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04 Oct

Color Tour

Flag girl.
Divided we fall.
Cracking up
Works of Art
Nature’s paint
Seat in the woods
Tunnel on CR 416
Color on the knoll
Four-wheeler trail
Les Colour..
Baldie on the Beach
04 Oct

Tree Bear (s)

Yesterday coming home from Grand Marais, a sow and cub crossed in front of us. Cub numero due went up a tree, not ten feet from Jambe Longue’s window. Great photos. UP at its finest now, full color here, salmon in, animals moving, pure splendor. Over.


Hey, just leave me ALONE. (Please?)

Huh, wonder if there’s anything good to eat here?

Mamma tells us climb a tree. I sure hope she waits for me!

03 Oct

Goodbye to a Pal: Shanahan Heywood, 2002-1012

October 3, Sportsman’s Restaurant, GRAND MARAIS– Some bits are harder than others to write. Shanahan began feeling sick in May, just before we came up here. Stopped eating his dry dog food, and he was  NOT one to miss a meal willingly. We took him to our vet in Battle Creek and Dr. Ron said, “Just leave the dry food out and he’ll eat when he gets hungry enough. He looked at one of his lumps. Not malignant. Said let him enjoy summer and we’ll see how he is in fall when you get back.

He was excited to come north, but continued to be sick and in June we took him to Dr. Jeff at the Sault Animal Hospital. Jeff had worked with Ron in Battle Creek and they were friends. Lonnie found a “mass” in Shan’s stomach and that prompted us to seek vet help — two hundred mile round-trip. It was DAY 34 of our five months in the Yoop. We spent better part of morning with tests and after ultrasound we saw a huge mass in his belly and Dr. Ron said, “I don’t know what the hell that is.”

We asked what he would do if it was his dog, and he said, “Exploratory.”

“When can you get him in?”

Vet Tech Josh, former Marine said, “We have a cancellation this afternoon.”

Ron asked, “What if I get in there and there’s nothing to be done?”

We said, “Let him sleep. Don’t wake him up.”

So we went from there down to the Sugar Island Ferry and sat by the river and worried and sobbed and waited for a phone call, and the vet called about 4 p.m. and said he had removed a huge (between one and two cantaloupes in size) mass, which was “free floating” in the abdominal sac and not attached to any organs, but it obviously had been pushing on Shanny’s lungs. It was attached only toe the sac, and the vet said we’d have to wait for tox, but it didn’t look like a malignant tumor to him, had too much substance. “Usually,” he said, cancers are amorphous blobs that fall apart in your hands. This didn’t. But the tox will tell.”

We drove back to Deer Park for the night and the next day back to the Soo to pick up the patient, who was as spry as a puppy. Dr. Ron said keep him quiet for 7-10 days, no running, no jumping. Right…. The incision was over a foot long. By the next morning he was raring to go – like a puppy, and eating like a hog!

Ten days later the vet called, “It’s malignant. Hemangiosarcoma.” I looked it up, a cancer of the blood vessels, fast growing and fast spreading, always lethal. The vet told me because of how the thing had been situated, with no organ attachment he hoped that meant that getting out would be enough. I asked if it’s going to come back, when should we expect to see that?”

“Six months to a year.”

Well, it came back sooner. Three weeks ago, he stopped eating dry dog food again. We took him to the vet on DAY 102. X-ray showed lungs clean. Dr. Jeff gave us some pain pills and an antibiotic in case he had another infection, and something to help his diarrhea, which had developed. We took him home. This was on a Monday. By Friday, DAY 105, he was lethargic and clearly in misery, but not complaining and eating from hand. The next day he awoke renewed and spunky and we took a long walk on the Lake Superior Beach and as usual he rambled and explored while we looked for agates. Lonnie took him along for her walk every day, and he took a couple of long walks. By DAY 107 he was limping and we thought maybe he pulled something during his woods rambles. Mornings he could hardly move, but his morning pain pill helped him fast and within an hour he was back at his dog-job. DAY 108, Lon took him for a road walk (she had pulled a muscle in her hip) and he went into the woods for a hunting expedition and came back to her, but he was limping. The morning of DAY 109, at 0330 he was dancing in the kitchen and came to the bed to get me twice to let him out. I pulled on my Uggs and in my skivvies went outside and away he shot, chasing something. The chase went on for 30 minutes until he treed a coon in tree beside our cabin and began his two-bark “treeing-bark” and I got him in the house, lest he awake the guests next door. He came in all proud of himself, had a cookie reward, went to the “bedroom,” lay down and went to sleep, content in his doggily prowess.

Yesterday morning he was limping badly and we had errands to do in town and when I told him “truck,” he went right to the Green Streamer, I opened his door, he put up his paws and I lifted him inside and he lay down, as he always did before a road trip.

Lonnie dropped me at Bob’s Barber Shop (only one customer ahead of me) and went to the bank where she let him out and re-loaded him, then got gas and fetched me. We did a couple of errands and decided to eat lunch at Zellars and took him in parking lot by woods behind there to take a leak, which he did, but when he came back to the truck, he didn’t want to get it and when I finally coaxed him to put up his front paws he did so, then cried. I immediately lifted him in the truck and he lay down in back. He had not been deficating, was not eating well and was generally lethargic in a far-from-normal way. He had always had fatty deposits and last week when the vet aspirated one of them, all he got was blood and he told me then, “I think it’s back.”

So we knew then. When we called the vet from Noobs we explained what we were seeing and that I was guessing tumor involvement in the kidneys. They said Dr. Jeff was out on large animal calls, but they would schedule another vet.

