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14 Jan

Thai Food and TGIF

Ice-squid stalk the studio window....

Fried tofu and peanut sauce — appetizer

Singha beer, breakfast (lunch & dinner) for gray-green Nomex flightsuiters in a place long, long ago and far, far away.

Speaking of Thailand, here's Lt. Col Vairo (USAF Ret) controlling the world electronically.

Here's what I mean by too much sun in the studio.

And here studio light is just right.

Why drive a humongous truck? 1. You can carry a squatload of fishing gear and equipment to the UP, and 2. If you need to move an eight-foot couch, just slide it in and away you go.

Muttus Pacificas

For years I’ve  been driving past a restaurant on Gull Road, called Bangkok. Finally got chance to stop there for lunch this week. Excellent and the hot sauce is just right (and for sale @$5/pint). We had sweet-sour soup, fried tofu with peanut sauce and mains of Pad Thai chicken and Panang chicken, washed down with Singha beer, our staple in the Thailand days with the USAF. Back in those days the beer was available only in quart (maybe they were liter) bottles. Drink mahk mahk was mai-dee. We WILL return.Finally got another camera dumped. How did we survive in the film developing days?Earlier I talked about light in the studio and now I can demonstrate in photos below, plus the usual miscellany. Jambe Longue and Shanny saw the redtail hawk couple on one of the power poles east of here, their fourth or fifth year together and every year so far, a little one. It’s nice to have some sense of your local rhythms and look forward to them, no matter where you are.Heard talking head yammer today about how state employees may have to make their contributions to state recovery. Funny, I thought they’d BEEN doing that, including unpaid furlough days. Huh. Well when you come from the private sector I guess taking your flensing knife to the public troops is step one.  Our OTN is now on the throne and we shall see what he can deliver versus squeak. (For the record:  I hope he does great.)
14 Jan

Gray Sky, White Snow

Gray sky, white snow, might as well work, nowhere else to go. White stuff continues to fall and I continue to wind down the Red Jacket manuscript and work on a painting called “Strike Dog” — same as the story from a few years back.  Oddly enough, gray, ovecast skies provide better light for painting in my studio than do bright sunny days.  Some pix follow for  your enjoyment. I can see the suet feeder from my writing desk.

French Curve

Old Days on the Pere Marquette

Ahoy the grapes!

Monsieur Dollar Butt

10 Jan

Owl House on Old Mission

Screech Owl

Pals Griz and Nan Harris passed along this photo of a screech owl (Megascops asio) in the little wooden house they moved from Kalamazoo, to Manistee to the Old Mission Peninsula where they now live. Very nice and see, persistence pays off. The birds nest March to June, so this little one is early, according to scientific skeds of same. Over.

10 Jan

Thoughts on Tucson

There seems to be all sorts of whackety yackety-yack, slickum yada-yada, alligator sobbing, and public posturing on and by our media about the recent tragic slaughter in Tucson.

Our hearts go out to the families of the victims, those deceased and those recovering and still clinging to life.

But the cause of this thing, it seems to me, is not so simplistic as to be reduced to gun (or in this case 30-round magazines for guns), poisonous political rhetoric, or even public incivility. Do we have no sense of history? If rhetoric truly affected people, why have formal religions around the world, all of them preaching for god’s love and tolerance in one way or another over thousands of years, why have they not led us to world peace? 

People act for their own reasons, which may or may not coincide with those of a group. In the same way communications theorists will tell you meanings are in people, not in words. When you, your sister, Mandy and I say “boat,” chances are we are each seeing a different water craft in our heads, all of which we would recognize as of a class, but each see specifically according to our own chemistry of memory,experience,  and creativity. This ambiguity inherent in words is one of the challenges and hurdles of writing fiction or non-fiction. It’s also why some public speakers reach for extrmes in the hope of connecting with an audience.

