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Saturday, November 30, 2013


Saturday, 8:00 AM.  28 degrees F, wind W, calm at present.  The sky is lightly overcast and it is a very dark and quiet morning.  The humidity is 77'% and the barometer is trending down, now at 30.09".  I think we may get some snow.  It would be a nice morning to be in the woods but we are overflowing with garbage and recyclables and have to take care of that this morning.
   I shoveled the first real snow of the winter without much difficulty, although I am glad it wasn't any deeper.  I have about worn out my snow shovel and will have to look for a replacement.  I am quite fussy about shovels so it may take me a while to find exactly the right one.
   The Bayfield Chamber of Commerce raised funds to to purchase new light posts and lamps which were installed last spring during the repaving of Hwy. 13 through town. The fixtures are of a local historic design,  with modern functionality, and replace rather mundane lamp posts of 1950's vintage.  They were installed on both sides of Rhittenhouse Ave. from 4th st. to the City Dock, and also for one block south of Rittenhouse Ave. on Broad St. and on First Street from Rittenhouse Ave. north to Washington Ave.  I was rather neutral to the idea because of the expense, and also because I felt it was more important to add some trees along Rittenhouse rather than concentrate on lamp posts.  That said, I have to admit that the new fixtures are very pretty at night with their holiday greens and lights, and the whole downtown area is vastly more attractive, which should help downtown businesses.

Friday, November 29, 2013



Friday,  9:00 AM.  22 degrees F, wind WNW, calm to very light.  The sky is mostly cloudy but the sun is breaking through.  The humidity is 85% and the barometer is steady, at 30.58". It has stopped snowing, with a total accumulation of about 6".  It looks like I will spend most of the morning shoveling snow.
   The Northland is now in winter's grip, with half-a-foot or more of snow on the ground in many places  (but after all, that's the way it's supposed to be). The roads were very slick yesterday in the Bayfield area and it was a good day not to venture out.  Joan cooked, I shoveled, split firewood and fed the fire.  We were alone except for welcome calls from the kids.  Our Thanksgiving Chicken was great with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, sweet potatoes,  cauliflower and peas and fresh baked bread.    Desert was pumpkin pie with real whipped cream, and an after-dinner brandy for myself.
  Buddy had mostly the same dinner, except for the pumpkin pie and the brandy.  He didn't get to sit at the table either, although he would have liked to.
  So it was a quiet, rather thoughtful and very thankful holiday for us. We have everything we need  that is worthwhile, and what we may desire that we don't have we probably don't need, and are better off without.  Now if only I could get that big buck in the cross-hairs!

Thursday, November 28, 2013



Thursday, 8:00 AM.  20 degrees F, wind WSW, calm to light.  The sky is overcast and it is snowing lightly.  We have about 3" of snow on the ground.  The humidity is 89% and the barometer is trending down somewhat at 30.22". It is an old fashioned Thanksgiving, weather wise.
    Joan and I will celebrate Thanksgiving at home alone. It just turns out that way this year.  But we are, as always, with the friends and loved ones of all our Thanksgivings in spirit, grateful to God for those  who have gathered 'round our table throughout the years.


