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Thursday, January 31, 2013


Thursday, 8:30 AM.  9 degrees F, wind WNW, light with stronger gusts.  It is overcast, hazy  and foggy, and Madeline Island is not visible.  The barometer is more or less steady at 29.80 in., and the humidity is 83%.  We have an inch or two of new snow on the ground and it is beginning to fall again; fine, icy crystals.
    The gun control debates are now on in earnest in Washington, DC and around the country, even while new incidents of gun violence grab the headlines.  All of this is leading to a fundamental discussion of whether there should even be a Second Amendment, and  a considerable number of legislators and judges evidently think not. 
    The Second Amendment is not about deer hunting.  It says nothing about the right of citizens to possess firearms to hunt game.  The Second Amendment is about protecting ourselves, collectively and individually, from tyranny, both foreign and domestic.  It is about protecting ourselves from the arbitrary power of criminals, kings and dictators.  It is about preserving the physical and political freedom of the individual.  Dig deep enough beneath the rhetoric of the current gun debates and you will find that the fear of arbitrary dictatorial power is a prime motivator in the opposition to gun laws.
    And I believe there would be far less emotional opposition to,  and far greater opportunity for intelligent discourse and compromise on this issue and many others, if the Obama Administration did not habitually act like the opressor the Second Amendment is intended to protect Americans against. 
The obstreperous, conniving, bullying abuse of power, and the disdain and hostility toward all opposition that characterizes this administration causes multi-millions of Americans to cling ever more firmly to their bibles, their constitution, and indeed their guns.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  wind W trending N, light to moderate. The sky is overcast and snow is beginning to fall.  The barometer stands at 29.60, the humidity is 80%.  The roads are a little slick this morning but walkable.  It looks like we will be getting some accumulation of snow.
    It warmed up enough again yesterday to dissipate a lot of the road slush and to allow me to widen out the snow clogged driveway, which I noticed a lot of folks doing, with shovel and with snow blower.
    In the post office  yesterday  I struck up a conversation with a stranger who said he lived out on Torbick Road.  I told him about the four turkeys we often see walking down it and he said that is because they come and feed with his chickens and think they are part of the flock.  Drives his dog nuts.
    I have been watching with a lot of interest the dust up over the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s comments that he can no longer guarantee the safety of the county’s citizens so they should take advantage of the opportunity to arm themselves for their own protection.  It is an interesting stance for the sheriff to take, and I probably agree with it in theory, but Milwaukee County is virtually all urbanized and most municipalities, from the City of Milwaukee to the smallest suburbs have their own police forces. so basic police protection is the responsibility of the municipalities.  The County Sheriff patrols the freeways, some of the park areas and the few unincorporated areas, and provides other ancillaryservices.  Obviously the Sheriff’s Department has important  responsibilities but it is not as though it were the primary law enforcement agency.
    That said, having lived in Milwaukee County for many years, the last time for several years in the major suburb of Wauwatosa, I would probably take the Sheriff’s advice and own a suitable weapon for home protection at least, if not to carry.  Twenty years ago when we lived in Wauwatosa it was not uncommon on a warm summer evening to hear gunshots from inside the Milwaukee city limits a mile or two away, something I did not experience in years of working in the Bronx and living in Westchester County, New York.  It's doubtful that things have improved since then.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  32 degrees, wind WSW, calm.  The barometer is trending down at 29.52 in., and the humidity is 95%.  It was a soupy morning, the fog just now lifted enough to reveal Madeline Island.  the roads and walks are a veritable "sheet of ice, " and few folks are out and about.  Tina Nelson was walking her little miniature husky Shasha, but was creeping along the crusty edges of the road.  I ventured as far as the end of the driveway to say hello, and I let Buddy skitter up and down the icy road until even he got tired of overshooting his mark and crashing into embankments and flipping onto his backside.  As for myself, I have no desire to suffer another broken ankle or egged head.
    Another below zero cold snap is predicted to hit Bayfield and environs on Thursday, and I sure hope the city crews plow the heavy slush off the roads before then, or we will be negotiating frozen lumps, bumps and ridges of ice.  I do not approve of the heavy use of road salt, but these condition will have to be dealt with or the body shops will be very busy.
    Senator Feinstein is introducing radical new legislation restricting firearms, the details of which I won’t bother to debate here because of the improbability of its passage, even in the Democratically controlled Senate.  But I will point out one provision which highlights the cynicism not only of such legislation but of the Senator herself:  the bill specifically exempts public officials (that includes Senator Feinstein) from the restrictions of the bill.  Senator Feinstein can carry any one of the dozens of banned automatic pistols in her purse, or keep it in her home to protect herself.  You can’t. 

