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05 May

Silence Comes to the Tigers’ Heart

I just heard moments ago that Ernie Harwell died yesterday.  He was 92.  Geez. Hearing this put a big lump in my throat.  He was not only the voice of the Tigers, but the soul of the whole enterprise, a truly timeless man. Back in 1968 Armed Forces Radio carried all the Detroit Tigers games worldwide, including Southeast Asia, and all of us, wherever we were serving, listened and rooted, as if we were on another planet.  I remember Don Wert singling Al Kaline home with the winning run, the first Series championship for the Tiges since 1945. Later, after I became an author, I got a wonderful and thoughtful letter from Ernie after he read The Berkut, saying how much he had enjoyed the story, and thanking me for writing it.  Turns out he was like Mr. Maximo-Book-Reader with eclectic tastes. What more would you expect from such a gentleman? Hope there’s a ballgame for you to call where you’re going, Ernie. You’ve earned it and all your baseball friends will welcome you with open arms. You will be missed here, but I expect your spirit will watch carefully and lovingly over ballparks all around the nation for a long, long time to come. I hope there is a respectful moment of silence in every ballpark in America today and tonight, at all levels, not just in the National and American Leagues.

04 May

Evening at Kazoo Books

Photo from last week’s book-signing odyssey, this one last Friday night at Kazoo Books.  Take careful note of all the gray hair, which tells you something about the fan base…  And thanks to Natural Resources Commissioner Mary Brown for dropping by. Also Susie Wagner and the Vissers, Mel, Gloria unt Patrick. Over.


03 May

Bear Troubles

Gerry Lister is a British Columbia Conservation Officer who happens to review books for the magazine International Game Warden, published by the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association.

Gerry is usually the one heaping praise on others, so it seems just fair to put him in the spotlight for a moment. About a year ago Gerry started working on a TV series about BC conservation officers and bears. The crew first came to town last October and went with CO Lister to the complaint of a treed bear that had been “foraging” a neighborhood for ripe fruit, garbage, and compost. This was the first CO Lister had heard of this particular critter. The film crew got some good footage and departed and the conservation officer spent the rest of the day tracking the animal. Unsuccessfully.

Over the next few weeks more complaints came in on the same bear an Jerry responded, but seemed always to be ” a step behind.”

Winter came and the hooliganism stopped.

A week ago the same bear re-entered the picture and once again with impeccable timing. Gerry located the animal the same day that the cameraman and director from the film crew came back to town. A trap was set last Saturday night, but the bear hit two of his other locations that night. Gerry knew that his pattern had been to travel neighborhoods in the mid-afternoon, and at 1400 Sunday the little bugger (now a two-year-old male) was finally captured.

Unfortunately, it was also the end for this animal: extensive habituation to people, heavy conditioning to human food sources, killing of household pets and overall poor body condition. Ironically this was the only footage the crew got in a  week in a couple of different locations, and that the trouble bear’s ending coincided with the film crew’s schedule.

Thanks to Gerry for sharing his story with us. It’s a good reminder to not feed the bears, folks, and if you have bird feeders out in bear country in spring early summer, don’t be surprised if young males pay you a visit. It’s tough enough to get rid of marauding bears and when people feed them it just about assures the animal will have to be destroyed, which is too bad.

If you’d like to see the trailer for the TV series, go to and click on “Bear Territory.”

Oh yeah, CO Gerry is also a free lance magazine writer and lacrosse coach — in addition to being a book reviewer. Any you think your life is busy?


BC CO Gerry Lister captured on film Sunday, May 2 as he sought to trap a problem bear . The view of that neighborhood tells us this is NOT a place for a bear to become habituated to humans or our food or anything to do with us.

03 May

Flogging Books

Shadow of the Wolf Tree tis out, the time of flogging said product upon us. Friday  night we had a fine crowd at Kazoo Books and we even saw some old friends.  Store ran out of books and ordered more, which I’ll go sign tomorrow (Tuesday, May 4).  Owners Jim and Gloria Tiller gave us a fine bottle of wine and AND-AND- AND… freshly picked morels from their property. Wow! These we cooked sunday night, fried them in a little butter, a little olive oil, a little garlic and a little dry red wine. YUP DAMNDEELISHUSH!  Jambe Longue also found a wonderful recipe for fresh asparagus made with lemon zest. Whoa-boy!