I grabbed a plain burger at Micky D’s and we started east on a long 60-mile trek. We stopped at the Strongs General Store for some pops and I saw a sign declaring NO DOG RUN, which struck me as ironic. Further east we pulled down a two-track.

When we road-trip Shanny lounges until I touch the brakes or pull onto a two-track, at which point he pops up and wants out. This time he did not move. Not a bit. He just lay there, and we knew he was out of gas.

Vet appointment was for 1545, but we got there around 3 PM, went inside and did all the paperwork. Told them he was having trouble moving and in pain, so two techs brought out the stretcher. One of the techs, Josh the former Marine, was sobbing. He said “I saw his name on the chart and my heart stopped.” Josh carried him inside and another tech got a blanket, ironically, EXACTLY the same checkered pattern of one he uses at home, made for him by our daughter Tara. Stunning moment. Then Dr. Jeff showed up, had come back from his other business to take care of this. I told him what we had seen, he checked Shanny quick, he and Josh shaved a spot on his leg and Jeff gave him the injection and he was gone in seconds. Just like that. Alive, not alive.  Lonnie stayed in the room for a long time and came out with her eyes swollen and face red, I thanked the two men for their help. We pick up his ashes next week and will bury him here at the cabin, where he was happiest, and where he could be a dog, unleashed and unfettered.

We cried and sobbed all the way back to Noobs, did our grock-shopping with stoicism, and cried our way north.

Hard day’s night followed. This morning I got up at 0330, 24 hours after his last hunt, stepped outside and our four solar lights were all dark and above and between them was the moon shining down and I saw the lights as his paws and the moon as his heart. At 4 AM I went outside and looked up at the Belt of Orion and get this, I heard a large dog bark twice up in the woods, 24 hours after his tree-bark the night before, in the same area where Shanny had hunted during his walk with Lonnie on Monday. There are no large dogs living up there. I took it as a message that he was in his element.

Wishful thinking, Who knows? We had him ten years and he taught us to feel and to love, and what more can you ask of any person or beast?

Emily Dickinson wrote: “Unable are the loved to die. For love is immortality.”

So please hug your  mutts tight today and tonight and for as long as you have them. The last words Shanny heard from me were: “Shanny, good boy.” More heartfelt words were never spoken.



Looking for his Poppy.

Sleeping happily by his Poppy’s shoe in the back of the Green Streamer. Oct 2, 2012.

03 Oct

Books of Summer: 2012: January 1 – Sept. 30, 2012

1)      Peter Steinman. The Company of Wolves. [NF]

2)      Malcolm Gladwell. Outliers. [NF]

3)      CO Sylvester Mowson. Dictionary of Foreign Terms.[NF]

4)      Lois Crisler. Arctic Wild. [NF]

5)      Lois Crisler. Captive Wild: One Woman’s Adventure Living With Wolves.[NF]

6)      Lolita Hernandez. Autopsy of an Engine, and Other Stories From the Cadillac Plant. [SS]

7)      Frank Corbin. The Wolf Hunter’s Guide: Tell How To Catch ‘Em All About the Science of Wolf Hunting. [NF]

8)      Adam Johnson. The Orphan Master’s Son.

9)      Karen Russell. Swamplandia.

10)  James Oliver Curwood. Son of the Forest: An Autobiography. [NF]

11)  Isabella L. Bird. A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains. [NF]

12)  Margaret E. Murie. Two in the Far North. [NF]

13)  Stanley P. Young. The Last of the Loners. [NF]

14)  Chistopher Chabris and Daniel Simons. The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Are Deceived. [NF]

15)  Judith A. Eldridge. James Oliver Curwood: God’s Country and the Man. [NF]

16)  Don DeLillo. End Zone.

17)  Suzanne Collins. The Hunger Games.

18)  Adam M Soward. The Environmental Justice: Wm O. Douglas and American Conservation. [NF]

19)  Two Hearted River Watershed Management Plan. [NF]

20)  Stanley Wells. Coffee With Shakespeare. [NF]

21)  Katherine Duncan Jones. Shakespeare: An Ungentle Life. [NF]

22)  Suzanne Collins. Catching Fire.

23)  Jim Harrison. The Great Leader.

24)  Howard Papp. The View From the Creek: Notes From Lake Superior’s Ojibwe Country. [NF]

25)  Trevor Burnard. Mastery, Tyranny & Desire: Thomas Thistelewood and Slaves in the Anglo-Jamaican World. [NF]

26)  David Treuer. Rez Life. [NF]

27)  Robert Douglas Fairhurst. Becoming Dickens: The Invention of a Novelist.[NF]

28)  Carter Niemeyer. Wolfer [NF]

29)  Bill Holm. The Music of Failure. [NF]

30)  John Krakauer. Under the Banner of Heaven. [NF]

31)  Ed Decker and Dave Hunt. The God Makers. [NF]

32)  Grace Tiffany. Erotic Beasts & Social Monsters: Shakespeare, Jonson, and Comic Androgyny. [NF]

33)  Jim Harrison. Songs of Unreason. [P]

34)  Paul W. Mapp. The Elusive West and the Contest for Empire. [NF]

35)  Bill Holm. The Heart Can Be Filled Anywhere. [NF]

36)  Bill Holm. The Windows of Brimness: An American in Iceland. [NF]

37)  Ian Stewart. Another Fine Math You’ve Gotten Me Into.[NF]

38)  Walt Harrington. The Everlasting Stream: A True Story of Rabbits, Guns, Friendship, and Family. [NF]

39)  Albert E. Cole. The Great Black Wolves.

40)  Anita Brookner. Hotel Du Lac.