Monday, January 28, 2013


Monday,  8;30 AM.  23 degrees F, wind WSW, calm.  The sky is overcast, with freezing fog creeping up the bluff from the channel.  The humidity is 94%, and the barometer stands at 29.91 in., down from  yesterday .  We had several more inches of heavy snow last night, and the swooping branches of the big white pines look as though one more snow flake might send them crashing to the ground. The dense lake fog envelopes everything, deftly concealing the treacherous ice of the great lake.
    This morning members of the City of Bayfield Tree Board meet with their counterparts in Washburn and Ashland, at the Washburn Public Works Department.  We will discuss our respective programs, including our street tree inventories, and ways in which we may cooperate, including joint grant applications to state and federal agencies.  We have been intending to do this for some time and look forward to new relationships and opportunities.
    Saturday was not only a tragic day of loss for Bayfield, but a real challenge for our emergency first responders.  The helicopter we heard overhead on Saturday afternoon was not a flight for life for fishing guide Jim Hudson, but an emergency flight for a snowmobiler badly injured when two machines collided on a trail outside of town.  Jim went through thin ice on his snowmobile off the south end of Madeline Island shortly after the first accident.  Sam, our Coast Guard neighbor next door was one of the responders to Jim’s plight, who evidently had no chance of survival after forty-five minutes in the icy water, whether he had been transported to Duluth by helicopter or not.
    Fun, adventure, danger, death, all on a Saturday afternoon. As tragic as the events were, we are fortunate only one life was lost, as the rescuers lives were endangered as well.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Sunday, 9:00 AM. 16 degrees F, wind WSW, calm.  The sky is overcast in the east, the sun still not making an appearance.  The humidity is 88% and the barometer is trending down at 30.16 in.
    Joan and I were having coffee yesterday at the dining room table around 2:00 PM when we heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter passing low over the house.  “Coast Guard rescue practice,” I commented.  How wrong I was, as we found out on the 10:00 PM local news out of Duluth.  It was no practice run and I now assume it was the regional Medivac helicopter taking off for Duluth.  
Jim Hudson, former Bayfield policeman turned fishing guide died yesterday when his snowmobile went through the ice somewhere off Madeline Island. He was in the water forty-five minutes before local EMTs and the Coast Guard were able to rescue him, but he was in the icy water too long and died of hypothermia. I know no more of the details of the tragedy at this time, but Jim, who was only 34, leaves a young widow, Hannah Stonehouse Hudson.  She is a professional photographer and the two were struggling Bayfield entrepreneurs, the kind of young folks the community desperately needs.
    We have been watching the fitful progress of ice formation on the channel from the safety and warmth of our dining room window for the last several weeks, and it has been snow covered and treacherous right from the start.
Every winter the big lake claims its victims, and this season’s first loss strikes our own community, hard.  Lake Superior is an unforgiving mistress, as dangerous as she is beautiful.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Saturday, 9:00 AM.  14 degrees, wind W, calm at present.  A few fluffy snowflakes are falling straight down, on top of an inch or two that fell earlier.  Humidity is 83%, and the barometer has risen  to 30.40 in.
    The President hasn’t said much about “spreading the wealth” lately but I am sure it is still high on his to-do list.  With that in mind I have a proposal that would help him accomplish that goal.  Since Washington, DC absorbs a great percentage of the nation’s wealth, attracting billions of dollars annually in lobbyist and special interest money (it is said that GE alone spends over $100,000 each day on buying influence or rewarding its friends in DC while paying no federal taxes), and in view of the fact that the counties surrounding the capital are the wealthiest in the nation, I propose moving the capital to a more central location in the nation, say Fargo, ND for starters. 
    The capital could be moved every ten years or so to another deserving site, of which there are many…Marquette, Michigan; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Abilene Texas; to name a few more. I would rule out Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, probably Portland as well.   Of course all the monuments and office buildings could stay where they are, but the center of power…President, Congress and the Supreme Court… would be peripatetic.  Congressmen would not be tempted to move from their home districts to the frozen fleshpots of the plains, the President and the Supremes would be refreshingly closer to the people and might actually learn something about the nation, and best of all the lobbyists and other influence peddlers would be much less likely to spend time where they would freeze their butts off and couldn’t easily land their private jets.
    I suppose this sensible suggestion will be ignored as have so many others, but come on, Mr. President, let’s spread some of that DC wealth around!

Friday, January 25, 2013


Friday, 9:00 AM.  10 degrees F, wind SW, calm at resent, with good sized snow flakes falling straight down, and chimney smoke wafting straight up. I shoveled several inches of new snow this morning.  The humidity is 89%, and the barometer is trending down, at 29.91 in.
    Yesterday  evening I watched a supposedly humorous, but truly sickening,TV add celebrating forty years of Roe v Wade (legalizing almost any kind of abortion in the United States of America).  I have always looked at abortion “rights” as a sort of sadly necessary last resort for women who have an unwanted pregnancy and no other way out.  Before R v W abortion wasn’t talked about much as it was a semi-secret procedure done in private and early in a pregnancy.  But it has gone steadily from  last resort to  first resort, an in-your-face, legal and publicly funded procedure right up to killing the baby (that is the little secret we are always  dealing with here) in the birth canal.  The later is to me no different than infanticide, which we denounce as barbaric in other cultures, such as China and India.  This can be looked at as a religious issue, a moral issue or a political issue and usually exhibits elements of each and is therefore very easy to declare as unsolvable.
    I would like to introduce another factor into the mix; economic.  Social security and Medicare are going broke because we have a declining base of participants.  We have an aging workforce that cannot or will not do much of the physically hard or unpleasant work of the economy, so we accept illegal immigration with all its attendant problems as inevitable.  Without R v W we would have had the natural population growth necessary to render both those huge problems solved, or at least stabilized.  55,000,000 potential American citizens killed in the past forty years, perhaps 10,000,000 illegal immigrants … those are huge numbers, which history is not going to allow us to ignore.  Religion aside, do we really wish to be infanticide dependent societies like China, India and, yes, our old nemesis Russia? Russia is stagnating and shrinking largely because of this issue, and Europe cannot maintain  its population and has become dependent upon immigration, legal and illegal, mostly from societies that cannot or will not be assimilated.  Birth control is another, related topic, about which there are other arguments,  but abortion and infanticide are by anyone’s logic or morality poor and unacceptable substitutes for it, and every society, ours included, eventually suffers the consequences of its actions and beliefs.
    The President and his Administration have enjoyed a field day of left wing elation over the Roe v. Wade fortieth anniversary.  But they can’t or won’t admit to the havoc it has wrought.  It is an anniversary worthy of shame, not of celebration. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Thursday, 9:00 AM.  –3 degrees F, wind W, calm with occasional light gusts.  The barometer has risen to 30.72 in. and the sky is clear, but the humidity is still 83%.  It snowed a few more inches last night, and it is beginning to be difficult to know where to put some of it, although it looks as though it has finally stopped.  The sun is so bright and the endless white snowscape so reflective that it makes one squint, and I almost got my sunglasses out of the truck while shoveling snow this morning.
    The channel is frozen over and snow covered now, the ferries struggling  along their ice clogged pathways.  It looks like we will have an ice road this winter.
    We had to go to Ashland yesterday afternoon, which turned out to be a near blizzard and whiteout, with two cars in the ditch just south of Bayfield as we left town.  One vehicle disappeared down a steep embankment and into a small ravine, and still hadn’t been extricated by the time we returned, and wouldn’t you know it as we slowed down for the wrecker a car passed us going up the hill, entirely in the opposite lane and not slowing down a bit. Poor visibility, slick roads and driving too fast for conditions can spell disaster.  And going off the road in frigid weather is no fun even if there is no significant damage. 
It’s all rather analogous to Congress, the Administration and the national debt