Saturday we squared away Gospodin Shanahan (one of the boys to look after him) and hit the road at 0630 and bumped our way north to Midland for a midday signing at Little Forks Outfitters in downtown Midland. Great turnout, lots of fans, and great hosts Bo Brines and John Van Dalen. Bo related a story of a visit to Ireland and never mind — I’ll save it for a book.

Saturday afternoon after the Midland event, we drove up to East Tawas and checked into the Bambi Motel, then back to Standish where I talked to Friends of the Mary Johnson Library at the Northeast Arts Center, which began life as a church. Stood right up there at the pulpit and nary a lightning bolt rained down.  That I know of. Lots of nice people. As usual I got chewed on a bit for the demise of certain characters a few books back.

Post event we had refreshments and something to eat at the Holiday Inn (new name now) in East Tawas.  Randy and Sally Clarke, and Cheryl and Pete Malette, and CO “Sunshine” Hopkins joined up. Sunshine had a University of Phoenix paper due, but was playing the three-hour time diff and joined us for awhile.

The day’s animal count was: 19 dead deer, 15 turkeys, 4 sandhill cranes, 2 redtail hawks, 2 great blue herons, and 2 deer.

Sunday morning awoke in frog strangler and wended our way south, including a stop at Jay’s to replace gear that got stolen from our truck in Kalamazoo last fall. There was a pet adoption deal going on, so naturally Jambe Longue had to mosey over for a look-see. Got home late afternoon, to be greeted like royalty by the mutt.

Sunday’s animal count was 7 deer, 23 dead deer, 4 great blue herons, 1 bald eagle, 2 rabbits, 20 turkeys, 2 redtail hawks, 1 sandhill crane, and 1 woodchuck. I have seen more dead deer this year than in the past 10 or 12 years. Don’t know why.

If you made it to any of these events, thanks for your patronage, and tell your friends to join the movement. By the way, I try to organize the photos in chronological order, but the damn software arbitrarily starts placing them at some point, so they are in the order the idiotic software chose.


Okay, sometimes there are small glitches. Hint, if you invite an author with anal proofing habits, double-check the name-spelling!

Who the man at the pulpit? Ahhh -- no lightning bolts this evening!

The rains relented as we headed south and between Standish and Gladwin we looked up and spotted an eagles nest with one resident in view. Very, very cool. First eagle next Jambe Longue has seen. She was amazed by its size.

In Clare County (off the beaten track) you will find numerous fine field stone homes. I'm just guessing but Clare is an Irish name and I'm guessing some early settlers were, like me, of Mick blood, and naturally they used the local stone to building their homes. Wonderful place to drive around.

Marsh marigolds were much in evidence along some dirt roads. Gorgeous splashes of gold mixed in the green marshes and swamps.

These cattails look sort of like scalps hung on sticks to dry.

After the rain: Roadside Gold

Jay's (Clare) opens at noon. We were there 15 minutes early. I sat and read CJ Box's new novel, which includes characters and events from OUR UP! If you haven't read Box's novels about the Wyoming game warden Joe Pickett, you've been missing out.

Pile of Pitbulls Seeking Adoption. Talk about cute!

What two-tracks? The Green Streamer LOVES dirt!

What is it with people who think they can just drive out in the country and dump stuff along the roadsides? Talk about irritating!

I-94, traffice moving at 75 mph, and where PRAYTELL is the driver in the vehicle ahead of me? Talk about getting one's attention!

Mom cardinal pauses for air just after feeding the new chick!

Little Forks Outfitters. There's a long story behind this coyote-pat mount. Fella we know, a flyfishing addict, had his brother move to colorado and the brother gave him the coyote, but wifey said no way that thing goes in our house and is now at Little Forks on an Indefinite Loan. This is one very big animal that looks like what Yoopers call a brush wolf, not like the small ones we generally see down here below the bridge. The coyote looked over my shoulder while I signed books for folks.

Northeast Art Center, Standish. Once a church that preached hope, now an art center where people can practice hope through their art. Nice venue.

29 Apr

Twenty Early Morning Musings

1) Da UP she’s an aging whore, her best days consigned ta days of yore.

2) Da Britch went up in fifty nine, deepened da old girls gradual decline.

3) No more copper, no more iron, no more miners, closed up mines, only a few pulpies hanging ’round Engadine.

4) Got no jopps nor industry, people wed ta social security.

