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13 Oct

You Know Halloween Must Be Approaching

If you find junk like this out in the woods.

Skeletons in the Woods

Skeletons in the Woods

13 Oct

Autumn Shroomers

 

Spent a bit this afternoon letting the mutt ruin and searching for shrooms out on Coast Guard Road. Working off descriptions from a friend, we found quite a haul of armillaria mellea, or honey mushrooms. Unfortunately we had them in a bag with some that were not honeys. And our friend’s book said they were not edible. Asked our friend, you eat these? “All my life. You have to boil them twice.” ‘fraid not. I dumped them all. But it was fun and pretty and the dog had  a ball on his two-hour all-out run. Photos follow. Over.

Sunday sunrise.

Sunday sunrise.

Reindeer lichen.

Reindeer lichen.

Bed of lichen

Bed of lichen

Coast Guard Road

Coast Guard Road

Two-tracks, everywhere you look!

Two-tracks, everywhere you look!

Morning light.

Morning light.

 

12 Oct

Maas En Mass

Pal Peter Maas was in Marlboro Mass and he spied a joint and went inside. Let him explain: “The place looked inviting.  Walked in, ordered a beer and a bowl of chowder.  Slapped my loose change on the table and waited for somebody to break out the cards. Nothing.  Had to watch the Bruins on the big-screen instead. 

In winter we convene with a crusty bunch of old newspaper types who call themselves Gazette Geezers, and we play a very bizarre and entertaining card game called 99. I think Peter’s notion was entirely correct in assuming he was entering a card-hall. But it is Mass and things there can be a little diff than the rest of the world. Over.

False Advertising.

False Advertising.

12 Oct

Sunshine Becomes Rainshine

Snap of the fingers, a bit threatening and dark as in photo, then POW! Heavy rain.

Official greeter for red squirrels.

Official greeter for red squirrels.

Not rain, then rain, pronto subito.

Not rain, then rain, pronto subito.

12 Oct

Ere the Rain

 

Trees of When-White- Pine -Was-King- Days.

Trees of When-White- Pine -Was-King- Days.

DAY 148,  Saturday, October 11, DEER PARK, MI– Iggy won, my Rudyard Bulldogs lost, Newberry won, and Crystal Falls Forest Park remains undefeated in high school football. And Michigan State clipped some Hoosier Wings today. This morning we went over to Ruth DiSilvestro’s “compound” on da south side of da lake, to make sure cabin doors and windows were all closed and locked. Shaksper spent two hours hunting red squirrels. He’s never caught one! And Jambe Longue and I took a stroll around the property where the color is a hair past peak, but  remains an eyeful (in the best reading of that word). Thunderstorms alleged in the offing for this evening photos  of the Carlson Compound follow.  Carlson’s big log cabin was the second built on the lake. Built by  Finnish brothers. There is said to be an identical place on Manistique Lake, though none of us have ever bothered to search it out and look. Photos of the morning tour follow.  Over.

Agates on our windowsill

Agates on our windowsill

The Little Carlson Cabin

The Little Carlson Cabin

 

Looking north across the lake. Our place is the little tan one to the right (east) of the prominent white one.

Looking north across the lake. Our place is the little tan one to the right (east) of the prominent white one.

Muskallonge Lake looking west from da property.

Muskallonge Lake looking west from da property.

Muskallonge Lake east of Carlson Cabins

Muskallonge Lake east of Carlson Cabins

A little history.

A little history.

Shed with the bed (of moss on the roof).

Shed with the bed (of moss on the roof).

Tree-boat mating from another angle.

Tree boat mating from another angle.

Sometimes the wind she does blow, and sometimes the boat on the ground under the tree suffers when a branch detaches.

Sometimes the wind she does blow, and sometimes the boat on the ground under the tree suffers when a branch detaches.

Corner of la casa grande

Corner of la casa grande

Carlson Road (believe it or not, a named two-track)

Carlson Road (believe it or not, a named two-track)

Second oldest cabin on Muskallonge Lake, dating to 1930s.

Second oldest cabin on Muskallonge Lake, dating to 1930s.

Da House Wioth the Parr and the sharr, up in da woods from da beek house.

Da House Wioth the Parr and the sharr, up in da woods from da beek house.

11 Oct

Good Day in the North

Started the day with fog-shrouded sunrise. Hunted agates this afternoon with calm Lake Superior and when we got back two beavers were swimming close to shore and went under the dock. I caught them a bit on from there, but forgot to select a certain camera setting and most of the stuff is blurry. Still, very cool, and two more eagles. We have now seen 200 bald eagles this summer and 3 golden eagles. As of this same date last year our bald eagle count was  415 and goldens the same, at 3. Why such a huge drop in baldy sightings? I wonder if others are experiencing the same or if this is localized?  Some people wonder what writers do when not writing. Some make letter openers of the most basic kind. If the blade dulls, you take out your pocket knife and give it a new edge. Priceless. Over.

