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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?

03 Jan

Monday Morning Crash

All through December we  had 2-3 birds slamming into the sliding glass door in the studio on a daily basis. Apparently they ate berries off a bush by the dining room window — berries  that had fermented– thereby getting  themselves a  little buzz on, couldn’t set their gyroscopes set quite right, lifted off,  and Bap! This morning, the first monday of 2011, the sun is out, an inch of fresh fluffy snow on the ground,  the air cool and BAM! a much louder than usual crash, a Cooper’s hawk pursing drunk prey, which somehow managed to zig and the hawk didn’t and whacked the door, dropped to the deck, shook his head, hopped up into the maple tree to clear his brain pan of fuzz, and after a minute of so, winged his way to greener pastures so to speak. Hey, hunting for subsistance ain’t easy and this is  a good thing to remember when old folks start talking about the good old days that weren’t so good in a lot of ways. Happy first week of the new year! Over.

02 Jan

There’s Gold in Them There Cricks

The attached photograph is of a very healthy male brown trout netted from a very diminutive stream in west michigan, not one of the famous big waters further north, and this gorilla is one of the reasons I feel no real need to leave the state to fish for trout. We have more here than I can ever catch: browns, bows, steelhead, brookies. How many days till the opener? Whew! Over.


Big Buck River gold. Note hooked kype and blue spot on gill plate, the spot denoting wild fish, not hatchery grown.

01 Jan

New Year’s Day, 2011

Writing studio, northwall west.Northwall East

Writging studio north wall, east.

Happy New Year to each and all. How long will it take to adjust to writing 2011 instead of 2010? That year went by on a rocket sled and last night celebrated by watching the New York Philharmonic with pianist Long Long, as we dined on Moroccan lambe stew with apricots, raisins and pears. Very aromatic and tasty, all washed down with a bottle of 2005 Margaux — definitely a recipe I put in Grady Service’s kitchen for a specail occasion. My old computer bit it as the year’s end closed in and I am now using newer, updated (not necessarily better) programs. Ergo I can’t find animal counts from past year, but I will continue to search. However, I can provide my annual count for 2010, animals randomly observed while hiking, driving, fishing, working with the DNR, everything. (A + after the number  means I saw more but was unable to get an accurate count): 



FOX: 6



DEER: 731











PATS: 24


























30 Dec

The Earth Moves, Under our Feet and Whaddya Gonna Do?

Jambe Longue confides one night she has a skeleton in her closet -- then insists we meet. Sheesh.

Left by the ice fog: Hoaryoak.

Blue skies, white treetops: Priceless.

Tighter look at hoarfrost on week pod

Snowsnake trails in Oshtemo

Didja get a big enough chunk?

Itsy bitsy downy woodpecker at the hanging automat


No idea who this is, or who sent me the photo, but I call it Polar Bare and the dude can HAVE the river to himself!
The newest Granddog, Beatrix, a pug. She was rescued from a puppy mill run by some Amish folks and now lives in Chicago with the Schoolteacher.


Hairy Woodpecker puts on the feedbag.
Thanks to my old bassing and hunting partner The Snooker (Charles G. Snoek Esq.) for this “sentiment.” Very Texican philosophically.
Flickers are in the woodpecker family, but Yoopers call them Dollar Butts, a much better moniker.


Suet Duet. Sparrow and Red Belly Woodpecker compete for chow.



0755 this a.m. we got a little terra firma-

 shaker here, from a 5-point something quake centered about 50 miles north of  Big Nap. The weather bashers are calling for temps in the high 40s tomorrow, possibly into the 50s. Ah, Michigan, America’s economic  Third World Nation. The birds have been going bonkers with the weather change, even yesterday when ice fog painted all the trees with hoar frost and the chill factor was +8.  Nice Christmas here with kids and five dogs. Photos follow for you enjoyment. Happy New Year, Over.

29 Dec

Faith in the Time of Twatoos

Faith in The Time Of Twatoos

Reflecting on Send-Times when all,

Digital devices in hand

[Wait-wait, Warble-clicker,

Texters coming in at rates of Mo’ thin

Nine thou, month, some

Surveys insist, which makes

Me sweat with a telecomic mist

I do declare Scarlet of  mein

marvel as to how anyone

Ever in the history of history,

[which we’ll later address]

Could have that much to propound

To anyone, even to god.