5) Winters we call clear and still means snowbanks above da window sills.

6) Global warming, 90-degree days, youse’d t’ink we could grow more den spuds n hay.

7) T’ings dey changin for da worse, wimmens wearin’ pants, mens carrying purse.

8) Way back when we ate like kings: string cheese, smelt, cudaghi, Trenary Toast, morels and walleyes prized da most. Pasties, brook trout fried in da pan, venison served on da table all year round, some of it legal, much of it poached by our old man.

9) Dis UP ain’t what she ustabee, chalk dat up ta CNN and MTV.

10) Ustabee youse could smoke in town, but  hey! dose damn trolls downstate dey vote dat down.

11) When I was kid on saturday night, we go to bar watch polkas and fights.

12) Now Yuppies stop in Seney in dere Volvo, ask they can order designer martinis, makes we want to barfo.

13) Got dose condos down Marquette harbor, Brevort, Hancock, Epoufette, we all shake our heads, ask what da heck!

14) Girls up here got beaucoup smarts (not ta mention udder real nice parts). Eighteen comes and high school’s done, dey leave da Yoop on a dead-out run.

15) Outlaws down da Garden grow dere mean-green grass, so much THC in dat stuff  knock youse on your arse.

16) Wolfies eatin’ all da deer since da bloody DNR brung ‘em here.

17) Tribes dey got casinos all over da place, take all yer cash wit smiles on dere face.

18) We love dose Red Wings, dat’s a fact, but dose sadsack Lions can never be our Pack.

19) Businesses closin,’ schools shut too, what’re we Yoopers ‘pose ta do?

20) Close da straits, block da locks in Saults, charge t’ousand bucks a day ta come up here ta play — and dat includes youse.

All in fun. Sort of. Over.

29 Apr

Drum-Thumping Set

Tomorrow night starts the drum-thumping time of year — when I go out and sign and talk about books. Back next week with some sort of photo record of events. Shanahan got his stitches out this past week, leg looking good (if a hairless chickenleg on a newfie-flatcoat can look good ).  Our mama cardinal continues to sit on her eggs. Her latest photo follows the text.  Phoebes in the far back yard are nested too. And we have baby squirrels in hollow of a tree in front yard. Redtail hawk is on her next over by the trail. I hear from up north that bug hatches are popping early and I wonder if this early popping phenomenon from warm weather also will affect mammalian behavior, e.g fawns usually seen around Memorial Day. Earlier this year, mayhaps? We should have babies anytime soon. When we had heavy rains this week I watched her hunker down and stick with the job. She might be a good lesson to all of us in a lot of situations.

Mama on the Job

27 Apr

Loose Moose-Goosing

Late last night CO Jason Wicklund of Iron County got a call of a moose-truck collision, so he boogeyed right-quick to the scene north of Cable Lake on US 141. Once there he called for a flatbed and could hear another moose bellowing in the marsh.   Then a smaller moose ran across the road just in front of the accident scene. The dead moose was cut up, the meat salvaged, and donated this morning to needy families in the county. I have yet to see a moose on the hoof in Michigan. I’ve seen lynx, bear, elk, wolves, but no moose so far. Much as I want to see one, I do NOT want to goose one up close like this one. Seems like a COs’ jobs are  never done: they just sometimes run out of hours.

Drive carefully everywhere, all the time, but especially in elk and moose country. It ain’t like schmucking a 150-pound deer, sportsfans.


Another view

Goosed moose no longer loose.


What the moose leaves behind.

26 Apr

Springing Along

Years ago:  God and I were on a several-day fishing expedition up north and noticed an old homestead (abandoned — only a foundation remaining). Surrounding the ruins was a gigantic umbrella of lilacs — and we heard it calling our names. So… we each took a coupla sprigs and brought them south and replanted. Took six or seven years for mine to bloom, but now they stand nearly nine feet tall (from 8 inches!). And this year they are early. By my backyard timetable, I’m guessing they’re  two weeks early; usually the lilacs pop around Mother’s Day. But my peonies are also rising quickly, and growing at inches per day. Usually these characters  don’t bloom until my eldest son’s birthday in late May, but I’m guessing they’ll have flowers not too long after Mother’s Day. The photo captures a lilac blossom after the rain. It rained here most of the weekend and everything is vibrant green. Enjoy. Over.