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Tuesday,  8:45 AM.  –10 degrees F, wind WSW, calm to light. The humidity is 83%, the barometer up slightly at 30.39 in.  the atmosphere is heavy with haze but I don’t think there are any real clouds and it should clear. We got another three inches of snow last night, and everything is covered with a heavy mantle of white.  There was only a faint pink hint of a sun as it rose through the dense lake fog this morning.  It is all very mystical and magical if one can ignore the biting cold long enough to appreciate it.
    W are pretty well buried in snow, well over a foot-and-a-half by my snow-shoveling estimate, since it started falling almost a week ago.  The cold weather has been with us even longer, as this is turning out to be a real old-fashioned winter, or at least the most wintry in a decade.
The Wisconsin State Senate and Assembly Mining Committee is holding a hearing this morning on a revamped mining bill.  They have been criticized for not holding the meeting in Northern Wisconsin where the mine would be located, but Madison is after all the capital, although maybe it ought to be located  in Wausau or somewhere in the middle of the state, but that is a moot question.  In any case, all the arguments for and against a new iron mine in the Penoke iron range have already been heard, and the new law promises to be more or less similar to that proposed last year.  There is every reason to be cautions about the environmental impacts of a mine, but many of the objections are, in my estimation, more obviously obstructive than instructive.
Remember the acronym NIMBY, “Not in my back yard”?  Some of those who still reject the mine regardless of its positive economic and social impacts, and regardless of how environmentally safe it may be rendered, can now be properly called  BANANAS.  “Build absolutely nothing, anywhere near anything.”  This is a cold climate for a tropical fruit, but many seem to survive in Bayfield.,


Wednesday, 9:30 AM.  1 degree F, up from below zero earlier.  The wind is WSW, calm to very light.  The barometer stands almost unchanged at 30.17 in., the humidity is 85%, and the sun is still but a ghostly presence in the morning fog and haze. The trees stand unmoving,  rigidly cast in ice and snow. 
    Yesterday, the coldest day in six years, was spent traveling the frozen tundra to Duluth and back.  The roads were O.K., Hwy 13 somewhat slippery down to Hwy. 2,  which was in pretty good shape both directions.  It never got above –10 degrees F the entire 90 miles, the winter scene frigid and brutal.  Duluth had –20 F yesterday morning and schools were closed.  We got our business done O.K. but it was bitterly cold going to and from the truck.  The scenery on the roads was starkly, frigidly beautiful and we warmed up with a great lunch at the Pickwick in downtown Duluth, a fine old dark, wood paneled pub and restaurant with elk and moose antlers on the walls.  Not wanting to cook dinner when we got back home, we had real wood-fired pizza at Da Lous’ in Washburn, the best pizza north of Chicago and east of New York in my somewhat expert opinion.  Buddy scored a MacDonalds cheddar melt burger, which he evidently thought well of. We all went to bed road weary, but warm and well fed.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Monday, Martin Luther King holiday.  8:30 AM.  –12 degrees F, wind W, moderate with strong gusts.  It is overcast, cloudy and hazy, with snow still falling and blowing after getting another 4” last night.  The barometer is still up at 30.19 in. and the humidity is 81%.  While out shoveling snow earlier I blew the whistle to call Buddy, and it froze momentarily to my lips, which reminded me of the gullible kid in grade school who was persuaded to put his tongue on the flagpole (it wasn’t me, and I didn’t have anything to do with it).
This holiday is always a somber one for me, as it brings back all the tragedies of the ‘60’s; the assassination of not only MLK but also JFK and RFK, and the riots. The divisions and failures of Vietnam, the constant unrest and acrimony of those tumultuous times, which wore one down, and down… and down. Many of the memories are very personal and unpleasant, and I have to counter them with happy memories of early marriage, a young family, and the challenges and rewards of education and an accelerating career.  The ‘60’s, like most of life, were for me a mixture of joy and sadness, success and failure, hope and despair.
I also remember well my first experience with the old Jim Crowism of the South, encountered during a trip by automobile to Florida in 1953, the year my father died (no family trips after that last one).  I remember my disbelief and revulsion at the “whites only” signs outside restrooms, waiting rooms and restaurants, even on drinking fountains.  I remember pulling into a filling station and, because I was working in a filling station back home, I started to clean the windshield of our car, and the gas station owner coming out and remonstrating, “Wait up there son, I got a boy here to do that,” and an old black man shuffling out to finish the job.  And I remember my father, on his last vacation, stopping along the highway to talk to old “colored folk” as they fished from bridges to ask the eternal question, “What’s bitin’?”  And I remember standing inspection in basic training a few years later before a black officer, who was all spit-and-polish, but  who didn’t chew me out for the deficiencies in my own less-than-perfect appearance. 
So here we are, a half-century and more later and sometimes I fear no more united or further ahead than before, but that’s not really true either.  Martin had a dream, and so did I… and so did we all.  And so must we all, once again.

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Sunday,  9:00 AM.  1 degree F, wind W, calm with occasional gusts. The sky has a high overcast which may clear later, and there is fog over the channel and the islands.  The humidity is 83% and the barometer up, at 30.32 in.  A light, very fine snow is beginning to fall, of which I just cleared an inch or two from the drive and walk.  If this cold snap continues as predicted the channel will freeze over and stay that way.  People have been complaining that we never get a real winter anymore…this should satisfy them.
    I have a Sunday commentary that does not violate my “never on Sunday” pledge because it is not about politics, but morality and political correctness.  Children are now being (it happened again a day or two ago) punished with expulsion from school for any kind of intimation that they are “playing guns,” even with a pointed finger, while society accepts and even encourages realistic, violent video games and  movies and TV programs that closely mirror reality.  The same confusion exists with sexual images, with which children are constantly bombarded, and then punished when they imitate them.  And normal childhood sexual curiosity is stifled.  Double standards loom everywhere and it is becoming increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for children to know what is right and what is wrong. 
    In fact, right and wrong are hardly even taught as concepts anymore.  It is Sunday.  How many children will go to Sunday school today, where they might learn the Ten Commandments, the basic building blocks of society?  Parents are pressured by society, even required, to give children far more of almost everything than they can absorb, use or even appreciate, while political correctness dictates that every transgression or abnormality in the greater population must be condoned or explained as personal freedom, or as psychologically irresistible.  Situational morality rules; on the one hand, something is wrong, but on the other hand, it is right, or easily excused.  The world of children is increasingly devoid of positive role models, as sports heroes and politicians and the media elite are free to break the rules as long as they don’t get caught, or can cover up or explain away their indiscretions.
    Perhaps the biggest challenge to children today is in the area of play.  Many children grow up not knowing what is play and what is real, as they are often  punished for much of what is only play, while being kept from innocent and natural play through constant use of the TV and video games as baby sitters. To make matters worse, children are denied  the opportunity to play during the school day, which is now supposed to be all work at learning without the interruption of recess and physical play.  And when play is allowed it is usually highly structured by adults, with adult rules and adult concepts of winning and loosing, and is not childhood play at all. 
    I am afraid that we are creating adults who were never really children, many of whom have lived in a fantasy world of their own making and through which they have escaped growing up, and when they finally encounter real life in the real world they simply cannot cope.  Raising children today is a real challenge.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