But a stand- alone event and tangentially related things? I didn’t even know Sarah Palin had a website with “surveyor’s crosshairs” (her group’s words, not mine)  over targeted political districts. Or remember Obama’s line about bringing guns to a political knife fight. Dumb thing to say when taken out olf the context of when and where  (And very solidly Hollywoodedlyl Bruce Willisish)  I feel pretty sure a lawyer could make the case that an assassin’s knowledge of  and anguish over goats having carnal knowledge of each other in some  rural Montana high field drove a certain person to kill. To be politically incorrect, nuts is nuts and as someone once said, even crazy people have reasons for doing the things they do. The reasons may be crazy, but they are what compel such people to act in lethal ways.

We need to lay off our national tendency toward knee-jerk emotional outbursts and chest-beating Something many of us lean toward. Censorship and its snaggle-tooth cousin, political correctness, offer no solutions for us. Never have, never will. In fact, these approaches can help and usually do obfuscate realities and facts that ought to be brought into the glare of public light. And while it’s certainly nice to be nice, it seems to me some reality requires not-so-nice talk and discussion. Some situations are not about polite or nice, but about pragmatism. In my Air Force Days, when a plane was turning into 500 mph fecal matter, we did not exercise politeness with each other. It wasn’t the time or the place and I would argue most of what we do in the name of polite discourse is to create a barrier that will making it difficult to impossible to call a spade a spade, so to speak. People who’ve never been in a true shit storm tend to have no clues but often seem ready to provide answers and guidance to those who have.

Plain talk doesn’t have to be nice, just plain, and understandable. If the shooter is insane, get him into secure treatment and keep him there. If he knowingly committed murder and knew right from wrong, let justice prevail.

All day today I heard people calling for a “return to civility.” And what would civility might that be? Hate speech and political hate have been around at least as long as I’ve lived (b 1943). We had Japs and Krauts in World War II, the Gooks and Chinks in Korea, the secret commie bastards in the State Department from Sin-ator Joe McCarthy and all those goddamn godless commies in the USSR, Dinks and Charlie in Vietnam, and towel heads etc in our more recent foreign wars and outings.

Back home we had bloody fights and violence a plenty for civil rights for blacks, various Asians, Hispanics, (too many illegal spicks coming across our borders) votes for women, and gay rights… pick a group or race  ore whatever, and you can be sure there has been volumes of  public hate talk throughout the going-on seven decades of my life. Over history Americans here and in place have shown equal opportunitgy for almost all newcomers, from Italians, Irish, Germans and Finns, to Chinese, Japanese and Pakistanis. To borrow from the song, our history is like “Hate em all, tghe long the (pick your own color) the short and the tall.”

Somebody please tell me just what it is we are supposed to get back to? I musta missed it. Ozzie and Harriet? Yo, that was TV, folks, made up.

Tucson has wrought the usual event horizon, and all the heart-rending downstream mea culpa-ing.

I suggest we take a deep community-wide breath, wake up folks, and get a grip on history. This sort of tragic and unacceptable violence in Tucson and the post-event “gnashing of teeth has happened before. Remember how civility reigned after Oklahoma City when hundreds died, and after Nine Eleven when thousands died? Six dead in Tucson (at least), and sadly this is unlikely even to be a serious speed-bump in the public discourse. Weeks ago we had a groundswell of public hate being screamed at certain Muslims who allegedly wanted to build a mosque/community center near ground zero. It was never clear to me exactly what was to be built and I have no idea what that project status is today. Our society operates like children, screaming when we are displeased, only to fold back to a fetal position in front of the tube/computer/MP-Whateve,r to swim in the oblivion of non-thought until the next time some event temporarily awakens us the way a rattler takes umbrage when somebody steps on the old boy’s tail.

The only real connect [A leading to B] I know between political rhetoric and violence that I can readily identify as often undeniable is called war, justifiable and the opposite flavor. And by the way, civility did not reign after Pearl Harbor. That event took us to war. The problem now is we aren’t really sure who we’re at war with, or even why we’re at war, and this may account for some or our erratic public behavior in the wake of sad and tragic events. Some people feel guilt over wanting retribution and revenge and others know nothing else. It has always been so. Our whole culture seems in continuous turmoil and anguish — so why are we surprised when it surfaces in an individual?