Ouvre-lettre

Ouvre-lettre

Da beaves on da feed.

Da beaves on da feed.

 

Sunrise, Deer Park Day 147

Sunrise, Deer Park Day 147

11 Oct

DAY 147

Oh three hundred, the wind is thumping out of the east, sending dead leaves to click on the metal roof. I look up and see the Belt of Orion, one of the few constellations I can still immediately recognize. It is near the stars Betelguise, Belatrix, and Aldeberan;  and is part of the constellation of Orion the Hunter, which seems appropriate now that we are in October and hunters are afield al around us here in Deer Park. For the record, the three stars in the belt are Alnitak (easternmost, means girdle), Alnilam (the middle star, meaning belt of pearls), and Mintaka, (which is from the Arabic word for belt). This simple three stars formation is known in some places as The Three Marys, and in other places as The Three Kings, but the point in my mind is that no matter our race, or ethnicity, or religion, we look up on the same stars, no matter where we are in the world, which reminds me we are all on this little planet together and all of our artificially constructed separations serve no real purpose for constructive relations between people. We are born and we die and all of us have red blood.  Would do us well to all keep this in mind, but since few do, there is no point in dwelling on it. Our planet these days would be better named Usthem. The word earth comes from Middle English erthe (first recorded in 1137 CE), which came from Old English, eorthe (725 CE, and before that from the proto-Germnanic ertho.  Our home is occasionally called the World of the Blue Planet, which has a certain cachet.

Last night on Facebook author Ben Rehder  told us, “I’ve never outlined any of my books, and it’s never been a problem in the slightest—except for the pervasive sense of panic that always kicks in about three quarters of the way through, when I realize I’m a fraud and everything I’ve written up to this point is rambling and disjointed, useless and nonsensical. Other than that, hey, no big deal.” Ben writes about a game warden in Blanco County Texas, wonderful characters and stories laced with humor and keen insight into the human condition. I don’t outline either and I understand what he is saying about panic at a certain point in each manuscript, but this doesn’t happen with all of them., at least for me. Those written with an ending in mind are less fraught with such emotional steep dives. it’s the ones that get written primarily from a start in mind,  with no preconceived end that can shake and astonish the author because we ride along, just as the reader does, not knowing how or if the story will come out. I’m still cutting and shaping MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTEN and it feels solid and tight, which is all we can hope for on this end of the process, and hope it will be the same for readers.

I am also finding myself awaking in the middle of the night with voices from BROWN BALL. I get up and makes notes, sometimes even write some dialog, and when I eventually get back to the manuscript (first draft done last March) I   will see if these night-things fit, if, where, and how. Usually they do and this whole thing of imagination is the most difficult to teach to students and aspiring writers. There is no formula for a novel other than beginning, middle, and end. You will do far more thinking than writing, and more re-writing than writing as the thing grows toward fruition. The book results from your own personal process, not from some sort of algorithm.

Here are some notes for BROWN BALL from tonight.

“There’s only one direction you can go, when  you are barely thirteen, everyone is calling you the next Bob Feller, you have an Israeli girlfriend who acts ten years older than you, you’re in Texas, and you discover the country isn’t the perfect place political cheerleaders want you to think it is. That direction is distinctly not upward. But I’m getting ahead of myself.”

Then, another bit: “My old man people swore, had a vocabulary Shakespeare would admire, but you’d never know that by me. I doubted his working vocabulary and phrases topped ten: Yes. No. Tell your mother. Leave your brother alone. Eight-ball. Knucklehead. There were times when he was quicker with fists than words.

Dad and I played catch every night from the time I had a memory, never with words, just two mitts and a scuffed baseball, zip-whack, zip-whack, back and forth, back and forth. Zip-whack. Sometimes it got boring.  “Can you throw me some grounders, dad?”

“Grounders aren’t catch.” Zip-whack. Occasionally he would say blot out everything but the target and hold up his glove impatiently, wiggling it at me. No words, just that mitt wiggling like a snake’s head.

At ten and eleven, I was a catcher. Strong arm, good hitter, mediocre in other parts of the job. At age twelve, at the last practice before our season opened, he said, “You’re pitching tomorrow.”

“But I’m a catcher.”

“Now you’re a pitcher. Tomorrow, knucklehead.  Stop whining.”