    Saturday, 9:00 AM.  20 degrees F, wind SW, calm to light.  The humidity is 90%, the barometer steady at 29.71 in.  It has stopped snowing, and we have gotten about a foot since it started.  Slow and steady, but pretty significant, and  I am energized from all the exercise. 
    The evergreens are heavily laden with snow, which they will start to shed as soon as it warms up a bit more, posing the threat of snow down the back of one’s neck should you walk beneath them.  The channel is frozen and covered with snow except for a band of open water midway between the mainland and Madeline Island, but it is fragile and I doubt  it will last.
    We drove to Washburn yesterday evening on lonely, slippery roads but the walleyed pike at The Steak Pit was worth the trip.  Maybe they should change the name to The Fishing Hole.  The scenery on the way back, walls of ghostly white trees appearing and disappearing in the falling snow and dancing headlights, made the trip even more worthwhile.
    Things become ever more confusing these days, viz :  Why did Lance Armstrong, a hero athlete, lie like a weasel about doping for decades and then confess to, of all people,  Oprah?  How did Heisman Trophy candidate Monti Te’o get duped into, or become complicit in, a fantastically stupid ruse about a nonexistent dead girlfriend? Why did Notre Dame University become involved in such nonsense?  How did Barack Obama get into Harvard and then go on to be elected president? Life is full of mysteries.

Friday, January 18, 2013


Friday, 9:30 AM.  12 degrees F, wind variable very  light.  The humidity is 89%, the barometer stands at 29.96 in.  It is foggy and overcast and snowing moderately.  I just shoveled 3+” and will need to shovel again before I go to get the mail.  Our snowfalls often don’t seem like much but they can just keep on going, like the Energizer Bunny.  The channel is not visible but my guess is that it has a light covering of ice and snow, since it has been cold with little or no wind.
    The Administration is now saying that, of course, Al Qaeda is rampant in Libya, Algeria, Mali and other parts of North Africa.  We are even supporting French military efforts to combat it in Mali.  The Jihadists evidently were not there at all only a few months ago, when they were supposedly  defeated, and they were certainly not a threat in Benghazzi before the fatal attacks of September 11th, 2012, and all this resurgence took place or came to light only after the November Presidential election.  Things sure change fast these days.  If it weren’t all so tragic it might be the subject of another propaganda movie, like The Great Dictator, staring Charlie Chaplin.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Thursday, 9:00 AM.  4 degrees F, wind W, light with stronger gusts.  the cloud cover is a high overcast.  The humidity is 76% and the barometer has risen to 30.38 in.  The channel waters froze over last night but if the wind picks up the ice will disappear again. It is snowing very lightly at present.
    Yesterday afternoon it did become sunny and partly cloudy in the afternoon, and we were treated to a long sunset of billowing banks of pink and mauve clouds, one of the most beautiful skies we have ever seen.  The atmosphere was so clear that the distant iron ranges were brought close, and near and far objects seemed to blend almost as if they were on a two dimensional, flat canvas rather than existing in three dimensional reality, and the waters between the mainland and Basswood and Madeline Islands reflected all the colors of the ambient atmosphere, a veritable liquid rainbow.
    Having just finished reading the Theodore Roosevelt biography Mornings on Horseback, I couldn’t help wondering how old TR would have handled the current gun control and related issues which have become so central since the Sandy Hook school shootings.  For all his idiosyncrasies and his manic personality, he was a very straightforward person, in both his public and private life, and physically and intellectually very brave.
 As regards guns, he was given a twelve gage shotgun for his tenth birthday and spent his boyhood days afield with it.  He was a hunter all his life, considered himself a cowboy and rode with his six shooter and his Winchester rifle on his Bad Lands ranch, and personally led his Rough Riders into battle in the Spanish American war.  He miraculously survived an  anarchist assassin’s gunshot to the chest while president, and afterwards carried a pistol for self protection, probably the only president ever known to pack a pistol (there were no further attempts on his life).  I am sure he would have vigorously defended the right of Americans to arm and defend themselves, their families and their properties.
    T R was a consummate and combative politician, but I cannot envision him using children as stage props or to augment his arguments to the public.  He would have thought it beneath his personal dignity and the dignity of the office of the president.  And I will bet he would have been fully behind local and state efforts to provide armed protection for school children, even the arming of teachers.  He probably would have approved of armed citizen posses to protect schools.  One thing is certain, he wouldn’t be putting up signs announcing that schools were “gun free zones,” and thereby inviting every madman to make the most of the opportunity.  TR was not a “Gun Free” president.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Wednesday, 8:45 AM.  28 degrees F, wind W, light.  Humidity 86%, barometer 29.60, down from yesterday.  1” of snow fell last night.  It is another dark morning and it looks like it may stay that way, although yesterday’s gloom cleared nicely by mid morning.
    The discussion on gun control is now virtually on hold until after the President makes his statements regarding executive orders on the subject today.  In the meantime, New York’s Governor Cuomo has ranted, raved and rammed though new restrictive gun laws for what is already one of the most gun-regulated states.  There has been a literal stampede by politicians of all stripes to be on what they perceive as the most popular side of this issue, and rationality and the Second Amendment be damned. 
I do not wish to trivialize or over simplify this thorny issue, but let me point out just one poorly thought out aspect of the New York legislation, and that is the new legal limit for the amount of bullets a hand gun can hold.  I am no expert on guns of any kind and don’t at present own a pistol, but I know that most revolvers hold only six shots, so the new legal limit of seven shots applies to automatic pistols, which are the most popular for self and home defense, and many if not most of these hold more than the new legal limit.  Therefore I assume most handguns are now illegal in New York State, unless the magazine is modified to hold only the legal number of bullets.  O.K. so far, perhaps.
    But how is this law to be enforced?  By authorities pounding on the door in the middle of the night, because that is when people are most likely to be found at home?  And then demanding an immediate inspection of weapons on the premises? 
First, what a great opportunity for thieves and home invaders to seek entrance.  Second,  if a gun is found to be illegal, is it then confiscated on site?  Third, will criminals and crazy people pay any attention to this law?  Fourth, if an intruder or attacker is shot more than the legal number of times,  will the homeowner or person being mugged on the street be found more guilty than his or her attacker?  Responsible legislation should be carefully considered, not rushed through in an emotional frenzy.
    To use some old fashioned, gun-tottin’ language, don’t shoot from the hip.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Tuesday, 8:45 AM.  11 degrees F, wind WSW, light.  The sky is mostly overcast but low clouds are moving and it will probably clear later, although the sun is presently hidden.  The humidity is 78%, the barometer steady at 39.26 in.
    Yesterday was pretty much another cold, stay-indoors day, but driving to the IGA in Washburn at about 3:30 PM we had a surprise encounter with four deer in the middle of Hwy. 13, about eight miles south of Bayfield.  I can think of no good reason for them to have been out and about at that time of day, at this time of the year, unless they were being chased by something, which did not seem to be the case.  Go figure.
    Buddy keeps bringing home frozen loaves of French bread which he is evidently digging out of a snow bank somewhere nearby.  He is quite distressed when I won’t let him bring them in the house.  I suppose a neighbor is feeding the birds and squirrels with stale bread.  Or, maybe a bakery truck turned over…no evidence of that, however.  Perhaps Buddy is really a French, not an English pointer, and we should get him a beret. 
    I see that the government has decided not to mint trillion dollar platinum coins to finance the public debt.  That’s a good thing.  Now if they would stop printing worthless paper money that would be even better.  Go to “The Ticker” web site for an erudite if fantastical discussion of monetary theory, which sloughs off the whole controversy of the national debt with the statement that “money is nothing more than a shared illusion.” That may well be, but I fear that illusory dollars will soon buy only illusory food, fuel and clothing. 