Cultures, like individuals practice selective memory and write books to enforce those selections. Thus it has been, thus it shall be. We are human, each of us, all of us. Over.


10 Jan

NEWS ALERT: Pub Date for Next Woods Cop Mystery, Sept 1, 2011.

Word just in: Publication date for  Force of Blood is targeted for Sept 1, 2011. Force of Blood is the 8th in the Grady Service Woods Cop Mystery Series. More will follow. Spread the word. Over

10 Jan

Hogs & Stuff To Turn Some Stomachs

Am I the only one who wonders why is it that we insist on using three names for all assholes who go around killing innocents? I never have understood this. We don’t use the full name form in any other kind of reporting I can think of other than perhaps,  tombstone listings of obituaries, births, and divorces. Very strange this country of ours. An unstable 20 something alleged to have drug and mental problems and access to a firearm. Go figure. Now in the wake of this latest monstrosity our media will bathe in omnium gatherum and spew pablum for as long as ratings stay up. To be fair, now that I think about it, my late mom, Wilma Catherine used to yell Joseph Thomas Heywood, when I was in deep doodoo, so perhaps the three name convention relates in some distant way to that?

On another  strange note, I still don’t know why Governor Jenny (our former Guber) signed off on a bill that will enable us to have a moose hunting season. As our dear friend Brenda from Deer Park said, “What moose?

Me, I’m 67, spent years all over the UP backwoods where moosies dwell and nary a sighting, dead or a-hoof Could it be we signed this one to allow for a potential revenue stream? Neither complaining nor carping, just wondering how our agencies und new governor OTN [One Tough Nerd] will handle this one.

Now that it’s legal to shoot wild pigs in the state I ran across some interesting stuff in [of all places] the London Review of Books [LRB], which is one of the truly interesting, edifying, and well written journals of these peripatetic times.

But let us talk of wild pigs and their domestic boarethren. Just as all modern dogs descend from wolves, all modern pigs descend from domesticated wild boars (sus scrofa).

According to Lawrence Norfolk [his relation to Norfolk Island offthe  coast of Queensland unknown] Tusks appear on boars at nine months and grow outward from the 4th premolars(wolf teeth) and corner incisors on the lower jaw. Tusks sometimes reach 12 inches, but 8 is more common. I think I tried to make this argument once but got a Mama Soprano wave-off and grunt of disgust.

If you’re going to hunt boars, keep in mind they prefer deciduous forests (think acorns and mast crops), BUT they prefer heavy cover first over food, and good places to look would include impenetrable briar patches, heavy reed beds along rivers and lakes, etc, and especially in standing corn fields.

The wild boar can grow large, but domestic pigs tend to be larger. Wild boars/pigs exist primarily below the 57th parallel and the further north they are the larger they tend to be.

Romans raised domesticated boarkinder to more than 1,000 pounds, which is a lot of porc, n’est pas? Says Norfolk, think of domestic pigs as wild boars deprived of all characteristics save one: Size. The main differences between wild  and domestic are physiological and tempermental, not genetic. Wild boars tend to be longer with darker hair, skinny ears, and straight, not curly tails. They also stink beyond description — and this I can personally attest to. I watched CO Dave Rodgers gut one about a year or so ago and only a few of the COs with us had the stomach to get close. Pee-Yew! By the way, the older the wild animal the grayer it gets, and sometimes looks almost white. Norfolk says wild boars are voracious and pigs merely gluttons. Indeed.

Way to go, Packers. Next week: Atlanta. Get some! Suey!


07 Jan

Nostalgic Night

The obligatory pose by Reg Bernard

Robert Peterson: Swedeling


Sorry, Prince. We're just passing by.

The salmon took the bottom fly on two-fly rig, passed on the egg, took a green caddis worm.

Bullshido Camp Entryway

Ironwood's native son, Larsie Hjalmquist

Al the Pal

Snow outside, I need to remember color and warm air and fish and rivers, so I delved into the old stuff and herewith share. No stories, just enjoy the colors and images and imagine your own.


Camp living room.

Where in the world is Cardinal Santiago?