Finger-pecking across all bands,

Propelling drivel by hand through time

Across unnamed unwired space.

Time to duck this telecommunistic race

[silicomers want us all to have all the same stuff]

That night we just may sit alone,

Electronically unplugged

From beepers and phones,

Undocked on the couch downstairs

To watch Times Square’s ball Pfall

Like a damn mass play-time

For alleged adults too thick

To imagine entertainment

As a solo undertaking

Deep breath.



My apologies to Patton

Who slapped boys upside their heads

Roughing them up in dressing stations

On account he would brook no cowards

[Only lunatics, we grant in retro

Hymngrateself not knowing PTSD was real]

unt  having apologized grudgingly,

Beloved General Wronghead

was plethorally decorated

And publicly acclaimed

The way Self-Declared Greatest Generation Heroes

Were done, so to speak.

Still, I suppose we must  long for heroes

As people always have,

Soupcon with faces and names

Think Shagsper’s bear: Sackerson

Spoken of, never seen on stage,

A name Elizabethans knew

As we do Lady Gaga, Madonna,

[Even out in far Montana]

Oft-baited, never defeated

Capable of magnificent rages,

Great Bear Defiant, Hound-Killer

[Like Sam Grant in his prime,

The Big Blue Spear honed, boned, oiled,

And pointed one way: Sudsud,

Burn em all, burn em all

The long, the short, and the tall]

C’est une saltimbanque grande

Performers for hominidal

Crowds of baying homunculi,

Gawking cultural mouth breathers,

Such as today might well believe

Easter Bunny drives Ford trucks

And mankind is only five thou in

Birthday candle of age-ness,

Here in the Time of Twatoo Art

Argumentum ad populum

Reigning over hard science

Ursus regnum faith trumping

Higher maths and miles of fossil records.

[Were dinosaurs hatched in movie

Studios like moon landings?]


By majorily manority

Opined on cable by clerisy

[we who badmouth Eyerainians for same]

To hail as Emo’s Evo Equal

Which sounds like a texting plan

We can’t afford to decline.

Deep breath.



This fellow called here one day,

Not so long ago,

Announced The Holy Spirit 

(female historians insist until the fifth cent)

How HE performed 27 miracles

In November alone, fueled solely by local prayer,

But no names or facts available,

[No police report equiv on God’s beat, except

where we want to extract revenge on those

who dare disagree on the unverifiable]

In this local case,

The minkyster having said

faith and privacy must prevail

over factual public knowledge,

Language of a sort I seem to remember

From our Cold War days,

When blackblackblack meant black,

And whitewhitewhite  meant Lone Ranger,

All of us in lock step all lip-synching

(even the media) total faith

That sitting under our first grade desks

Would keep us free

Of fallout from Soviet radioactivity.

Granted, not Sam this time,

But verification was then partner to faith

Paramount where nuke bombs

Were at issue crost PointeeTalky-Tables

Where Uncle Sammers and Russky-buskers

Fatcatsat Nogoatsheighting

Not like now, when faith alone

Is supposed to carry water

[Bucketless if your faith be strong]

Ten was one helluva year as bad years go.



Michigan southeast of home





28 Dec


Not so hospitable to the smartly dressed intruder.

Yesterday former Spartan LaxmanTed Swoboda looked out on his deck long enough to get his camera clicking to capture a bluebird, which was apparently driven off by the other words. Ted notes how bright the bird’s plumage is for this time of year, even on a gray December day. First bluebird ever at his feeders. Enjoy. Over.

Bluebird in Winter

24 Dec

Tis the Season

Happy Holidays to each and  all and thanks to all of my readers and supporters. Hey,did you hear that  our outgoing governorship signed a law to authorize a moose hunt? The DNR doesn’t even know for sure how many animals there are and in the 52 years I’ve been going up to the Yoop (and I mean ALL OVER THE PLACE) I’ve never seen a one. Been close, but still waiting to see my first. Makes me think perhaps this deal is premature anda touch  ass-backwards. Shouldn’t the way this happens be our  biologists would declare  — based on empirical data — that  we have a herd that needs culling for biological reasons, THEN ask political operatives to put in place a season to take care of the biological needs? But hey, what do I know? Be safe and be happy. We’ll re-open the Worry Ward after the first. Go State, kick Nick Saban’s miserable butt. Over.

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