Monday, January 14, 2013


Monday, Martin Luther King Holiday,  9;00 AM.  9 degrees F, wind SW, calm at present. Humidity 86%, barometer 30.29 in. It should be noted that the conditions here, partway up the bluff, are often somewhat different than at lake level downtown, where the wind is unobstructed.  Temperature is usually about the same.  Conversely, winter temperature and particularly snowfall can be much different, usually colder and snowier, at the top of the lake bluff and the hills and valleys to the west.  The sun was only a hopeful glimmer on the eastern horizon this morning, and it still has not made an appearance.  It looks like another dark, cold day suppressed by a low overcast.  The channel, which was frozen over briefly yesterday morning is  completely open again.We got another inch or two of snow last night and my thinly gloved fingers got cold scraping it off driveway and walk.
    The holiday is always a somber one for me, as it brings back all the tragedies of the ‘60’s; the assassination of not only MLK but also JFK and RFK, and the riots. the divisions and failures of Vietnam, the constant unrest and acrimony of those tumultuous times, which wore one down, and down and down. Many of the memories are very personal and unpleasant, and I have to counter them with happy memories of early marriage, a young family, and the challenges and rewards of higher education and an accelerating career.  The ‘60’s, like most of life, were for me a mixture of joy and sadness, success and failure, hope and despair.
    Yesterday was an iconic Bayfield winter Sunday; cold, snowy, windy, quiet.  It summoned one to the fireplace, which I kept well stoked all day.  I cleared the driveway in the morning and took a blustery walk with the dog in the afternoon on the  fresh snow, but the truck never left the garage, which is a true rarity.  Every excuse to go somewhere was vetoed, and we had a nice day, uninterrupted except for welcome family phone calls.
 I am almost finished reading Mornings on Horseback, the latest Teddy Roosevelt biography, and I still can’t say I like him much, not that it makes any difference whether I do or not.
    Buddy must have read yesterday’s blog, as he left the rabbits under the shed unmolested.  Or maybe it was just too cold to bother with them, as it was with most else.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Sunday, 9:00 AM.  11 degrees F, wind W, calm to light.  The humidity is 84%, and the barometer is up some, at 30.12.  It is overcast but promises to clear. It is a foggy, misty morning, the pale sun shinning fretfully through the murky atmosphere.  We are getting some lake effect snow, about an inch of which fell last night and the city  trucks have already addressed.  The channel appears to have frozen over last night and is covered with the fresh snow, but the least pickup in wind will scatter and sink it.  The new snow clings to the long needles of the big white pines, and the short needles of the Jack pine on the south side of the house are adorned with hoar frost. 
    Yesterday afternoon a squall line of snow blew through Bayfield from the west, riding on the strong winds that had been blowing all day.  Several inches of snow was deposited on the ground in a very short time, and the city became fresh and white once more.
    I will continue my pledge of no political commentary, my “Never on Sunday” vow in the new year. 
But it being Sunday and my pen being restless, I will offer you a sermonette.  About the evils of obsession.  The surrendering of logic and propriety to an activity that, if not actually harmful (although most obsessions are, by their very nature), is at best wasteful and distracting.  We have all had obsessions; some, like smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol or even food, can be life threatening.  Add phoning and texting while driving to that list.
    Others,  such as watching endless hours of TV football games or spending too much time on one hobby or another are likely only to draw the ire of one’s wife, although that can be quite dangerous  as well, come to think of it.
    And then there is Buddy’s obsession with the rabbits that live under the shed.  He simply cannot, cannot go out the door without making a bee-line for the woodshed.  He stares at the rabbit hole under the shed door.  He runs around and around the shed, nose to the ground, oblivious to everything else.  Not a seemly  thing for a bird dog to do.  And his obsession has tempted him into digging under the shed, trying to roll the stone underpinnings out of his way.  If I didn’t call him off he would soon disappear beneath the shed, tail wagging furiously all the way.
    I tell him “no,” and to “leave it.”  Which he does…and then is back at it again as soon as I turn my back.  He is obsessed.
Now, obsessions have consequences, some merely unpleasant, like being berated by your wife, some dire, such as a car accident, some fatal, like cancer or cirrhosis of the liver.  Whether such consequences result from punishment by a higher power (have to bring that up, as this is Sunday, after all) or simply the natural consequences of the obsessive act itself is of little consequence.  The end result is the same.
    For Buddy the consequence of his unremitting submission to obsession will  be do to the act of a higher power…me.  The next time he digs under the shed while wearing his electronic collar he is going to get zapped.    

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Saturday, 9:00 AM.  28 degrees F, down from 34 degrees at 8:00 AM.  It is very windy, and cloudy, with a high overcast.  The barometer stands at 29.60, the same as yesterday morning.  The humidity is 78%.  It was a blustery walk, with still some slippery spots, but the wind is drying the roads nicely.
    Correction: local reader Dennis McCann pointed out that there were some discrepancies (I will use the term urban myths) printed in yesterday’s blog. I checked out on the web site Snopes the news item which reported that the children of members of Congress do not have to pay back student loans, and that information seems to be incorrect, and that  there is no legislation or rule that guarantees such forgiveness.  The federal government does, however, offer up to $10,000 in student loan forgiveness to new hires in “hard to fill” government jobs…could that perhaps apply to persons hired to work in Congressional offices, jobs that are often given to family members, and that is how the myth arose? Also the following, from the web site “Members of Congress receive retirement and health benefits under the same plans available to other federal employees. They become vested after five years of full participation.