06 Jan

Snow Falling, Autumn Memories

Thursday, morning, snow coming down pretty good and projected to continue into tomorrow.  Gray sky and white falling stuff puts me in think-back mode, so I went through some old pix I want to share. One is from DNR files, picture of state patrol cars when officers finally stopped driving their own vehicles, and a shot I took while on foot patrol near Joe Louis Arena last May. The Detroit photo is a beauty. Talk about weird sights conservation officers get to see!

Interesting Look back.

Downtown Motown, May 2010

05 Jan

Shep Gone

News came a few minutes ago  in an email from my pal Colleen  in Idaho : Glen Sheppard, legendary publisher and editor of The North Woods Call, our state’s in print-conscience and junkyard guard-dog for conservation since the 1970s, is dead. A Korean War vet (US Army), Shep never backed away from duty,  a good cause, a nasty fight, or a friend. He spoke plain language anyone and everyone could understand and he appreciated people who defended their own positions.

He loathed toadies, dandies, and politicians who’d never held jobs outside politics. And he loved the people of Michigan who thought sitting in a thick wet swale listening to Pats drum the equivalent of a Mozart symphony.

And he loved his dogs, and his cats and basically any critter that insinuated itself into his life through whatever route.

And despite his courage, oft displayed, Mary Lou was the commandant at home. And a damn good one, he would say.

He loved Conservation Officers and they him. Sometimes he beat up on them when he thought it was deserved and he had his brogans up the keesters of top DNR management too many times to count. But he was always ready to listen. He didn’t go around claiming he was fair and balanced because the only value he used to evaluate things was the cost to our environment and what it would mean for the legacy to our kids and grandkids.  When it comes to our natural resources he drew a line in the sand. Beyond here, we do not retreat. Damn he’ll be missed.

Last year Rusty Gates left us, now Shep.  Two close friends and pals for as long as I can remember and Shep was devastated by
Rusty’s death.


Only good thing: I can see the two of them already looking for a spot on a river bank to wait out the hatch, maybe puff a nasty old cigar while they wait, swap war stories.

Ask me, every person in this state ought to got off their asses and onto their feet and stand at attention for a minute while Taps play on every radio and TV station in this state.  But it won’t happen.

Shep didn’t mince words or suffer fools and he treasured this state for what is in our hearts and dreams, even when politicians were trying to hawk it away like two-bit  carnie vendors. Our condolences go to Mary Lou and the family, which frankly we might well count into the thousands or more. A giant walked among us and we are poorer today than any economic recession could make us. I was his  editorial cartoonist for about a decade and sometimes I’d send in a ‘toon and sometimes he call me with an idea. The calls would go something like this. 

HIM: Hey, Shep here. Got an idea, bucket of water with a wire across the top, little dowel piece on teh wire, peanut butter on the dowel. Mouse goes out on the wire, dowel turns, spins mouse  into water  and he drowns in the bucket.  Mouse trap, get it? Next week okay?

ME: Ya sure. You catchin any trout?

HIM: Who the hell has time, but I got some dandy mushrooms and no, I ain’t tellin’ you where.


Or, Shep here. You ever fish the Black in the PRC?”


“You got to. I’ll tell Joe J  (PRC Honcho)you’ll be walking in around Blue Lakes. Gotta go. Have fun and leave some for me.  Click.

I am going to miss that contankerous sonovabitch.  More to the point, so is the entire state. Who will step to the plate in his place?

God knows. Literally.

 Shep was 74.

04 Jan

The More Things Change…

I was looking through history disks from the DNR and ran across the one shown below. Not long ago I had a CO show me how a bobcat’s back leg under certain conditions could be seen as a tail and make the wildcat look like a cougar. Back when I was in college at MSU in the early sixties there were occasional stories of mystery cats around the state. The following photo is intriguing only in showing that cat oddities have been around a lot longer than me. Personally this looks like a plain brown envelope bobcat to me and I suspect it was ignorance of the editor who wrote the photo caption that even raised the specter of cougars. But who knows?  Enjoy. Over.

Mystery cat or misfired caption?

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