“Why?” One thing the old man taught us was to question all authority and arbitrary orders, except him and his dictates. These were law.  Asking why of one of his orders was damn risky.

But he was almost serene. “How often does an outfielder touch the ball in a game, three times, four max? The pitcher has the ball in his hand every single pitch. Everything starts with him. The pitcher is the author of the game.”

Author of the game? I had no idea what to say and the next day my pitching career began.

And another excerpt:

Sergeant Furia de Flores told me one night in the back yard, “Your father should have been dead a hundred times and one time I ask him why,” and he look me in the eyes and said, “The kid has promise.”

“As a ballplayer, Colonel?”

“As a human being who can do something with his life to help others.” Pretty strange words from a man who flew Deuces faster than sound and sat on the front end of a fireball  juggling life and death, forty thousand feet above the ground.

This is how a book grows sometimes, a little at a time, spread over years rather than one huge bolus swallowed over one intense 24-7  year  from start to finish.

Pretty hard to outline how one ends up as a novelist other than to say you have to read a lot, then write a lot, and rarely are you happy with what gets on paper.  Not happy: I should say pleased or accepting. Happiness is in the doing, not the outcome.When my colleague Ben talks about the three-quarter mark panic attack. It’s about those words on the page and nothing less and nothing more.

I usually close my  blog with the word, “Over,” a takeoff from flying days, when the word meant something along the lines of “Your turn to talk.”

But with a writer, the voices inside are always talking and the characters always alive and it’s never over until they slip your ashes  nto an urn, which we hope will be much later rather than sooner.

Over.

These came along after B29s,before B-47s, and B-52s. If you're old enough, you'll recall. By the say, those blaze orange markings are meant to make finding a crash site earlier. Imagine the same thin on your car every time you jump into it.

These came along after B29s,before B-47s, and B-52s. If you’re old enough, you’ll recall. By the say, those blaze orange markings are meant to make finding a crash site easier. Imagine the same markings on your car every time you jump into it.

 

 

10 Oct

In a Weirding Time, Weird Theories Abound

The government is shutdown. Politicrappis are going freakozoid over the gamesmanship being played in the nation’s capital.

Putting this entry under The Right Stuff might have been better under the Wrong Stuff, but I don’t have that category available, so here it sits.

How all this  political unrest, polarity and sheer folly can manifest is creepy. I heard something disturbing the other day and I can’t get it out of my mind. A friend of mine told me, “when the President goes to disband the Marines, that will be the end, and “those Marine boys are so patriotic they won’t obey and will take up arms to stop it.” Really? REALLY!!!?

A lot of the political crap I hear are from people who have never worn the uniform of their country. Nor have their kids. To be fair, these folks have no real experience with how the military functions.

The President wants to eliminate the Marines? Where the hell does this come from? Never mind that this country has looked at eliminating the marines after every war we’ve fought and that there have been five major presidential attempts at elimination, staring with Andrew Jackson, Old Hickory himself.

Here’s a news item from  three years back, August, 2010: “Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is ordering a review of the future role of the Marine Corps amid ” anxiety” that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had turned the service into a “second land army.” The review would seek to define a 21st century combat mission for the Marines that is distinct from the Army’s, because the Marines “do not want to be, nor does America need” another ground combat force, Gates said in prepared remarks for a speech at Marines’ Memorial Theatre in San Francisco on Thursday to a group that included retired Marines and foreign policy experts. In ordering the Pentagon review, Gates was deepening a long-running debate about the role of the Marine Corps, including whether one of its main missions — amphibious assaults against fortified coastlines — has become obsolete because of the changing nature of warfare and advances in precision weaponry..

[For the record, the US Army took more beaches in WWII than the Marines, but there was never  a debate over whether the Army was getting too sea-based for its missions.]

Andrew Jackson and Harry Truman wanted to eliminate the marines, Truman to save money in the wake of World War II.  Eisenhower favored their elimination as well – in the interests of streamlining.

The Corp was established Nov 10, 1775, but the corps lasted only 8 years until 1783, when the Treaty of Paris was signed, and the Continental Marines, and the Continental Navy were both then disbanded. The marines were not reconstituted again until  a decade and a half later, 11 July 1798.

Now, according to various sites, 2013 is billed as the USMC’s 238th birthday, which doesn’t add quite add up. Yes, it is 238 years since the 1775 founding.  The corps was  active 1775-1783 (= 8 years), eliminated 1783-1798 (=15 years) and 2013 minus 1798 is 215 years ago. The 238 is accurate only If you count those years when there was no U.S. Marine Corps. Actual  number of years when the USMC was alive and real is 223 years by my calculation. I know, it’s a quibble.  [And the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) have a similar gap. They were founded in 1540, but suppressed by the Church 1750-1773 because of its extreme political activities.]

