. Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
  62. Nashville Warbler (Vermivova ruficapilla)
  63. Northern Flicker (Colapteo auratus)
  64. Northern Harrier (circus cyaneus)
  65. Northern Shoveler (Anas Blypeata)
  66. Northern Water Thrush (Seiurus novboracensis)
  67. Ovenbird (Seirus aurocapillus)
  68. Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum)
  69. Pied-Billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)
  70. Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)
  71. Pine Grosbeak (Pinicola enudeator)
  72. Pine Siskin (Carduelis pinus)
  73. Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus)
  74. Redbreasted Nuthatch (Silla Canadensis)
  75. Red-Shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)
  76. Redtail Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)
  77. Redwing Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
  78. Ring-Billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
  79. Robin (Turdus migratorius)
  80. Rock Dove (Columba livia)
  81. Rosebreasted Grosbeak (Pheuticus ludovicianus)
  82. Roughed Grouse (Pat) (Bonasa umbellus)
  83. Rubythroated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris)
  84. Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)
  85. Rufous Hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus)
  86. Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)
  87. Sandhill Crane (Grus Canadensis)
  88. Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)
  89. Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitarii)
  90. Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)
  91. Sora (Porzanza Carolina)
  92. Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia)
  93. Spruce Grouse (Falcipennis candensis)
  94. Tennessee Warbler (Vernivara peregrine)
  95. Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)
  96. Turkey vulture (Cathartes aura)
  97. Veery (Atherous fuscescens)
  98. Whip-Poor-Will (Caprimulgus vociferous)
  99. White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)
  100. White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
  101. White-throataed Sparrow (Zonotrickia albicollis)
  102. Wild Turkey (Melagris gallopaus)
  103. Wilson’s Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)
  104. Wilson’s Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla)
  105. Wood Thrus (Hylocichla mustelina)
  106. Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)
  107. Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronate)

Catching Up

Been awhile since I could blog — computer gliches, the usual bull from that world of unreality

Singular night last night as Jambe Longues, Shaksper and I sat on the deck to watch the sky show — a tetral Super Moon/Harvest Moon/Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. We had clear skies and lots of stars and no clouds until almost the end of the show, a fine ending to a productive day. People are always asking, what do you DO up there for all those months. Yesterday is a good typical example (except for the eclipse, which was special.)  I typed all morning on the ms for 5GR, then went to work on two new Moodles (doodle drawings I do when the mood strikes me). I had sketch both the night before I went to bed, one called How Much is That Wolfie in Your Window and a second, called No Sap Left.

The skull scene comes from a window in MTU Professor Rolf Peterson’s storage building and the second comes from an abandoned farmstead on the treeless rolling hills just north of Covington. As media I’m almost exclusively using brown paper grocery bags (we’ll call it recyling), some wildly colored acrylic inks, good olde India Ink, German-made Lyra Rembrandt poly color pencils, Lyra Super Ferby color pencils for the ham-handed, and Swiss-made Caran D’Ache, water-soluble wax pastels, which our dear friend Doet Boersma introduced us to. I’ve always loved pastel pieces, but found the chalks to be too damn messy for the likes of me. These crayons literally mash into each other to blend beautifully and not a speck of dust!

We had sockeye salmon steaks for dinner last night, and a glass of wine and then I worked by phone and remote with our friend Rick Kienbaum to fix the computer’s ailings and after that went over to Dave Stimac’s workshop to grind and polish a half dozen large agates, none of which turned out to be much. I’m just learning the grinding game with a cab machine. I fear I’ll lack the patience to work specimens to “smoothity.” Good re-inforcement here for all creative endeavors because patience needs to partner with creative spark.

The book travel schedule is beginning to acquire some dates.  Saturday, Oct 3 we’re at Snowbound Books in Marquette. Monday Dec 7 I have a speech at the Gladwin District library where I have a lot of fine and enthusiastic fans. Sat Dec 12 is the the author picnic at Kazoo Books in Kalamazoo and Sat Dec 19 I’m meeting Bonnie Jo Campbell at Lowry’s Books in Three Rivers. Not sure if I’m supposed to sign or just catch up on some professional business. Whatever it is, will be great to see her and her schedule is truly crazy. Don’t know how the woman finds time to write, but write she does!

