Sort of a memorable time. June first we made a newspaper run and took some photos of the ice in Keweenaw Bay, then out to a secret brook trout pond for some swamp and skeet photos. .8 inch of rain since yesterday. Hard at work on a short story. Photos follow. Enjoy.
Retired CO Bob Schnieder came up with an album of photos from his long career. Some great stuff.[This damn Word System sucks. top photo is of political effigies; Photos 2: Sgt. Dave Palo and Bob Schnieder. Hunter killed a bear, claiming self-defense; the COs did a necropsy, found that the bullet entered the butt and exited the chest. Not exactly confirming the hunter’s “claim.” Ticket issued, bear confiscated. Photo 3: Some of Da Boys. Second from Left, the late Ralph Bennett retired as Sergeant, was a long-time DNR pilot and pioneered the use of aircraft in detecting night hunters. Last in line is Charlie Turk, all 6-6 or 6-7 of him, from Lake County, where locals called him King Kong. Photo 4: Now COs drive 4WD trucks equipped for the backroads and woods, but once upon a time they drove sedans, that were not exactly conducive to off-road or backroad travel. Photo 5 and 6: Bob with a guy’s pet “cougar” which was wonderful when young, but at the size shown, like to crawl up on the fridge and attack anyone who approached. Owner asked DNR to take care of the problem. The young animal was given to a zoo. Photo 7: Back in the day, officers spent a lot of time knocking out beaver dams, to release trapped trout and to keep water moving over spawning gravel. Often they used dynamite to start the day’s business, but then you sometimes had to finish the job manually. Photo 8: Sometime you overshot your vehicle’s limits. Photo 9: A second amendment photo, “Thank you for your service.” Game wardens used to see this gesture quite frequently.
Our latest sanctum sanctorum is new only to us. Formerly a Henry Ford lumber mill, the facility is new the Michigan Tech Forestry Campus, and houses here date to 1938. Several houses are for rent by night, week or longer. There are 17 full-time residents, including kids and it is a serene, idyllic place. Henry Ford’s vehicles had a lot of wood in them, even in frames etc (not just external wood for the Woodies). There was a second mill north of her in Pequaming, and a third, I think, in Big Bay, north of Marquette. The junior class of forestry students will not arrive until August. Until then, we expect continued virtual solitude. After five years in less than 280-sq-feet, this 1,400-sq-ft abode seems comparatively palatial. The dog sleeps in various rooms, just to prove he can. And so many windows and so much LIGHT. Lonnie has a little upstairs studio with northeast light flooding in. Much of the glass in the windows is original from 1938, and has a visible rippled effect under certain light conditions. Work continues. Today we mailed page proofs of Lute Bapcat’s second book back to the publisher. The tile is MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN. Normally we move pages and the like electronically, but I have had woes with Adobe for more than a year, did not feel confident with the electronic editing set up so sent actual pages – the old fashioned way. I can’t proof pages on line, have to print them off and read them like a book. How anyone can truly read on a screen truly escapes me. As in Deer Park, we get mail here weekly, for which we pay the US Postal Service $17, a week for six months. We like the once weekly delivery and as long as we have the bills square, it’s not a problem. Also, there’s a Christmas feel to getting a box or big envelope of mail all at once. With MOUNTAINS now “put to bed” (for my part), the next project up is the next short story collection, which will issue next spring under the title HARDER GROUND, 28-30 more stories, all original, each with a female protagonist. I didn’t plan it this way, just worked out that way, which is fine. A third collection is being assembled slowly, working title of UNCHARTED EDGES, looking at people caught in some strange and challenging situations and territory. The tenth Grady Service story is called BUCKULAR DYSTROPHY, and should be out in the fall of 2015. I’m about halfway done with it. The title reflects an odd condition that afflicts hunters, who greedily go after big antlers or lots of antlers with no regard for the law. The book takes place mostly during the two-week firearm deer season, and looks at some extreme cases. When I first started the Woods Cop series with ICE HUNTER, I gave my then agent the synopsis of a dozen books and plots. Nine books in I haven’t hit half of those, ergo I expect at least 12 books in the series, perhaps more, but time and reality will tell. I wrote that memo fourteen years ago, had no idea the books would persist so well. Writers seldom talk about reading, which is actually an important part of our creative process. It is a rare person who becomes an author without a serious reading habit and almost all of us acquired said habit at public libraries. Our parents were readers. There were lots of books in the house, and our parents took us to the library. Simple formula for producing readers I think. I don’t remember ever reading any “kids books,” always found them foolish and insipid with nice pictures. I started with print only, like Robinson Crusoe and went from there. (Actully I preferred looking at breasts in NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, but that’s another story, and not a unique one.) I read more widely now in the book world than at any time in my life. In my professional years I was focused on news, papers, mags, scientific journals, etc, now it is more books