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) is the bedrock of military law. The UCMJ is a federal law, enacted by Congress. Articles 77 through 134 of the UCMJ are known as the “punitive articles,” — that is, specific offenses which, if violated, can result in punishment by court-martial.

The law requires the Commander-in-Chief (The President of the United States) to implement the provisions of the UCMJ. The President does this via an executive order known as the “Manual for Court Martial” (MCM). Chapter 4 of the MCM includes, and expands on the punitive articles. The MCM divides the punitive articles into six parts: The text, elements of the offense, an explanation, lesser included offenses, maximum permissible punishments, and sample specifications.

Every single person in uniform, by law, reports to the commander in chief, The President of the U.S., from privates to all levels of generals and admirals.

My friend who told me about this alleged Marine “revolt” is a Navy vet from Vietnam, but seemed totally unfamiliar with the UCMJ or its existence. The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) 809[890].ART.90 (20), makes it clear that military personnel need to obey the “lawful command of his superior officer,” 891.ART.91 (2), the “lawful order of a warrant officer”, 892.ART.92 (1) the “lawful general order”, 892.ART.92 (2) “lawful order”. In each case, military personnel have an obligation and a duty to only obey Lawful orders and indeed have an obligation to disobey Unlawful orders, including orders by the president that do not comply with the UCMJ. The moral and legal obligation is to the U.S. Constitution and not to those who would issue unlawful orders, especially if those orders are in direct violation of the Constitution and the UCMJ.

Duties-and-orders offenses include failure to obey an order or regulation (art. 92, 10 U.S.C.A. § 892) and being intoxicated on duty (art. 112, 10 U.S.C.A. § 912). Superior-subordinate relationship offenses include violations such as Contempt for officials (art. 88, 10 U.S.C.A. § 888) and mutiny (art. 94, 10 U.S.C.A. § 894). Combat-related offenses include misbehavior before the enemy (art. 99, 10 U.S.C.A. § 899) and misconduct as a prisoner (art. 105, 10 U.S.C.A. § 905).

The UCMJ also includes the so-called General Articles (arts. 133 and 134, 10 U.S.C.A. §§ 933, 934), which proscribe certain conduct in nonspecific terms. Article 133 makes unlawful any conduct by an officer that is “unbecoming to an officer and a gentleman.” Article 134 proscribes “all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of a good order and discipline…, [and] all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.” The constitutionality of these articles was upheld in the face of a First Amendment challenge in Parker v. Levy, 417 U.S. 733, 94 S. Ct. 2547, 41 L. Ed. 2d 439 (1974).

A little on history: The War Department became the Department of Defense in 1947 with passage of the National Security Act of 1947, which was created by and passed by Congress. This act also authorized the creation of the USAF as its own branch, removing it from the Army.

Presumably, the elimination of the USMC would also have to come through Congress, not as an executive order from the President, whose job would be to sign the bill. My friend was quite muddled on this whole thing, contending how the Marines would fight the President because they are the most patriotic of all military branches. Bullshit, I don’t feel like my Air Force colleagues and I hold second candle to Marine patriotism. This” most patriotic” thing is rhetoric and marine propaganda to make their people feel “special.” So be it. They are in many ways, but they, like all uniformed personnel are sworn to uphold the constitution, and if congress comes through with a bill eliminating the marines in order to reduce expenses, it will be done, the Marine leaders will obey per the laws and UCMJ, and follow the order as precisely as they can. All the rest of this is some sort of sick right wing fantasy, which is also linked the chronic shortage of small arms ammo in this country. (Obama has decided to take away the ammo so guns won’t be able to be used. This is being done by the Department of Homeland Security making unprecedented orders of ammo. Never mind that ammo to police and ammo to civilians are apples and oranges. That  GD N-Word in the White House is out to get guns and he’s decided this is the way to get them.

Even the NRA doesn’t subscribe to this nut-cracker thinking.

I shake my head. Is this country THAT sick, and if so, why? Is race still the central issue in this land, albeit whispered and spoken out loud only by small groups?  It makes me sad indeed. Should you too. And all of us should be ashamed.

And somehow all of this is tied to the notion that the US is, like Rome, failing after 200 years, as all great powers do. Never mind we’ve only been a “great power” since World War II, which is 60 years.  Or that the Roman Republic lasted 500 years, followed by the Roman Empire, another 500 years, and if you talk about the split between east and west Roman empires, Eastern Rome lasted until around 1500, none of which is 200 years no matter how you slice and  dice the tatey.