Members elected since 1984 are covered by the Federal Employees' Retirement System (FERS). Those elected prior to 1984 were covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS). In 1984 all members were given the option of remaining with CSRS or switching to FERS.

As it is for all other federal employees, congressional retirement is funded through taxes and the participants' contributions. Members of Congress under FERS contribute 1.3 percent of their salary into the FERS retirement plan and pay 6.2 percent of their salary in Social Security taxes.

Members of Congress are not eligible for a pension until they reach the age of 50, but only if they've completed 20 years of service. Members are eligible at any age after completing 25 years of service or after they reach the age of 62. Please also note that Members of Congress have to serve at least 5 years to receive a pension.

The amount of a Congressional pension depends on the years of service and the average of the highest 3 years of his or her salary. By law, the starting amount of a Member's retirement annuity may not exceed 80% of his or her final salary.

According to the Congressional Research Service, The average Congressional annual pension was $35,952 in 2006.

Current salary for rank and file members of both houses of Congress is $174,000 per  year [and much higher for Congressional officers].”

    The outrage over the publishing of registered gun owners names and the locations of their homes in Westchester and Rockland Counties north of New York City by the local newspaper continues.  The publishing of this information under the guise of open records laws has put a wide range of citizens, from police officers to battered wives, in danger from criminals and the mentally deranged.  New York Governor Cuomo has jumped into the gun controversy in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy and is actually calling for the confiscation of legally  registered and owned guns. 
    The radical left is having a field day, but it all appears to be backfiring on them as more and more citizens react to these assaults on their Second Amendment rights. 
    This whole scenario is looking more and more like an attempt by not only the federal government but some states as well to disarm the American public, as did Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Chavez and many other successful dictators of both the right and the left. Let us not forget that individual states have had dictatorial governments as well, Louisiana’s Huey Long being an historical case in point. 
    Tyranny recognizes no  difference between Communism, Socialism, Statism or any other “ism.”    The enslavement of the people is the objective, and disarming them is the first step towards their subjugation

Friday, January 11, 2013


Friday, 9:00 AM.  34 degrees F, wind WSW, calm.  It is a foggy, drippy morning after a freezing rain last night.  The humidity is 96%, the barometer is down somewhat at 29.59 in.  The driveway was a sheet of ice this morning but the city truck had been out earlier spreading road salt and Buddy and I did take a walk, I picking my way rather gingerly over the icy spots.  The fog blanketed any road noise and there was no one out and about.
    I often rail about the abuse of federal executive power, but Congress is just as bad.  We fought a revolution against not only monarchy but also the atendant nobility.  The abuses of both go hand in hand, and for far too long we have been  complacent about the abuses of Congress. Many citizens have no idea that members of Congress can retire with the same pay after only one term, and that they are specifically exempted  from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from   prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under the laws of the land.
    The latest affront by Congress to their constituents is to exempt themselves from all aspects of the Healthcare Reform Law.  That just isn’t right. We should not have an elite that is above the law.    And, as if these affronts were not enough, it has recently come to light that children of members of congress are exempt from having to pay back their student loans (so far only Fox News has broadcast that latest information).
    A recent public opinion poll rated Congress as less appealing than cockroaches.  Now we know why, and I  suspect the ancient  order of cockroaches may well be offended by the comparison.   
    However, we the people have the right and the obligation to address these blatant abuses of Congressional power, via our state legislatures and the process of amending the US Constitution.
    Governors of 35 states have already filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them, and it will only take 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention to propose a 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution, as follows: 

    "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States ."

If each person who reads this will forward it on to 20 people, in three days, most people in The United States of America will get the message.
    Please pass it around.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Thursday, 9:00 AM.  33 degrees F, wind w, light with a few stronger gusts.  The humidity is 61% (much better for my joints), the barometer is at 30.30 in., trending up.  The sky is cloudless as the January thaw continues, and it is clear enough to see the outline of the iron ranges to the east and south east. It was a soft, orange dawn in a light blue sky, the channel waters a greenish aqua.
     A life-long resident of Bayfield said the other day that one never really notices the days getting longer until the January calendar gets into the double digits, and I think she is right.
    Buddy is usually very polite, at least for a dog, so I was quite surprised the other day when he very pointedly (pardon the pun) stopped to lift his leg against the rear tire of a parked vehicle, a Subaru Outback.  Normally I would not pay much attention to such an event, but I got to thinking about it and have come to the conclusion that it was a conscious act of derision, or perhaps contempt.  I don’t know if dogs think exactly in those terms, but their thought processes and opinions can be pretty obvious at times to their owners.
    But why would he feel that way about, of all vehicles, a Subaru?  I have concluded that he has seen a particular Subaru add on TV once too often, as have I, and has taken serious exception to it.  The add shows a Subaru and its driver going through some years of life and its various stages, starting out with a man and his girl friend in the car,  accompanied by a puppy.  The puppy eventually grows into an adult Labrador retriever. The scenario continues thence to add a child  in a car seat and an old dog. It is all very charming, except that the add very obviously ranks the car above the dog as a loyal friend and companion. The add said in so many not so subtle words that the Subaru was the man’s best friend, not the dog (It really doesn’t say anything at all about the woman or the child).  The add along with its sappy music ends with the words, "It's not every day you find a companion as loyal as s Subaru," and finally,“Subaru…it’s what love is all about.”
    Now Subaru makes a good vehicle and it has many loyal owners.  But I share Buddy’s opinion of the add, and would advise the automobile company  to deep-six it posthaste, as no man worthy of the name is going to love his car more than his dog.  When it comes to friendship, four legs beat four wheels, every time.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Wednesday, 9:00 AM.  33 degrees F, wind W, very strong.  The sky is filled with angry, low black clouds.  There are a few flurries of tiny ice crystals.  The humidity is 67%, which is lower than it has been, and the barometer stands at 29.94, slightly lower than recent mornings but not a precipitous drop.  It all seems ominous but may well just blow over.  It is probably a good morning to stay out of deeply wooded areas where trees and branches may suddenly come down.
    I ran into local blog reader Einar Olsen at the post office yesterday, and he is giving me until spring to start posting photos again, and I assured him that I would either upgrade the old computer (unlikely) or get a new one (hate to spend the money) by then.
    I don’t know abut you, but I  some years ago came to the conclusion that our society is spending and regulating itself to death, and absent real and certain change in a direction that balances our federal budget and makes all of us more self-sufficient we will experience crushing inflation and an overbearing if not actually dictatorial central government (to say nothing of more wars).
But these and related problems have been around for a very long time, as evidenced by the quote that reader Barb Robertson forwarded to me yesterday:   

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed, lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work instead of living on public assistance." – Attributed to the Roman scholar, lawyer and philosopher Marcus Tribulus Cicero , 55 BC.