41)  Carl Hiassen. Kick Ass. [NF]

42)  Rick Bragg. The Prince of Frogtown. [NF]

43)  Bill Holm. Eccentric Islands. [NF]

44)  Rita Crosby. Quiet Hero. [NF]

45)  Joseph Heywood. Red Jacket. [MS]

46)  Daniel K. Richter. Before The Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts.[NF]

47)  Jaroslav Hasek. The Fateful Adventures of the Good Soldier Svejk: Book One.

48)  W.D. Hulbert. The Dappled King. A Tale of a Northern Trout Stream. [NF]

49)  Ed Gray. General of the Army:George C. Marshall: Soldier & Statesman. [NF]

50)  Suzanne Collins. Mockingjay.

51)  Patrick F.McManus. The Blight Way

52)  Bill Holm. Cabins of Minnesota. [NF]

53)  Laurence Durrell. Bitter Lemons. [NF]

54)  Wm. H Glass. Finding a Form: Essays. [NF]

55)  Tom Franklin. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.

56)  Wallace Stevens. The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination.[NF]

57)  Rob Ruck. The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic. [NF]

58)  H.A. Dorfman & Karl Kuell. The Mental Game of Baseball: A Guide to Peak Performance. [NF]

59)  Joseph Heywood. Red Jacket [Page Proofs]

60)  John Fowles. Wormholes: Essays and Occasional Writings. [NF]

61)  Joseph Heywood. Killing A Cold One. [MS]

62)  E.M.Forster. Aspects of the Novel. [NF]

63)  David Lodge. The Art of Fiction. [NF]

64)  Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The General in His Labyrinth.

65)  Tim Parks. Hell and Back: Reflections on Writers and Writing, From Dante to Rushdie. [NF]

66)  Cordelia Candelaria. Seeking the Perfect Game: Baseball in America’s Literature. [NF]

67)  Philip Kerr. Prague Fatale.

68)  Robert N. Bellah, et al. Habits of the Heart [NF]

69)  Michigan Department of Natural Resources & Environment. Law Enforcement 125th Anniversary. [MS- Proofs]

70)  Carlo Ginzburg. The Cheese and the Worm. [NF]

71)  Christopher Fowler. The Memory of Blood.

72)  Jose Ortega y Gasset. Meditations on Hunting. [NF]

73)  Hans Helmut Kurst. Officer Factory.

74)  Dan O’Neil. The Firecracker Boys. [NF]

75)  Daniel Woodrell. The Outlaw Album.

76)  Margaret E. Murie. Two in the Far North. [NF]

77)  John Grisham. Playing for Pizza.

78)  George Orwell. A Collection of Essays. [NF]

79)  Carlos Ginzburg. Threads and Traces: True False Fictive. [NF]

80)  John Grisham. The Brethren

81)  Peter Matthiessen. Far Tortuga.

82)  Arturo Perez-Reverte. The Fencing Master

83)  Jay Tolson, Ed. The Correspondence of Shelby Foote & Walker Percy. [NF]

84)  Carlo Ginzburg. The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries. [NF]

85)  Tad Crawford. A Floating Life. [ARC, Novel]

86)  Arturo Perez-Reverte. The Seville Communion.

87)  Arturo Perez-Reverte. The Queen of the South.

88)  Marc Bloch. The Historian’s Craft. [NF]

89)  Gunter Grass. My Century. [1999]

90)  Joseph L. Arbena, Ed. Sport and Society in Latin America: Diffusion, Dependency, and the Rise of Mass Culture. [NF]

91)  Joseph Heywood. Red Jacket. [Proofs]

92)  Joseph Heywood. “Black Behind the  Black.” [SS]

93)  Joseph Heywood. “The Third Partner.” [SS]

94)   Joseph Heywood. Killing A Cold One.  [MS]

95)  Joseph Heywood. Brown Ball: A Summer Joy and Suffering.  [MS]

96)  Joseph Heywood. Jabbertown[MS]

97)  Daniel Woodrell. Woe To Live On.

98)  William Alexander Percy. Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter’s Son. [1941] [NF]

99)  Josefa Heifetz Byrne. Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words. [NF]

100)          Tom Anderson. Things That Bite. [NF]

101)           Molly Gloss. Wild Life.

102)          Clyde L. L. Newnom. Michigan’s Thirty-Seven Million Acres of Diamonds. [1927] [NF]

103)          Michael Wex. Born To Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Is Moods. [NF]

104)          Bill Bryson. Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words: A Writer’s Guide to Getting It Right. [NF]

105)          Ray Ovington. Tactics on Trout. [1969] [NF]

106)          Fred Kogos. A Dictionary of Yiddish Slang & Idioms. [1966] [NF]

107)          Kathleen Stocking. Letters From The Leelanau: Essays of People and Place. [1990] [NF]

108)          Robert Leighton Dresser. The History of Pike Lake: Luce County, Michigan [NF]

109)          Larry Chabot. Saving Our Sons: How the CCC Rescued A Generation of Upper Michigan Men. [NF]

110)          Luce County Historical Society, Minnie Ida Mattson, Comp. Luce County History: Centennial Issue. [NF]

111)          Luce County Historical Society, Minnie Ida Mattson, Comp, Ed. The History of Luce County from Its Earliest Recorded Beginning. [NF]

112)          Sprague Taylor. Tahquamenon Country: A Look At Its Past. [NF]

113)          Jan McAdams Huttenstine. Remotely Yours: A Historic Journey Into The Whitefish Point Area. [NF]

114)          Dutch Hanes, Delbert Musgrave, and Bohn Musgrave. History of Columbus Township. [NF]

115)          Domingo Martinez. The Boy Kings of Texas: A Memoir. [NF]

116)          Michael Crichton. Pirate Latitudes.