than anything else and I read what I’d estimate to be 70:30 nonfiction over fiction. My list is eclectic, which fits my taste. If I have the slightest curiosity in a subject, or interest in the author, I’ll read it. And once I find an author I like, I’ll go back and read all of his or her works. For some things, like one future book in my mind, I have a shelf of very specific world war I stuff to help background me and I will be plowing through all that as the summer goes on, and creating a notebook as I go. Pretty standard method of operation. Not sure if I got this in previous blogs, but sometime within the next 18 months Globe Pequot Lyons will publish my backlist, meaning TAXI DANCER, THE BERKUT, and THE DOMINO CONSPIRACY. At that point my ouvre (a fancy and pretentious word for one’s career ‘artistic” output) will all be in print with one publisher, at least for a brief time. Not bad after going on 30 years in this very odd, yet very fun game. Thanks to Globe Pequot-Lyons for their belief in me and my work. A breath of fresh air in these times. Promotion wise, no much in the works. Tuesday, June 17 I’ll do a live radio interview with Lissa Radke and Eric Schubring, on their program “Big Sea, Shining Water.” The program is broadcast on WOJB community radio on 88.9 FM out of Ashland, Wisconsin. Time is 0825 Wisconsin time and 0925 Michigan time. My only scheduled face-to-face signing is at at Snowbound Books in September to kick off the new Lute Bapcat story, but we haven’t yet settled on the date, which will be contingent on actual pub date. Have to confess I’m not into a solid writing sked yet, but it seems like the early morning shift is raising its ugly head, which means up around 0330 or 0400 and write until 7 or 8. Basically this means we go to bed with the birds and I wake up when they start the morning serenade, a nice natural balance. Working mornings give us and me time to explore and to fish for brook trout. The border collie genes in Shaksper make him very demanding of regular exercise and since we don’t want more porky encounters, he’s bound to a leash for now.. He turned two in January and we have formed a nice compact pack. He is a hairy but content and alert (albeit extremely hirsute) companion. We have a lake wherein the DNR planted a month or so ago, 50 brook trout with an average size of 20.4 inches. I am trying like hell to figure a way to keep all other fishermen away from such giants, not so I can keep them, but so that I can catch and name each one so it can eventually go to Heaven and St. Pisces with a name of its own. This is a selfless act, but others need to stand clear until the work is done. I drafted a long poem last night, and concluded it this morning under the preponderous title of “Alexandrines Spawned by the Work of the Dandy French Fop Raymond Roussel, Himself a Rotting Fish in the Bouquet of Fresh Flowers Wafting in Air, And How I Propose to God to make Amends to St. Pisces in the Name of Saint Fair Play, By Performing A Truly Selfless Act.” Naturally I Can’t post such a work until St. Pisces gives me a decision on the proposal. Dat’s pretty much Da Report from Da Yoop for now, youses. Dis Post includes more photos from recent explorations. Later, be well. Over.
A new week underway and we spent most of yesterday working our way out to the tip of and exploring the Abbaye Peninsula, which is Northeast of L’Anse, the peninsula standing between Keweenaw and Huron Bays. Wonderful country. You park your veek about a quarter mile from the end and hike out to the lava flows where you can see the Huron Mountains and Huron Islands to the east. Still lots of ice on the big lake and we sat and enjoyed the symphony of the water and ice symphony wrought by breakup, everything from tinkling to long squeals to massive crashes. On the way south we got our first answer to the question of whether or no Shakeper learned from his first quilling. We came upon a porky on the road and our dog went physically and aurally ballistic with the barking equivalent of, “Lemme at im, lemme at im, I’ll kill im, I’ll moydah da bum!” Great. We learned squat-nada-nil-nothing. I put hemostatis in the day pack when we got back to Big Al. We also detoured east to Big Eric’s campground for a look-see at the Huron River, which is up, but which looks almost normal, and as usual, beautiful. Michigan has so damn many beautiful spots it’s hard to keep track of them and the shame is that most of our fellow Michiganians/anders have never seen any of them. Course for most good things you’ve got to leave pavement and get your vehicle dirty. We finished the day with a fine dinner at the Hilltop. Lots of photos follow. Enjoy. More photos tomorrow. Over.
I love old newspaper accounts. The one that follows dates from the period of the next Lute Bapcat story, which will be published in September, MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN. With all the controversy over wolves these days, this old stuff about poison is interesting. Back in those days, rifles and traps proved very inferior to poison. Enjoy. Over.
From Ontonagon Herald, May 16, 1914
HED: Can’t Poison Wolves:State Law Makes It Unlawful to set out poison in the woods.
It may be news to a great many Upper Peninsula sportsmen, but is no longer lawful to use poison in killing wolves, or in fact, any other animals in the woods. The state legislature passed a law to this effect last fall, but so little publicity has been given that most trappers have remained in ignorance of it.
In fact, Deputy Game Warden William Harrington of this city, who has the Upper Peninsula under his jurisdiction, discovered the new law only a few days ago.