Meanwhile, Jambe Longues is suddenly overcome by the desire to hunt agates, so we’re off to the EUP for a few days to see what we can find. Supposed to be a stiff NW wind tonight over there, which is encouraging. She was packing the truck with gear while I kept pounding on manuscript. A few days in the cold air on the shores of the Great Gray Lady will be terrific. We tried to hunt this summer but too many flies and too many people. PURE Michiqan might be delivering on the investment. Part of me hopes so and party of me .. well, never mind that. 

We’ve been here in Alberta five months now and it seems like we just pulled in while snow was spitting yesterday. My old Michigan State Journalism advisor George Hough recently passed away. He was 94 and I didn’t even know he was still among the living. And now it’s too late to reconnect. He was one of those special influences in my life and ironically my journo friends Lane Wick and Billy Krasean also had him as an advisor, as did the late Margaret Lee who was four years behind me at the J School.

What follows are some moon shots from last night’s sky circus, followed by photos of most of the Moodles from the past two summes. 

Our hummingbirds (we call them rudes) are gone, the last ones showing on precisely the same day as last year, September 22. We have crowds of robins and juncos and pine siskins cycling through and the turkey vultures have already fled south. My old pal and partner Steve Burton bagged a nice bear with his bow last night, and there are bear hounds-men all over the plains and woods. Glorious Fall is upon us.

Let me finish here with a though from novelist John Steinbeck: “A novelist is a kind of flypaper to which everything adheres. His job then is to try to reassemble life into some kind of order. Wah! Over.

How Much Is That Wolfie in the Window?
How Much Is That Wolfie in the Window?
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Friday Night Football and Some Thoughts on Writing

BARAGASTAN, ALBERTA — Friday, September 4, 2015Friday night and we’re listening to Michigan State vs Western Michigan football at Waldo Stadium in Kalamazoo.  The weather both hither and yon  is sticky hot and it hardly seems time for football, but reality  reveals that most high schools ATB (albeit perhaps statewide) have already played the second games of their 2015 skeds this week.

From our little campus village, we can get MSU football only on WUPY FM out of Ontonagon. This broadcast outfit is part of what our MSU homer announcers call the Michigan State Football Network. I say homer announcers because the homerism is so blatant and laid on thick as syrup; it reminds me of certain commercial media network  that proclaims neutrality in reporting.  (e.g., “We report, you decide.”)But makes no attempt at same and blatantly lays its own colors deep into every report. The day of neutrality in reporting in the U.S. at least as a goal, seems long gone except in some few  major media. Never mind that the political right accuses anyone who disagrees with them as being liberal (which I assume is something like being a commie back in the early fifities). So it goes. Back in J-School days our profs, all seasoned professionals, hammered us to keep ourselves and our personal political opinions out of  our reporting and to endeavor to surgically keep stories focused on facts. This recognized, of course, that selection of facts is in itself editorial and slanted, but the point was made over and over to keep working to get reports neutral. One gets the feeling this is no longer so, at least among practitioners (which is where it ought be strongest). And maybe I’m just naïve. I also joined the USAF in 1965 because I thought it was every American’s duty to serve.  Few agreed, at least in terms of acting on what they believed. But that’s ancient history, and so too is neutrality in reporting. Tsk tsk.

As for the Spartan Football Network, someone at Ford Motor Company (or is it some finance arm of theirs, I was never certain) ought to monitor what the hell their copywriters are putting out to the public. Insipid at best, downright pathetic stuff.

My favorite quote from today came from an NPR story, an interview with the husband of the female court clerk in Kentucky jailed because her religions convictions made it impossible for her to sign same-sex marriage licenses. Said hubby: “We don’t hate nobody.” I’ve since learned that the clerk’s lawyer is appealing her contempt sentence  and I wonder, could this be something more than a simple morally driven individual wanting to stand up for herself. Who’s paying for this appeal? and now we have to wonder if this whole deal was arranged as a way to legally challenge the changes in the law made possible by a recent Supreme Court decision. Makes one wonder if this is like the 1925 John Scopes deal, by which high school science teacher John Scopes was used to legally challenge antievolution forces. If it quacks like a duck, eh. Back at MSU’s J school, we were taught to follow the money decades before that phrase became fashionable.