My Ozzie (Aussie)  friends like to say “Only in America, Mate.” This not meant as a compliment, nor is it a criticism. It’s more in the line of s statement of how ridiculous this country and its citizens can act, how stupidly extreme we can get.

The marines I know respect the chain of command absolutely, as they should, and as they must. My old man, retired military, vet of WW 2, Korea and Vietnam eras,  would have gone  ballistic to hear this kind of crap in the air.

Stop spreading mud on the reputation of the USMC with sick conspiracy theories.

Over.  It’s another beautiful morning in Paradise and I gotta go find some ammo.

Thursday Morning Above the Bridge

Thursday Morning Above the Bridge

10 Oct

Where People Ain’t

We like living where there are more woods than towns. Down in Portage, where we winter, the population density in Kalamazoo County is 424.7, and in Portage City 1,394.2. Up here in Luce County the number of persons per square mile is a meager 7.8, and McMillan Township, where we live, in Deer Park is 6.7. The re-entry from the lifestyle at 6.7 to  life at  1,394.2 is profound, troublesome and gets  more uncomfortable each time we do it. The data I’m using here are from 2000, but I doubt there has been dramatic change in the years since, so the numbers will serve to make some points.

In thinking about why people come to the UP, I think this low density of people is right up there with camping, hiking,  fishing, hunting, leaf peeping and all the rest. Much more public land, far fewer people. Simple as that. The entire UP is marked by very low population densities (persons per square mile). Here they are from highest to lowest and the name of the largest town in the county as well: Dickinson-Iron Mountain (35.8); Houghton-Houghton (35.6); Marquette-Marquette (35.5); Delta-Escanaba (32.2); Chippewa- Soo (24.7); Menominee-Menominee (24.3); Gogebic-Ironwood (15.8); Mackinac-St. Ignace (11.7); Iron-Iron River (11.3); Alger-Munising (10.7); Baraga-Baraga (9.7); Luce-Newberry (7.8); Schoolcraft-Manistique (7.6); Ontonagon-Ontonagon (6.0); and Keweenaw-Eagle River (4.3)

Compare this to Wayne County overall (3,356.1) with Hamtramck City (10,900.5); Lincoln Park (6,834.9); Detroit City (6,855.1).  Far southeast Michigan is wall-to-wall people in comparison to the Yoop, and to some Below The Bridge (BTB) counties, some of which c compare with the Yoop: Benzie-Frankfort (49.8); Iosco- Tawas City (49.8); Huron-Bad Axe (43.1); Osceola- Reed City (41.0); Ogemaw- West Branch (38.4); Cheboygan-Cheboygan (37.0); Kalkaska-Kalkaska (29.5); Crawford- Grayling (25.6); Missaukee- Lake City (25.5);Presque Isle –Rogers City(21.8); Lake-Baldwin (20.0); Oscoda-Mio (16.7).

While I’ve worked Detroit City (6,855.1); and Lansing City (3,366.7), most of my DNR patrols have been in the lower density counties, which ironically are where some of the best trout fishing exists: Au Sable in Crawford; Manistee in Kalkaska; Au Sable in Oscoda; Pere Marquette in Lake.

The sounds we live with here range from banjoing frogs to bellowing female moose in heat. But there are no emergency sirens and only an occasional aircraft, usually with pontoons, looking to set down on Muskallonge Lake. We can occasionally hear the throb of diesel engines  on ships passing way off the shore in Lake Superior, but this is rare, and once in a while we can even see a passing freighter.

We rarely see people in the woods or on the beaches and there is little traffic most of the week, and virtually none after 8 p.m. and before 6:30 a.m. it is a quiet place where man lives on the edge of nature’s domain, a place where you can sit on the deck and read and listen to the wings of birds passing overhead, or the flitter-flutter of a small woodpecker working up the nerve to jump onto the suet feeder.

So, when you start looking for places to go to get away from the rat race (or whatever species of critter you run with), pull up the state data by population density and pick a spot.

We have seen within 100 yards of our cabin: otter, beaver, deer, bald eagles, golden eagles, bears, wolves, foxes, coyotes, snowshoe hares, and fishers, not to mention legions of songbirds shorebirds and all kinds of raptors. Ah, the north country, where the air is fresh and the people aren’t.

 I attach a photo of yesterday’s sunrise. Over.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunrise over Muskallonge Lake

 

09 Oct

The Air Up There

This photo was taken by pilot Chris Haerter from the left seat of a Delta Airbus, two nights ago. Westbound View: Chicago, Moon, Venus, sunset, lake Michigan.

Words Not Needed.

Words Not Needed.

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