The more things change, the more they stay he same.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Tuesday, 9:00 AM.  20 degrees F, wind WSW, calm to light.  Humidity 86%, barometer 30.04 in.  The sky is mostly clear with some fog and haze in the east.  It looks like we are having our January thaw, perhaps a bit early.
    Yesterday was a gorgeous day all day, reaching 40 degrees F in Duluth.  The scenery along US Hwy. 2 did not disappoint.  Young stands of white barked birch and aspen were rendered even more starkly white than the snowy background by the nearly horizontal rays of the bright winter sun.  Colonies of shrub willows, young branches bright orange, and red-twigged dogwood greeted us in the low spots.  Ranks of dark green pines marched across the sandy ridges, while spire-like balsam firs stood sentry on the hillsides. 
    The “outing” of gun owners in counties north of New York City by the suburban Journal News     continues to cause unintended consequences, as the prison population is now taunting guards, deputies and police that they now know exactly where all these officers and their families live, since these officers names and addresses were published along with civilian gun permit holders. 
Just because something is a matter of public record does not mean that it should be released gratuitously by the government to the news media or any other entity.  Such requests for public records should only be honored one item at a time, only for legitimate reason, and not as part of some fishing expedition or media extravaganza. 
But gee, wouldn’t it be great fun to publish the names and addresses of all the folks in a community who receive public assistance of any kind…food stamps, supplemental income, home heating credit, Obama phones, welfare credit cards (now there’s an idiotic idea to make your hair stand on end)…wouldn’t that create enough gossip to enliven the winter!  Wouldn’t that expand the class warfare! Wouldn’t that embarrass the truly needy!
Is it really the objective of the left wing press, in collusion with the government,  to inflame every passion, stir every controversy, pit everyone against their neighbor?  And should we really trust the federal government to centralize all these records of private citizens so bureaucrats can give any and all personal information to anyone they choose, probably for a price?
And you know they will.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Monday, 8:00 AM.  27 degrees F, wind SW, moderate with strong gusts.  Humidity 75%, barometer 29.83 in.  Dawn was fiery brushstrokes of vivid red, orange, and green streaked across a smoky sky.  As the sun burst upon the canvas the artwork vanished, replaced by a clear blue sky adorned with a few tentative clouds.
    Yesterday, despite the morning darkness, turned out to be a beautiful day,  which should be a warning about dire predictions.  The demarcation between snow covered ice and open water on Cheqamegon Bay is now a line running east and west between Houghton Point, a few miles north of Washburn, to about the lighthouse at the northern tip of Long Island.
    I see the iconic French  actor Depardeau has been welcomed by Prime Minister of Russia Putin as an expatriot of France.  At least his millions have been welcomed.  France is paying a heavy price in lost taxes to be rid of him but  it is probably worth it.  We could take a lesson from France, as we could stand to be rid of a few millionaire actors as well. I think seriously raising taxes on Hollywood is a great idea!
    We have appointments in Duluth today and have to be off.  It is a fine day to travel.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Sunday, 9:00 AM.  25 degrees F,  wind mostly W, light. The humidity is 76%, and the barometer stands at 30.16 in. There are low dark clouds on the eastern horizon, which the sun is valiantly struggling to get through, but so far it has only managed to produce a few silvery streaks.  The rest of the sky is darkly overcast.  It is a dull, gray, quiet morning. 
    Ice formation was obvious on the quiet waters of the channel yesterday, the ferries leaving a visible track in the otherwise difficult to discern skim coat of freezing water. There has been enough wind and current since to dissolve it all except for a few patches of white ice, floating at random like oyster crackers in a bowl of soup.
    Yesterday the feeders were visited by a male purple finch, a welcome addition to the grays and blacks of the chickadees and nuthatches.  The chickadees are constantly busy pecking a the branches of the big lilac bush on the corner of the deck.  I suspect they are eating scale insects… gray, flat,  crusty, immobile objects that are easy to overlook unless you are a small bird looking for a winter snack.
    I am well into historian David McCullough’s new biography of the young Theodore Roosevelt, Mornings On Horseback.  I have never been much of a fan of T R, considering him rather dangerous and imperious, although interesting indeed. It is a day for birds and books.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Friday, 9:30 AM.  23 degrees F, wind SW, breezy.  It is a gloriously sunny morning and a great improvement from the dark, dismal mornings we have been experiencing.  The sun casts strong shadows in the woods, like black ink lines drawn on white paper.  The sun is so bright it is startling.  Andy is cooking pancakes, and the morning aromas are delicious.
    I told you yesterday about Buddy’s misadventures and misbehaviors, which we thought were over the top.  Over the top has been “topped,” but no real harm was done and it wasn’t, technically, Buddy’s fault, as a lot of strange things can happen when there are four folks “of a certain age,” as they used to say, and two dogs, occupying the same rather limited  territory.
    Let me say first that we all, humans and dogs, are getting along very well, despite the incident which I am about to relate.  In other words everyone is still talking and laughing about it.  Except dogs don’t laugh.  They can, however, smile, as you shall see.
    It all started with a truly fine dinner, Andy cooking fall-off-the-bone, delicious baby back ribs, properly accompanied by Joan’s tian, which is a baked combination of layered sliced potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini, the layers interspersed with gruyere cheese and placed on a bed of onions.  Of course a few glasses of decent wine accompanied the meal.  Good conversation followed a good meal, which was rather inevitably followed by some dozing in front of the fire.
    Joan, as usual reading a book, was startled by a rather strange sound, sort of a combination of clicking and clacking, and upon looking up from her book her first intuition was that Buddy or J.D., the Larsen’s dog, had purloined a rib bone from the garbage can, which would not be a good thing since either dog could easily crack it, and  bone splinters are not suitable for even a dog’s cast iron digestive tract.
Expecting to see a bone in Buddy’s mouth (he was at her feet making the strange noise) she was indeed startled to see him smiling at her.  It was so human a smile it was actually unnerving.  How could a dog have so angelic a smile, she pondered.  The teeth so white, so even, so…like a person’s!  It was a smile like they advertise on TV these days, sparkling white, a veritable Pepsodent smile!
    And it was, certainly,  a human smile!  But who’s smile was it?  Was the dog possessed by some ancient, or not so ancient, spirit?  Was Buddy an avatar of some sort?  Then the awful truth dawned on her!  She knew that smile!  She recognized those teeth! They belonged to someone in that very room!
    One of us, upon falling asleep, evidently removed his false teeth, perhaps intending to put them in a pocket, and drowsily dropped them on the floor.  So Buddy, who assumes that anything  falling to the floor is is his, decided to try  them out.  Joan, as soon as she realized the situation, shouted “drop it,” and a visibly  shaken dog did just that, while Joan quickly if somewhat reluctantly retrieved them, evidently little the worse for wear, although badly in need of a soaking in Efferdent.
    So, who’s smile was Buddy wearing?  As they used to say on the old time radio shows, “only the names have been changed, to protect the innocent, “ and the owner of that wonderful smile shall remain anonymous..