117)          Shelby Foote. The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume I– Fort Sumter to Perryville. [NF]

118)          Shelby Foote. The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume II – Fredericksburg to Meridian [NF]

119)          Shelby Foote. The Civil War: A Narrative:Volume III – Red River to Appomatox. [NF]

120)          Robert A. Heinlein. JOB: A Comedy of Justice.

121)          Daniel Woodrell. Tomato Red.

122)          Arturo Perez-Reverte. The Club Dumas.

123)          Henry Kisor. Hang Fire. [MS]

124)          Tom Franklin. Smonk.

125)          Umberto Eco. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana.

126)          Joseph Heywood. Hard Ground: Woods Cop Stories. [MS]

127)          John Lescroart. Rasputin’s Revenge.

128)          Ian Rankin. Knots and Crosses.

129)           Robert L. Phillips, Jr. Shelby Foote: Novelist and Historian. [NF]

130)          Erik Larson. In the Garden of Beasts.[NF]

131)          Mickey Mantle and Phil Pepe. Mickey Mantle: My Favorite Summer 1956.[NF]

132)          Carlo Ginzburg. Clues, Myths and the Historical Method. [NF

133)          Robert W. Henderson. Ball, Bat and Bishop: The Origin of Ball Games. [NF]

134)          Edward Marston. The Merry Devils.

135)          Knox Jamison. Bergland. [NF]

136)          Edward Marston. The Roaring Boy.

137)          Frank Deford. The Entitled.
Gary Soto. Baseball in April.

138)          Robert Linsenman. Snowblood’s Journal. [MS]

139)          Mark Rucker and Peter C. Bjarkman. Smoke: The Romance and Lore of Cuban Baseball. [NF]

140)          W.P. Kinsella. The Iowa Baseball Confederacy.

141)          Marcel Proust. On Art and Literature. [NF]

142)          Ed Davison. Uncle Ed Said. [NF]

143)          John Smolens. Quarantine.

144)          Peter Heller. The Dog Stars.

145)          John Knott. Imagining the Forest. Narratives of Michigan and the Upper Midwest. [NF]

146)          Stephen Marche. How Shakespeare Changed Everything. [NF]

147)          Nancy MacLean. Behind the Mask of Chivalry: The Making of the Second Ku Klux Klan. [NF]

148)          Dennis Lahane. Live by Night.

149)          Thomas Daniel Young and John Hindle, Eds. Selected Essays of John Crowe Ransom. [NF]

150)          John Crowe Ransom. Selected Poems [P]

151)          Marcel Proust. Rembrance of Things Past: Part I: Swann’s Way Within a Budding Grove.

152)          James Joyce. Ulysses.

153)          Thomas Mann. The Magic Mountain.

154)          Peter C. Bjarkman. Diamonds Around the Globe; The Encyclopedia of International Baseball. [NF]

155)          Bill Wise. Louis Sockalexis: Native American Baseball Pioneer. [NF]

156)          Wallace Stegner. Where The Bluebird Sings to the Lemonade Springs. [NF]

01 Oct

Seasonal Speculation: Traverse City Reading/Signing Next Up


Clear of fog.

DAY 130: Sunday, Sept. 30, DEER PARK—A windless pacific day, even the animals are quiet. Having been here several times in this season you begin to notice things. For example, last year the local eagles disappeared from Sept 23-27, one showed on the 28th and absent again Sept 29-30. This year no eagles Sept 24-28, one showed on the 29th and none on the 30th. I posit that they are not here because they are on the river feeding on salmon both fresh-run and sloughing carcasses. That’s part of the attraction of living here, you get to sense and see and feel the rhythms of the place, which are far more apparent out in the woods, than in some suburban crawleyhood where noise “obliterates” life and the rhythms are all artificial, related almost exclusively to mass entertainment events. Here is a great line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Claudius addressing his queen: “O Gertrude, Gertrude/ When sorrows come, they come not in single spies/ But in battalions.” A poetic way of saying troubles and sorrow come in bunches. Our dog is seriously unwell and this dulls every other part of life, present and future.

We’ll be at Horizon Books in Traverse City next Saturday (Oct. 6), from Noon until 2 P.M. Will read short stories from the coming April collection.  Some photos of the lake this morning follow. Our color is coming on quickly now. Probably we’ll take Shanny and make a color tour tomorrow; or even later today.  We continue to have little contact with the presidential campaign, but I continue to get 3-5 emails a day from campaigns. Do they do no evaluation? Of course they don’t. They just keep sending. Pathetic more than sad. A mere fiver contribution from me accomplishes squat and is designed only by the campaign people to make me think I count, when they know and I damn well know I don’t. These elections are about corporations and the rich using Super PACS to try to buy the White House. My $5  is better spent on other things that promise something real and useful. Anybody ever notice there’s only one letter difference between politicking and potlicking? Or notice that the scent of politics is what Limpy Allerdyce calls “poofume,” you know that scent you get when you open the privy door right after another depositor has been there? Just saying. Over.



When your dog is a pup, this is called spoiling the dog.
When your dog is ten and sick, it’s called serving your loyal friend.



Lonnir copper wraps Lezlee’s agate for a necklace. Yep, fish pattern on the stone. Nope, we didn’t find it.




Shanny takes break from reading Bob Linsenman’s Snowblood’s Journal.



Our celestial neighbor, Mo Moon.



Saturday morning moon rise.



Morning fog on Muskallonge




01 Oct

Northwoods Call, in Hibernation 18 Months, Apes Phoenix, Returns to Journalistic Life.