Lilacs Dripping Raindrops

26 Apr

Like Noir?

Looking for an author to read?  Try Ken Bruen, who writes mega dark (noir), violent cop novels set in the UK and Ireland. The characters are great, the chemistry of urban cops perfect in a lot of ways. His work is spare in words, big in image, with great characters, continuous movement and crisp spot-on dialog and images that often make me laugh out loud. One of my sons brought one of Bruen’s books to another of my sons –  only the old man ganked(intercepted/borrowed)  it mid-transaction and I’ve read three since last week (Once Were Cops; The Guards; The White Trilogy).  All of the works were and are  originally published in Europe. My kids are great book people and sometimes they even share with the old dude.


24 Apr

Catching Up With Catching Up

Okay, I’ve been digging in my files, ergo: In a place near here, now razed and turned  wild turkey-cervid pasture, in a time long long ago when employees were openly and publicly declared  assets (and treated like it), there came a sharp-tongued new CEO who kept ordering all his minions to be “Better Than the Best.”  Most people who heard this slogan reacted with blank stares or turned pale. Word has it there was some associated retching as well.  People wondered, Geez, how can one be Better than the Best? One of my colleagues back in those ancient times just happened to get a note from a pal, who was totally unaware of the BTTB mantra and it hauntingly seems to have answered the question of how one becomes BTTB.  I share it now for all of us to hold close to our hearts when the various leaders in our lives lose control of language and exhort us to meaningless and unmeasurable levels of pseudo achievement. This is a strictly mathematical viewpoint…it goes like this: What makes 100 percent? What does it mean to give MORE than 100 percent? Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100 percent?We have all been to meetings (too many of them) where someone wants us to give over 100 percent.For a change, how about we achieve 103 percent? Is it even possible? Here’s a little mathematical formula that might help you.

If  A-B-C-D-E-F-G-H-I-J-K-L-M-N-O-P-Q-R-S-T-U-V-W-X-Y-Z is represented as 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17-18-19-20-21-22-23-24-25-26, then:

H-A-R-D-W-O-R-K  or 8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11 = 98 percent.

K-N-O-W-L-E-D-G-E therefore is 11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5 = 96 percent.

But, A-T-T-T-U-D-E, that is 1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5= 100 percent,

And, B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T, 2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20= 103 percent.

AND, look how far A-S-S-K-I-S-S-I-N-G will take you: 1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7 = 118 percent!

Therefore, one may conclude with mathematical certainty that while Hard Work and Knowledge will get you close, and Attitude will get you there, it’s the Bullshit and Ass Kissing that will put you over the top.

Back in my AF days when things were dark and getting dark our unofficial squadron philosophers would give a wave of the hand and declare  dismissively, “What they gonna do to us, put us on alert in winter in Goose Bay…Oh wait, we’re already here.”

Trout season opened today. I didn’t get out. I am filing. Your read right. Filing now for six straight days. Jambe Longue retires in June and we have to prepare for the deluge of her files!

Next Friday night at 1730, there will be a book signing at Kazoo Books Parkview Annex in Kalamazoo.

Saturday 1100-1400 we will be in Midland for a book signing at Little Forks Outfitters  downtown Midland.

And Saturday night, it will be 1830 autographing, remarks, refreshments,  and Q&A with Friends of the Mary Johnston Memorial Library at the NE Arts Building  in Standish, Michigan.

Stop by and shoot the breeze, feel free to buy bunches of books for your friends.

Official publication date isn’t until May 4, but the book is in stores now, and  today I got a nice note from Jim Lorenson, President of Gogebic Community College in Ironwood, himself a former Michigan DNR VCO: “Just finished Shadow of the Wolf Tree. Another great story.” Thanks for the note, Jim.

Yah, that’s what we like to hear. Sometimes some words from some persons  are just right.

CO Reid “Captain Furious” Roeske of Delta County recently passed to me a sheaf of conservation officer reports dating back to the early 1950s. Reid’s family hales from Wisconsin (we don’t hold that against him), but they had a hunting camp near Trout Creek and one day when someone was remodeling they found all these reports inside a wall. I will put excerpts of the reports in the blog from time to time to give us a flavor of what the CO job was like more than a half-century ago. Thanks for the reports, Reid.

There was a brief memorial for Rusty Gates today at the Lodge. I still can’t believe he’s gone. Too damn young, too damn soon.


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