Saturday, 10:00 AM.  26 degrees F, wind WSW, light.  The sky is clear, the humidity 79%, the barometer at 30.04 in.  The soft colors of dawn were reflected in the congealing waters of the west channel this morning, pinks and oranges and purples hardened into a sheen of  iridescent green.  As the sun rose the thin coat of ice quickly melted and the bay is again clear all the way to Washburn, twelve miles to the south. 
    The lower Chequamegon Bay is now ice covered from Ashland to Washburn, the ice as far north as  the south channel, which lies between Long Island and Madeline Island. 
Andy and Judy and Joan and I went to The Village Inn  at Cornucopia for fish fry last night, joined by mutual friend Myron.  The fish choice was lake trout, whitefish and herring, all fresh from the lake that morning.  I had the herring, which I find every bit as good as the other fish, although it is a seasonal catch and not always available. 
    Andy and Judy left for home after breakfast this morning, and the last time I checked all of us were in possession of our teeth.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Thursday, 8:30 AM.  19 degrees F, wind WNW, light with moderate gusts.  The humidity is 80%, the barometer stands at 30.14 in.  It was a pitch black dawn (if that’s not an oxymoron). And the dark clouds are just now been pushed to the eastern and southern horizons, where they resist further movement with  sullen determination.  If it weren’t completely contrary to the laws of planetary motion I would think the sun to be stuck somewhere in the southern hemisphere, as it has made no evident progress in almost two weeks since the winter solstice.  But it promises to be a blue-sky day!
    Buddy is literally in the dog house, after being a very bad dog yesterday morning.  After we came in from our walk he was playing loudly, barking and charging around, tossing his toys, which we allow because it causes no harm and is rather endearing.  But, unsupervised, he chewed up a new cover I had just purchased for the grill, and demolished a pair of old binoculars that he took down from a shelf.  I think he swallowed one of the lenses, as it is nowhere to be found. 
    This all started several days ago when Joan let him play with and chew on an old slipper of hers.  She denies any responsibility of course, saying that I am the dog person, he is my dog, and I should have confiscated it. So I have learned three lessons from this little episode, which I pass on particularly to my male counterparts.
Lesson one: don’t let your dog chew on anything except a designated, identifiable  toy.  Lesson two: don’t trust your dog.  Lesson three: it’s always your fault.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Wednesday, 9:00 AM.  18 degrees F, wind SW, strong enough to move the branches of the white pine trees. The humidity is up at 88% and the barometer is trending down at 30.03 in. It is overcast and quiet, and it looks and feels like snow.  It was a dark, dark early morning and it is not getting much brighter.
    So we averted the fiscal cliff only to face the deficit precipice in a couple of months.  Looks like we are watching a modern version of The Perils of Pauline.  And the Keystone Cops.  A government double feature.  I feel like I am eleven years old again on a Saturday afternoon at the Grace Theater, and all the kids are running up and down the isles and having popcorn fights.
    A bright spot: we grilled a rib eye steak on New Years Day from the quarter of beef we purchased, and it was tender and delicious, with a bone for Buddy that he chewed on and played with for hours.  Also, Andy and Judy will be with us for a few days, a welcome diversion that will get 2013 off to a good start.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


Monday, 9:00 AM.  14 degrees F, wind from the north at high elevation, calm at ground level.  Humidity is 73%, the barometer stands at 30.14 In.  there was hardly a dawn at all, massive black clouds on the southeast and southern horizons rendering the morning almost as black, but it has brightened up considerably, although there is still a dichotomy between mostly clear blue skies to the north and black to the south.  The city streets are snow packed and icy, and I carried my sharp, metal pointed cane to negotiate the worst spots. I kind of like carrying a cane in the winter, it is good for a lot of things, and it feels good to have it in my hand.
        Yesterday they were setting up for the ice races on the bay in Ashland, just off Maslewski Park. Stock car races on ice, they provide some winter diversion.  We will have to watch them sometime.  Folks watch from their cars in the park, or drive out onto the ice.
        Yesterday I overheard a conversation at the gas station that went something like this: “Of course we should increase the taxes on the rich.  Sock it to ‘em.  They have way more than they deserve!”  “You really think so?”  “Damn right!  They have increased their wealth 240% since Reagan was president.”
        I kept out of the conversation, but couldn’t help but think, here we are right back where we were as a society sixty years ago, enamored with socialism and filled with envy and resentment.  And the little guy who was so abundantly filled with obvious hatred for anyone who had more than himself makes his living by doing odd jobs for the folks in the big houses on the lake.  And charges plenty.  And I suspect gets food stamps and every other welfare opportunity available.  And pays no taxes at all. 
        We are in a deep hole, led there by self serving, power hungry politicians, and it will take us a decade, maybe a generation, to climb back out. 
        And as for the “fiscal cliff” nonsense, there is no leadership, no common sense, no respect, and no patriotism; only politics.


Tuesday, New Year’s morning. 9:00 AM.  04 degrees F, wind W, calm to very light.  Humidity 85%, barometer 30.25.  It is an honest morning, with a nip in the air and a squeak to the snow when walking.  It was a three-legged morning for Buddy; run, pick up a foot to warm it and run on three, and so on.  At dawn, roiling clouds of steam and fog rose from the waters between Bayfield and Madeline Island, at last in their turmoil vaulting and wisping away into the air like gray and silver ghosts.  It was like a scene out of a creation story.
    Fiscal cliff?  What fiscal cliff?  The nonsense continues.  We went to bed last night fearing for the fate of the country.  We awoke today with similar feelings but, it is a new day and a New Year, and hope, as they say, springs eternal.
    I am also encouraged by the knowledge that the country has survived worse and afterward thrived; I just finished reading Abigail and John, by Edith B. Gelles, the story of John Adams, the second president, and his wife as told through their correspondence.  It is a story not only of a personal relationship between a man and wife, but of their relationship with their country throughout its revolution and early years.  She was as much a patriot as he, and in many ways as influential.  The internal political battles and the scurrilous attacks of faction on faction and politician upon politician nearly tore the new nation asunder.  It was an ugly time, even uglier than the present.  But we survived.