DAY 128:Friday, September 28, DEER PARK: The Northwoods Call, our state’s premier outdoor/conservation news publication went belly up 18 months ago after 59 years in print when outspoken editor Glen “Shep” Sheppard passed away. Fridays are mail day here, and I got a postcard from the new owners, Newshound Productions of Kalamazoo, our own home turf. Never heard of the outfit. So I went to their website:

Where I was asked to fill out a questionnaire presumably aimed at letting the new owners fine-tune their publishing plans. Primarily they are talking about an electronic publication, but for  premium added $$  you can get print also. Guess what? Their “electronics” kicked my questionnaire back twice. I said screw it and wrote a snippy note and got a professional and calm return message from long-time newsman Mike VanBuren this morning, telling me he’d had at least one other such report, but dozens of others had completed the survey without a problem,  nevertheless, he would look into it. This is exactly how Shep would have responded and I took this as a great sign for the future.


Van Buren is a long-time newshawk and has some solid conservation tickets as an activist, and award-winning conservation reporter. He seems to have the chops needed to make this work, and I’m pretty sure he knows this, but I would remind him (as a Kalamazoo Gazette Geezers Poker Club Member, and long-time viewer of the news scene) that what made the Call was Shep’s straight-on reputation, and the cri de coeur positions the old Army veteran took.  I was Shep’s volunteer editorial cartoonist for more than 15 years and he and I had our differences of opinion. I also did illustrations for him from time to time, and wrote various columns about a variety of subjects, the main one being what Shep and I called the Me-and- Snooker series. With Shep you always understood where he stood, AND he listened carefully to opposing viewpoints, and didn’t reject them out of hand. His litmus test though, was not him, but this: “The Call is an admittedly biased newspaper dedicated to the proposition that there is only one side in any issue involving resources: NATURE’S.”


People knew who Shep was and what he and the publication stood for.  My CO pals admired him for his candor, though at least one DNR director banned having the publication on the 5th Floor of the Mason Building because he was sure Shep was an enemy and out to get him and his people. He wasn’t. The COs in the trenches knew that.


Bottom line: all kinds of folks rallied to him, not the publication, Mike, you’ll have to accomplish something similar and this will take time and trials by fire. I wish you luck. The name: THE NORTH WOODS CALL, has huge editorial equity, built over 59 years, first by founder Margaret Gahagan, and after her by Glen and Mary Lou Sheppard. We, and the natural resources of our great state have never needed a hard-hitting, candid pro-conservation/resource paper more than we need it now. As Shep might growl, “Take no prisoners and get her done, son.”


01 Oct

How We Dance Around Death in Words

I was sort of trolling for names through the web, using obits from the 19th and 18th centuries (got Domathilda Locoursiere), and as I read I began to notice how obits handled their news. I can remember in J School having to write obits, not so easy as it seems superficially.

Let me just skim over some direct lifts from the reports. I’ve added the sort of questions a modern news editor (Ed.) might ask of the writer tongue-in-cheek, of course (which as I look at it might somewhere have been a line in these real obits). These are the sorts of blue pencil interrogatories our journalism profs at MSU used to scribble on our yellow dog drafts.:

  • “Dropped dead this morning.” [Ed. Of What?]
  • “Called to his final rest.” [Ed. Where exactly IS that?”]
  • “Answered his final summons last Friday.” [Ed. Served by whom?]
  • “Death due to general disability.” [Ed. Seriously, we need some details.]
  • “Ailments incident to old age caused her death.” [Ed. Ailments such as? We all hope to reach old age, and maybe we’re just curious.]
  • “Died following a major operation.” [Ed. For what?  Was there a reason or is this some kind of new-fangled destination surgery deal?]
  • “…Called from this earth.” [Ed. Where to? Students are increasingly  ignorant of world geography, so let’s at least provide a hint – if we can.]
  • “Passed away last Saturday, just before the midnight hour. For several days previous to her death it was evident the end was near.”[Ed. Evident in what way? Details, details, details!]
  • “A heart ailment from which he had suffered since last April was stated as the cause of death.” [Ed. Stated by whom? Is there some reason to think this a dubious statement? If not, why say it?]
  • “Passed away.” [Ed. You mean the subject is deceased or more to the point, dead?]
  • “Passed to the Great Beyond on Sunday.” [Ed. Which is where? Does the Sunday date have relevance to destination?]
  • “Death claimed…” [Ed. How, in a letter, by decree, what?]
  • HEADLINE: Pioneer of City Dead. [Ed. Geez, this headline leads one to suspect there’s an organization  of the city dead in place, zombies, maybe?]
  • “The Italian man who accidentally shot himself about two weeks ago has died. He was out hunting when the gun went off by accident, went into his face, hands, and eyes. Six shots were taken out of the eyes. He was 30. [Ed. How is the man being Italian relevant to this story?]
  • “…died at the Houghton County Jail yesterday. He had been un-well for some time and had been drinking heavily of late. [Ed. Unwell from what cause? Alcoholism?]
  • “…died yesterday at the insane asylum, age 26.” [Ed. That’s it, Died in the looney bin, no other details? Are we talking about a patient, a custodian or other staff member?]
  • “Age, 17, died of typhoid fever at her home yesterday.” [Ed. Is her family house quarantined? Any other cases? Typhoid rarely comes one case at a time.]
  • “11-month old daughter died of cholera infection yesterday.” [Ed. Any notion what brought the cholera, are public health people looking into this?]
  • “…met death Sunday morning while baling hay on his property.” [Ed. Hay or straw? There’s a difference, you know.]
  • “…found dead in the hold of the ship BULGARIAN. It is supposed he fell down to the bottom of the ship’s hold.” [Ed. Supposed by whom?]
  • “John Makander is the name of the unknown man who was sent down from Calumet Sunday to be taken to the Houghton County Poor Farm, but was so sick on arrival he was sent to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hancock, where he died Monday afternoon. He was a total stranger to these parts. He was buried in Potter’s Field.” [Ed. If he is a total stranger  to these parts (everywhere around here or only up in Calumet, eh?) And said stranger is an unknown man, how did we learn his name?]
  • “Died at home due to congestion of the brain.”[Ed. Like bad sinus or something? Please explain.]
  • “Age 76, she died of old age.” [Ed. Years alone are lethal?]
  • “Died of stomach hemorrhage.” [Ed. Like an ulcer, or ate ground glass? What caused the bleeding?]
  • “62, died of complications of disease.”[Ed. C’mon. Name some, and the disease while you’re at it.]
  • “56, he had an operation that resulted in his death.” [Ed. So there is some sort of destination hobby thing going on in the community? This is the second case you’ve reported. Shouldn’t that suggest more questions and a larger story?]
  • “He died of tuberculosis.”[Ed. Overnight, when and where was it contracted, was he in isolation?]
  • “As a child, Velma was wounded during a wild shooting match in Beaverton in 1901. On June 5, a drunk and mean Will Arnell Jr. got into a gunfight on Brown Street with Sam Dopp. Dopp shot Arnell twice in the stomach. Dopp and others entered the Commercial House Hotel, which Arnell managed. There they found Arnell’s five-year-old daughter, Reah, dead, Arnell’s wife, May, dying, and Arnell’s invalid mother and brother, Frank, both wounded, all from gunshot wounds. Arnell has also shot his sister Maude, who was uninjured. Velma had been wounded by shattered glass. Will Arnell Jr. was sentenced to fifteen years in Jackson Prison for manslaughter.” [Ed. This story, so scant  yet full, could serve as the nexus of a novel. Why the gunfight? Why manslaughter and not murder? The story begs all kinds of questions, which of course a novelist can feel artistically free to answer, as long as the readers will buy the premises and explanations. Maude was shot but not injured? How? As a reporter you have to stick with the damn truth, so do it!]