All of this and the usual political gibberish reminds me of a comment in this week’s NEW YORKER, “Political debate in Israel is vigorous, if not always elegant, often summoning the old Hebrew phrase (epigram?) that describes a dialogue between deaf people.” We should be so lucky as to have even a little elegant political debate in this country: Americans don’t debate: we yell, like placard holders at rallies.

Donald “The Donald” Trump is the latest of our 10-year-old debate emulators, yelling “You dumb-heads! You losers!” Seriously, this gentleman who was born rich and makes out to be self-made, this person wants to be our President? This person who quips to a crowd (perhaps tongue-in-cheek) do we even NEED an election? Okay call me paranoid, but I remember similar sorts of drifts in other countries and those did NOT turn out well. But we shall see and it the unlikely event we end up Trumped it will be no less than we deserve for letting it happen.

Great fish camp this year, our 39th annual and consecutive in Lake County. Al, Bob, Reg, Lars and ish kabible, and we even managed to catch some nice Pere Marquette River brown and rainbow trout (albeit all  under six pounds). Size ain’t everything. Some photos from the fest follow this blog entry.

Football underway, salmon running, it’s the last month of most brook trout fishing in inland waters, and we’re down to a short haul before we point the caravan south for winter.

Labor Day weekend here is projected as semi-tropical (which reminds me of the old Russian saying, “Nothing except optimism is required of a weather report.” Same same in You Pee — always.) While others labor at play this weekend, we’ll play at labor: Lonnie on jewelry and I on the copyedited typeset proofs of BUCKULAR DYSTROPHY, the tenth Woods Cop story. I plan to leisurely work my way through the proofs. The book will come out next spring, stay tuned for exact month of publication, or check Amazon or one of the on-line sites, which are pretty good about previewing the stuff in publisher’s pipelines.

I can’t believe all the venom over immigration. A friend yesterday insisted Pope Francis is advocating open borders for the US, so I checked it out. No such thing I can find, so I can assume only that my pal got this off one of his talk radio sources, who tend to distort things. My friend has a sign in his workshop proclaiming, LIBERALISM IS A DISEASE.”  I told him I agree, but it’s a better thing to have than the French Pox. Apparently liberalism is not highly contageous in certain circles.

I say phooey on hooey.

Of a more serious and germane note I’m always interested in definitions and discussion and descriptions of writing and story-telling.  I recently ran across the following anecdote in Italo Calvino’s THE BARON IN THE TREES (pub in English, 1959): “In fact, he was carried awzay by that mania of the storyteller, who never knows which stories are more beautiful – the ones that really happened and the evocation of which recalls a whole flow of hours past, of petty emotions, boredom, happiness, insecurity, vanity, and self-disgust, or those which are invented, and in which he cuts out a main pattern, and every thing seems easy, then begins to vary it as he realizes more and more that he is describing things that had happened or been understood in lived reality.

“Cosimo was still at the age when the desire to tell stories makes one want to live more, thinking one has not alone done enough living to recount, and so off he would go hunting: and be away weeks then return to the trees in the square, dangling by their tails, polecats, badgers, and foxes and tell the folk…new stories, which originally true, became, as he told them, invented and from invented true.”