Heretofore, poison has been the wolf hunter’s favorite means of killing his quarry. Chunks of meat, with capsules of strychnine secreted in the middle, have been the undoing of many of these predatory animals. At times, the wolf would die soon after eating the meal. At other times it would travel for miles, and very often would not be found at all.
The real danger is in setting out poisoned meat, and reason why legislation was finally taken against this practice, is that many fur bearing animals other than the wolf have met death this way. The otter, fisher, marten, and mink especially suffered, and it is probably no exaggeration to say that thousands of dollars worth of valuable pelts have been lost to the trapper this way.
Hereafter, it will be unlawful to set out any poison in the woods, whether the game sought be wolf, fox, or the common variety of skunk.
The vet chewed my butt for snipping porky quills. Shaksper is back with us, happy to be home. We spent the day in Silver City after fetching him from the vet in Houghton. Beautiful day up here, sunny and warm. Saw a pine marten near the beach mid afternoon. Photos from the day’s events, etc. Over.
Should add that the ice in Keweenaw Bay was stacked up at the bottom of the bay, pushed there by recent north winds. Some say Lake Superior will keep some ice into June. Photos follow. Over. Some day: Took drive up through Herman, almost ended up sunk in beaver crick, but somehow powered my way out. Then chased by a pit bull at one place and then a pit bull and four other dogs. At one point stopped on road and eased my way through. What the hell is wrong with people? We then took Shaksper to a place where he could run (a gravel pit) and within five minutes he was back with porky quills in his nose, face, mouth and it started to spit snow and it took us an hour to get his butt back into the truck [Live like somebody left the gate unlocked is his motto] Soooo, dog back in the truck we headed for vet in downtown L’Anse, but doctor had gone to Chicago and the clinic up in Keweenaw Bay was “taking no new patients (even those with quills in their snouts) and thus we ended up driving to Houghton to the vet, where bozo is now spending the night after being sedated in order to remove his new decorations. We fetch him tomorrow at 0900 en route to an appointment in Silver City. Never boring here, or with us. Never, and I managed to shoot some photos which follow. Over.
We are now installed in our house in Alberta, Baraga County, which I called Baragastan in one of the Woods Cop Books. having gotten here a week ago Sunday, and only in last day or so been able to establish WiFi. Still no reliable phone coverage, but MTU allegedly building their own tower this summer. We shall see. Beautiful spot in the hills about 8 mile south of L’Anse, an old Henry Ford sawmill, which the Ford Motor Company gifted to Michigan Tech in 1954. The 60th anniversary of that will be celebrated this summer, sheer serendipity that we are here for it. I have signed contracts for the next collection of short stories, Harder Ground, to come out next spring. And contracts for republication of TAXI DANCER, THE BERKUT, and THE DOMINO CONSPIRACY, all of which should show up in the next 18 months or so, and with that, Globe-Pequot/Lyons will be the publisher of all my stuff. This September will see publication of Bapat #2, MOUNTAINS OF THE MISBEGOTTEN. Next Grady Service, #10, to be out fall of 2015. So right now I am busy with the next Woods Cop book, working title of BUCKULAR DYSTROPHY and having great fun with it. Got 30,000 words done before we came up here, and am now in mid-book range of telling the story. Every day we get out to explore. Lonnie walks Shaksper and I amble the hills and the cricks and hollows checking brookie water for when the waters recede. This is absolutely beautiful country. With a brook trout lake and creek on the property and the Sturgeon River a mile or so south of us with trails through the woods or via US 41. It’s occurred to me that most Americans see too much from vehicles, and having a view of something at 55-75 mph is not the same as hiking carefully and slowly up into the hills where you are engulfed by natural smells and sounds. Liesl Schillinger in the NYt on May 11 wrote, “Travel by foot leaves and imprint on the memory, and slows down time for a precious moment to associate with little known creatures,” She may have attributed this to trekker-hiker Helen Thayer; my notes are cloudy on the attribution. Surprise. My handwriting, never good, grows progressively worse. Here we are, with all our stuff put away and now we have to make a run to Noobs to get the rest out of storage. This will happen tomorrow. So far we are quite happy here. Last Saturday we drove over to Marquette for Snowbound Books’s 30th anniversary shindig, only an hour away AND we saw our first moose of summer on the way home. What follows is a gallery of photos from the area for your viewing pleasure, all of these taken over past few days, most of them this afternoon during a two-hour hike. My friend and former lacrosse teammate and linemate David P. Wagner will have his second Rick Montoya Italian Mystery will be out in September. The title is DEATH IN THE DOLOMITES. Lon is reading it now and I get it next. Dave is a terrific writer and his series is a winner with a memorable background. Having lived in Italy as a kid, I’m probably prejudiced. Look for it from Poisoned Pen Press this fall. Promo aside, the gallery follows No particular order. I’ll be posting pictures all summer and soon hope to have some brook trout to display. Over.