At times obits have been flowery and religious, other times Sergeant Fridayish (just the facts…). Would be interesting to do a study of a prolonged period to see what changes took place in how death was described, when and perhaps why.

Oh yeah, I have an idea for a website to filter all political and election news. We’ll call it But wait: I just looked at the web: Damn, there’s already a domain with that name! Damn, back to the drawing board. Over.

01 Oct

Just A Little History: Michigan County Names

Here are some bracket dates to loosely keep in mind when thinking of Michigan’s history: 1763-1783, Quebec Territory; 1787-1899, Northwest Territory; 1800-1805, Ohio/Indian Territory; 1805-1837, Michigan Territory; 1837, Michigan became a state.

Now, here’s the interesting stuff, a brief look at county names, some of which (many of which) I’ve never heard or read before.

  • Aishcum County, f. 1840, became Lake County, 1843.
  • Anamickee County, f. 1840, became Alpena County, 1843.
  • Bleeker County, f. 1861, became Menominee County, 1863.
  • Cheonoquet County, f. 1840, became Montmorency County, 1843.
  • Isle Royal County, f. 1875 from Keweenaw County, disbanded in 1897, returned to Keweenaw.
  • Kanotin County, f. 1840, renamed Iosco County, 1843.
  • Kautawaubet County, f. 1840, renamed Wexford County, 1843.
  • Kaykakee County, f. 1840, renamed Clare County, 1843.
  • Keskkauko County, f. 1840, renamed Charlevoix County, 1843, annexed to Emmet County, 1853, split into Emmet and Charlevoix Counties in 1869.
  • Manitou County, f.1855, disbanded 1861, attached to Mackinac County 1865, then to Leelanau County, reattached to Mackinac 1869, disbanded and abolished 1895, parts given to Charlevoix and Leelanau Counties.
  • Maegisee County, f. 1840, renamed Antrim County, 1843
  • Michilimackinac County, f. 1818, renamed Mackinac County, 1843.
  • Mikenauk County, f. 1840, renamed Roscmmon County, 1843.
  • Newegon County, f. 1840, renamed Alcona County, 1843.
  • Notepekago County, f. 1840, renamed Mason County, 1843.
  • Okkuddo County, f. 1840, renamed Otsego County, 1843.
  • Omeena County, f. 1840 from part of Mackinac County, annexed to Grand Traverse County, 1853.
  • Reshkauko County, f. 1840, renamed Charlevoix County, 1843.
  • Shawano County, f. 1818, renamed Crawford County, 1843.
  • Tonedagana County, f. 1840, renamed Emmet County, 1843.
  • Unwattin County, f. 1840, renamed Osceola County, 1843.
  • Wabassee County, f. 1840, renamed Kalkaska County, 1843.
  • Washington County formed from Marquette County in 1867, declared “unconstitutional,” returned to Marquette County.
  • Wyandot County, f. 1840, from Mackinac County, annexed to Cheboygan County, 1853.

You get the feeling that whatever sympathy lay with using native American words and leaders for county names in 1840 was gone three years later.

28 Sep

“Daylight in the Swamp!”

This was the call used by camp cooks/flunkies to rouse loggers in the morning. I think this nearly every morning when we venture outside, usually between 6-8 A.M. But here there are not mumbling, stinky loggers, just Jambe Longue’s slippers scuffing and the dog’s nails ticking the floor or deck, and all talk at a minimum, not for religious or aesthetic  reasons but because none of us,  Shanahan included, are  true morning creatures.

One of the things that draws us to this tiny remote corner of the Yoop is the lack of man-made sound found here, and my impression is  that the number of such places where one can escape such sounds are decreasing probably in all states.