Calvino is a wonderful novelist,and he  gets the writer’s chemistry perfectly.  A storyteller has to keep going. This, of course, relates only to certain storytellers, because they are not all the same and here we turn to Virginia Woolf for comment and she immediately looks not to the writer, but to the reader’s role in writing. That sounds funkily put, but think about it: If you’ve heard me speak, you know Ilike  to talk some about how writers seek to involve readers in their stories, to find techniques to have the reader create some sweat-equity and a buy-in to that being read. Woolf is far more eloquent and tells us, “Our first task (as readers) is to master the writer’s perspective. Until we know how the novelist orders his world, the ornaments of that world, which critics press upon us, the adventures of the writer, to which biographers draw attention, are superfluous possessions of which we can make no use.” (Fiction is not autobiography: my words, not hers). “All alone,” she says, “we must climb upon the novelist’s shoulders and gaze through his eyes until we, too understand in what order he ranges the large common objects upon which novelists are fated to gaze; man and men; behind them, Nature; and above them that power which for convenience and brevity we may call God. And at once, confusion, misjudgment and difficulties begin: Simple as they appear to us, these objects can be made monstrous and indeed unrecognizable by the manner in which the novelist relates them to each other.

Woolf continues: “So, in spite of text books, writers may live at the same time and yet see nothing the same.” Therein the beauty and incredible array of subject matter, styles, themes, and stories that writers around the world propagate. To get the full benefit of such variety, the reader has to work hard and actively reach out to each story.

Virginia Woolf’s fiction is incredibily powerful and innovative, but I find her essays and criticism even more compelling, and often surpassing her fiction in both incisiveness and insight. Hers is a writer’s eye for writers and writing and here I give you her 1931 essay, “Donne After Three Centuries.”  Woolf wrote, “When we think how many millions of words have been written and printed in England in the past three hundred years, and how the vast majority have died without leaving any trace, it is tempting to wonder what quality the words of Donne possess that we should still hear them distinctly today.”

She says, “But the first quality that attracts us is not his meaning, charged with meaning as his poetry is, but something much more unmixed and immediate; it is the explosion with which he bursts into speech. All preface, all parleying have been consumed; the leaps into poetry the shortest way. One phrase consumes all preparation: ‘I long to talke with some old lover’s ghost, or ‘He is starke mad, whoever says that he hath beene in love an houre.’

“With the first words a shock passes through us; perceptions, previously numb and torpid, quiver into being; the nerves of sight and hearing are quickened; the “bracelet of bright hair,” burns in our eyes. Woolf’s writing here reminds me of the late Dutch Leonard’s dictum to wannabe writers to “leave out the unimportant stuff.”

I continue to be astonished at how much one can keep learning as we plow through our septuagenarian years. Way cool, my late pal Rusty Gates used to say with a wry smile tagging his lips. Way cool, indeed.

Keep reading, keep thinking, keep learning, and keep the damn shovel handy for bulldroppings.

Over.

Frontice for 2015 camp cartoons.
Frontice for 2015 camp cartoons.
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How the cabin looks, coming back from the river.
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From Left: Robochef(Swedish Brother #2) Peterson; Lars Swedling (Swedish Brother #1) Hjalmquist: Al-the-Pal VanDenBerg; und, Reg “Yank-Canuck” Bernard.
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Unamed hulking hump shuffling along in the river.
FISHCAMP 5 - 15
Never shy in front of a camera. What it that about Canucks, eh?
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Clueless Old Men
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The Two Flags uv de camp.
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Chief Benefactor of Many.
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Motion, an unfamiliar feeling…
Our old pal Dick Schwikert, Maven of the Pere Marquette.
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Our friends are those one can visit in waders, no questions asked. Bob Peterson and Dick Schwikert, former HR floggers at the old Upjohn.

Tripping Around Da Yoop

The Big Sunny
The Big Sunny
Solelysian Fields
Solelysian Fields
A squadron of Sunnies
A squadron of Sunnies
Purple Cone Flower
Purple Cone Flower
Purple Cone Flower Preserve
Purple Cone Flower Preserve
Mo Bedda Color
Mo Bedda Color
Particularly THIS spot by the sign...?
Particularly THIS spot by the sign…?
An Engineer's Notion of  Eagles?
An Engineer’s Notion of Eagles?
The Trump Wall
The Trump Wall
Superstore in my HS days, and still Super!
Superstore in my HS days, and still Super!
Purple
Purple
The first Heywood House at Kincheloe AFB, circa 1957-1958
The first Heywood House at Kincheloe AFB, circa 1957-58