It is the silence in Deer Park that draws us as much as all the other attractions, and by silence I mean the lack of manmade sounds. Small aircraft flyovers are rare, perhaps once or twice a summer, although in May when we arrived the afternoon of the Duck Lake crown-fire we had a few days of water-bombers dipping liquid ammo out of Muskallonge Lake – an exceptional event in all ways. We never hear commercial air traffic, but we can on occasion see high contrails marking sky-paths toward Europe or the Far East.

We have some vehicle traffic on the Deer Park Truck Trail (also called H-37 or CR 407), but this almost never begins until after 0700 and is almost complete by 2000 at night. Less during weekdays than on weekends. Less before Memorial Day and after Labor Day. Sirens, ubiquitous in Portage where we live in winter, only once up here in all of our time in the cabin. Down there I always tell myself this represents the best in society, of folks rushing to help others, but having spent so much time with COs, I also know that sirens can mark troubles. And I also understand that the lack of sirens up here signifies just how far we are from emergency medical help (35 miles).

We’ve spent 12 ½ months here in the past four years, which makes us 25-percenters at this point, not quite residents, not quite tourists, what our friend Mike Brown called gray things when we were fishing yesterday. I like that. Gray things. He must’ve been looking at my hair!

We have quite a lot of boats on the lake, but the water body is such that we almost never hear them, and only once or twice a year does some hotrod show up with PWC to dart around the lake. People come here to kayak or to fish, not aquatic motor-heading.

Neighbors? We have Ross and Carla to our west, full-time, Occasional guests in the rental cabin next door, Bonnie in the next cabin to the east and her son Marty and wife Mary Sue here for part of the summer. Stinson’s live up the dirt road to the north. Joe runs a little country grocery/beer supply house just to the east. Lezlee comes up from down below on occasion to her place just down from Ross and Carla, and Terry comes up to fish some in summer. He’s in the place across from Lezlee. The unofficial mayor of Deer Park, Don Madorsky, lives up0 past Stinsons on Lake Superior and he and his dog Jake visit Bonnie from time to time. Don is our go-to guy for information about the area, and is famous for his blueberry wine.

But this is it for immediate human life and most of the time we hear and see no one and find ourselves in a state of silence, so much so that we can recognize individual vehicles two hundred yards away.

The rest of our accoustasphere is natural. I’m not a religious person, that is, I don’t ascribe to churches and their goings-on, but I sense a greater power than mankind behind this earth of ours, a force that doesn’t interfere, a creator that set all this in motion and went off to a cosmic bowling tournament, or something. God is what most people call this force, as do I, but it’s not the least bit satisfying as a term. This probably makes me a Diest, if a label is needed, but in truth I love to think of God as a person with a  name like Gus, a sort of pipe-smoking cosmic tinkerer. But enough of that.

The natural sounds are few at night. Occasional complaints of sea birds on Bill’s Peninsula, coyote packs, the rare lone wolf call, flutter of bird wings overhead, the scampering of coons looking for easy meals, not much more. The stars are bright up here, unhindered by manmade light pollution and we can see he Milky Way and in fall the aurora borealis. I lost all of the romance over stars in navigation school in 1965-66: stars to me are mathematically determined pinpoints of light, which if they appeared where my pre-computations said they would, good deal. I shot the azimuth and recorded it and after shooting three stars, sat down, triangulated a fix and gave the pilots a new heading to keep us on our intended course over the ground. Not much romance in that. I used to be able to name about 50-60 stars, but fewer than ten now.  I just like knowing they are there and visible and require nothing more from them than their presence.

First light brings a wake-up to the natural world. Sometimes the morning coyote hunt. Seabirds yakking and screaming like little girls having their pigtails pulled by little brothers. Crows. Some sqawkery from sand hill cranes getting ready to fly to a day-feed area. Once in a while a great blue heron graaks in a language only other herons can know. Songbirds flit through the trees in the morning trillings sweet calls, and blue jays when they are here sound like oogah horns, grating on the other music. During the day we hear the soft thrum of hummingbird wings as they take nectar from our pink, white, and red impatiens, or hovering at the glass door to look at orange or red hats hung on hooks just inside.

We hear the occasion fish splash, taking a mayfly, or otters cavorting near shore. In fall we walk on caribou moss (also called reindeer lichen) and it crunches like Fritos under our boots. When it has rained the moss is soft and inviting like a cushion.

The sound that is almost always with us is either wind in the oaks and hemlocks and white pines from south blows, to the crash and roar of Lake Superior’s surf under northerlies. We don’t even have to look at our wind flag, just step outside the cabin. If there’s surf sound, we have a north wind.

Last night our adolescent coon returned. This time he moved the five-gallon water jug and carried a couple of bags of rocks in Ziplocs off the porch to nibble and claw to see if any food inside. No real damage, just youthful curiosity at work. We never heard the visitor, only found evidence of the visit this morning.

Some mornings we awake to find deer staring at jalapeno pepper plants, trying to decide if a sample is in order. Not so far. Tracks show two deer passed by last night, probably headed for the grass at Ross and Carla’s place.

We’ve not heard bear dogs since opening day, or encountered them on the roads. This is rare. Not sure what it means, if anything. With a week straight of rain, the hounds may have been thwarted in scent-detection. In normal years we hear bear hounds, but we see few bird hunters around here. Our spruce grouse population seems way up and pats down from last year. But someone told me about coming north on Borgstrom Road (far south county) the other night and seeing dozens of timber-doodles (migratory woodcock).

Yesterday at the mouth of the Two Hearted River we had an osprey hovering, soaring overhead for almost 30 minutes looking for an opportunistic BGO (Beach-Ganking-Opportunity).

On windless summer days we can feel the thrum of Great Lakes tankers traveling east of west on Lake Superior, many miles north of us. Sometimes you see feel them long before you see them. And we lie 300 yards from the big lake and we can feel and sometimes hear them here.

Bald eagles are a common sight, and often they are 50-75 yards away eating their newest fish kill. Golden eagles also show up, but not frequently,

Probably the most raucous sound we hear (Waaakkk!) comes from a colony of Caspian terns, the world’s largest tern in the world. Coral red bill (that’s fancy talk for bright orange). Our crowd has moved down south somewhere. (They didn’t leave a note.) Their “call” reminds us of the wicked witch of the west – “Andyorelittledogtoo!)

But we are accustomed to them and after a while don’t even hear them.

I try to think of them adding to the natural symphony, sort of like something clattery and abrasive in Spike Jones tune. They’re part of the deal.

What we don’t have here, but have too much of back home are kids in cars with music blaring so loudly it HAS to be blowing out their eardrums. Once in four years we heard vehicle radio music, a country tune from a passing motorcycle, but none of that hip-hopeless thumpa-thumpa-thump faux iambic pentameter with the feet and rhyme schemes of remedial fifth grade students. We miss that not at all.

The dog here can wander as he pleases and act as a real dog, unfenced, unleashed, unrestrained.

Morning sun throws lift shafts though our cedars.

Fall avian migrations are well underway. Last night some European starlings flitted through with their usual Whistle-Pop-Whirr-Zzt. And I was reminded that most of us confuse the starlings with common grackles, those the iridescent blue-green-headed, purple black feathered birds My friend Max calls “crackles” because of their sounds.

Here’s the point: Grackles (crackles) are native to North America. The starlings aren’t and the reason they’re here is downright peculiar. A gentleman in New York City, name of Eugene Schiffehn, loved birds and Wm. Shakespeare and was part of a movement to bring to America every bird mentioned in Shakespeares’s work. Noble goal or nut case? Probably measures of both.  But the Law of Unintended Consequences (Merton’s Law) turned out thusly: Mr. Schiffehn planted 60 starlings from Europe in New York City in 1890 and another batch of 40 imports also that year, a total of 100 birds, which have now grown to an estimated 200 million. Wow, and  Le barde incomparable et sans egal only mentions starlings but once in his ouvre, that solo mention in Henry IV. Life is wonderfully strange.

The thing that perhaps appeals most of all up here is the relative disorderliness of nature. You find young and old, dying and dead and entirely healthy trees of all species growing and passing with each other, sort of a diversity thing with death and life intermingled in what writer Kathleen Dean Moore calls “organic wholeness,” in her words, “the sense of the continuity of life given by the presence of trees of all ages; evidence of the ‘stream of living things’ in which death mingles with rebirth.”  Yeah… what she said, and what does this suggest for our own lame species in all of this? For most of our history (recorded and probably unrecorded as well) we mimicked trees and lived in similar mixed society with our extended families, but in most places this structure is now fragmented and broken  by geography and relations living far apart for various reasons, and having no knowledge of others’ lives. Huh. Makes me wonder and think. The woods and silence up here encourage that and help remind us that alone and lonely are not synonymous.  Ave youse a bloody good dye, eh. Over.

28 Sep

A Separate Society of Sand Spikers

DAY 125, Wednesday, September 26, DEER PARK – Took the day off from writing. Max Stinson picked me up at 0700 in rain and we fetched Mike Brown from his place in heavy rain and headed east on Rabbit Patch Road. Along the way we saw a flying squirrel skitter across in front of us. We parked a couple of hundred yards from the mouth fo the Two Hearted River and humped our gear to the beach where an estimated 30 people were already set up with rods in sand spikes, casting spawn bags into a 5-10 mph north wind. 42 degrees, but we left the rain behind us and other than cold, not a bad morning. For both Max and me, our first time using spawn bags. Pretty simple, and a one-ounce pyramid weight to sling out as far out as you can, set the pole in your “sand spike,” and watch the rod tip. Next time we’ll bring chairs, and more coffee. Some mornings a little brandy or Jack Daniels might also be in order.

I loved watching he people around us. One family with three girls, two oldest perhaps 3 and 7 and dad and mom let both girls play the fish on each hook-up. VERY cool. Even watched mom set a hook while holding a toddler! They caught several fish. Two young guys beside us hooked three, got in two. Most folks there are downstate retirees, come up to the campground an stay a couple of weeks to fish and have done this for many years. Mike caught our only fish, a smallish female, filled with eggs. The guys in the cabin next door got  one of Jambe Longue’s recipes and some spices from her, and ate if for lunch. Beautiful flesh.

An added attraction at this site is the availability of agates. I found 8 small ones, nothing spectacular, right where we stood.  I liked that a lot, but when your head is down you may miss some strikes. I hope I didn’t, but we’ll be going back. Kings stage along the beach before heading upriver to spawn, then pinks and cohos. Next there will be a run of Menominees, followed by steelhead (the fishing for these is best during deer season!) Once in a while someone brings in a whitefish.

Mike Brown said sometimes the beach is really crowded with anglers and it is like a society within a society, very interesting to discover. Seen solo anglers fishing with sand spikes, but never before a crowd. Cool So much to do in our great state, but you have to get off your couch and then get off the main roads, and get out of your vehicle and walk a bit. The reward is worth it. I’m posting some pix to give some flavor.  Glorious time of year in the Yoop, eh. Over

Pix follow and a Friday update: Fish biting like crazy today at the mouth, probably pushed by front and NE winds coming in after midnight. Over.

Coho: for lunch!

Max the Watcher.

Mike Brown playing his fish.

Cometh the Sun

Starting them young.

Morning at the mouth of the Two Hearted Rivers in the company of sand-spikers.

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