[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Go: Washington


A Proclamation.The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln

America has much for which to be thankful. The unequaled freedom enjoyed by our citizens has provided a harvest of plenty to this nation throughout its history. In keeping with America’s heritage, one day each year is set aside for giving thanks to God for all of His blessings. On this day of thanksgiving, it is appropriate that we recall the first thanksgiving, celebrated in the autumn of 1621. After surviving a bitter winter, the Pilgrims planted and harvested a bountiful crop. After the harvest they gathered their families together and joined in celebration and prayer with the Native Americans who had taught them so much. Clearly our forefathers were thankful not only for the material well being of their harvest but for this abundance of goodwill as well.
In this spirit, Thanksgiving has become a day when Americans extend a helping hand to the less fortunate. Long before there was a government welfare program, this spirit of voluntary giving was ingrained in the American character. Americans have always understood that, truly, one must give in order to receive. This should be a day of giving as well as a day of thanks. As we celebrate Thanksgiving in 1981, we should reflect on the full meaning of this day as we enjoy the fellowship that is so much a part of the holiday festivities. Searching our hearts, we should ask what we can do as individuals to demonstrate our gratitude to God for all He has done. Such reflection can only add to the significance of this precious day of remembrance.
Let us recommit ourselves to that devotion to God and family that has played such an important role in making this a great Nation, and which will be needed as a source of strength if we are to remain a great people. Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 26, 1981, as Thanksgiving Day. In witness where of, I have here unto set my hand this twelfth day of November, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and sixth.

- - - - - - -
Thanksgiving offers each of us the chance to count our many blessings -- the freedoms we enjoy, the time we spend with loved ones, the brave men and women who defend our Nation at home and abroad. This tradition reminds us that no matter what our background or beliefs, no matter who we are or who we love, at our core we are first and foremost Americans.
Our annual celebration has roots in centuries-old colonial customs. When we gather around the table, we follow the example of the Pilgrims and Wampanoags, who shared the fruits of a successful harvest nearly 400 years ago. When we offer our thanks, we mirror those who set aside a day of prayer. And when we join with friends and neighbors to alleviate suffering and make our communities whole, we honor the spirit of President Abraham Lincoln, who called on his fellow citizens to "fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union."
Our country has always been home to Americans who recognize the importance of giving back. Today, we honor all those serving our Nation far from home. We also thank the first responders and medical professionals who work through the holiday to keep us safe, and we acknowledge the volunteers who dedicate this day to those less fortunate.
This Thanksgiving Day, let us forge deeper connections with our loved ones. Let us extend our gratitude and our compassion. And let us lift each other up and recognize, in the oldest spirit of this tradition, that we rise or fall as one Nation, under God.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim Thursday, November 28, 2013, as a National Day of Thanksgiving. I encourage the people of the United States to join together -- whether in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors -- and give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of November, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

Let us celebrate the day in its true meaning of thankfulness for all our physical and spiritual blessings. And I am, as always, sincerely thankful for the stuffing, suffused with plenty of sage, and anointed with an ample ladle of mushroom gravy.
Art Ode

Wednesday, November 27, 2013



 Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  21 degrees F, wind variable from the north, light.  The sky is covered by a high overcast.  The humidity is steady at 69% and the barometer is trending up at 30.36".  It would probably be a decent morning to be out in the woods but I have an appointment in Ashland.  I haven't seen any deer on vehicles or hanging anywhere and no one I have talked to has seen much if anything. I went out for about an hour before dark yesterday afternoon, and it struck me again that I have seen no recent tracks, nor have I heard any coyotes (or wolves either, for that matter, but the two species seldom inhabit the same territory).  If I were alone in reporting the absence of deer activity I would chalk it up to being a poor hunter or hunting in the wrong territory but it seems to be the norm at least in our immediate area.  Things may be different further south around Washburn and Ashland.
   On October 25, 2013 the Almanac critiqued neighbor Beth's sustainable garden and landscape (please see).  It is an interesting landscape to me because it incorporates a lot of simple ideas to make gardening and landscaping more natural and inexpensive, using many components found on the site.  You may or may not like the esthetic effect but the process and its results are interesting and worthy of note.
   I guess she wanted to add a bit of homespun formality to her entrance drive so she created two columnar forms out of chicken wire, inserted them into holes dug to several feet in depth and filled them with small rocks raked up from her yard.  Leaving a hollow at the top she inserted  left over plastic pots and filled them with holiday greens.  Next spring she intends to fill the pots with soil and plant hen and chicks in them.  The columns are unique, sturdy and quite attractive.  Just don't back into them with that new SUV, Beth, it's not that sustainable!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013




Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  15 degrees F, wind WNW, light with stronger gusts. It is cloudy, overcast and beginning to snow in earnest, after depositing some light crystalline snow on roads and roofs overnight.  The humidity is 68% and the barometer is down or steady at 30.15".   It looks like yesterday was the best day to deer hunt so far and I missed it because I had an appointment with a plumber.  That's life, I guess.
    I talked with neighbor Eric this morning who hunts way out in the boondocks and usually gets his deer opening weekend, but he has seen nothing and is not going out until Friday when the weather is predicted to improve.  I will watch the weather and may go out and scout around a bit this afternoon, but it looks pretty futile at this point.  But at least we aren't getting hit by the big storm coming up from the gulf that is hitting the South and the East Coast.
   Secretary of state John Kerry, obviously with President Obama's approval, has completed negotiations in coordination with other major world powers, to allow Iran to continue its nuclear program for another six months with some rather dubious assurances it will not be used to produce an atom bomb.  Israel and Saudi Arabia are appalled, and congressional members of both parties are concerned, to the point of open rebellion by Democrats against the president.  I think the agreement a dubious deal at best, but at the moment I have other comments concerning it.
   The political philosophy we call Progressivism has more than a century of history, starting with the Granddaddy of all Progressives, Theodore Roosevelt.  He was a a night in shining armor to some, a rogue on horseback to others, but one thing was certain: he was an American patriot first and foremost. He projected American power as few American presidents before him, constructing his almost mythological Great White Fleet and sailing it around the world to convince both friends and foes of his nation's reach and power.  Love him or hate him, he never backed down from a fight and stood up for American values and interests abroad.
   Iran presently holds  several  Americans in its prisons: an Iranian-American Christian pastor who has been sentenced for preaching the gospel; an ex-marine who was nabbed while visiting family in Iran; and possibly a retired FDBI agent who was in all probability kidnapped from an Iraqi island.  The aforementioned negotiations with Iran were an obvious opportunity to pressure Iran for their release, as were the secret American-Iranian meetings which paved the way for the negotiations.  When we had maximum leverage and opportunity to obtain freedom for our citizens not a finger was lifted to gain their release, and they  are left twisting in the Iranian wind.
   Now page back in history to Theodore Roosevelt in 1904, and the Perdicaris Incident.  Ion Perdicaris was a less than admirable individual, a wealthy playboy of Greek heritage who subsequently was found to not even technically be an American citizen, but he was perceived to be so at the time he and his wife's son by a previous marriage were kidnapped by a Moroccan bandit named Raisuli and held for ransom.  The Sultan of Morocco was implicated as not being willing to negotiate with or confront the bandits (much like Tehran's situation with "students" supposedly holding Americans hostage during the Carter administration).
   Teddy Roosevelt's reaction to this affront to American national dignity was to send a flotilla of warships and a contingent of United States Marines to seize the customs houses of Morocco and then attack Raisuli if the hostages were not immediately released unharmed.  John Hay, Roosevelt's Secretary of State,  issued the unequivocal statement,  "Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead."
   The hostages were quickly released and the message was sent to pirates and bandits and sultans everywhere that the United States was not to be trifled with, and that it would protect its citizens with the engines of war when necessary.
   How different from the message we are sending today: that the United States of America, despite its unrivaled  military  and economic power, will turn its back on its citizens in distress in foreign lands if it is convenient to do so; that being an American citizen is no longer a shield from pirates and brigands; that we have abandoned our sacred pledge to never leave one of our own behind.
   The Iranians embarrassed and diminished President Carter and the United States by  holding our Embassy staff hostage from November 4, 1979 to January 2, 1981.  They are doing the same to President Obama and the nation today.  In retrospect the Iranians did us a favor back then, as it caused us to dump the feckless Carter for the valiant Reagan.  No such luck today, as we are stuck with the current occupant of the White House for another three years.
   TR was a Progressive, but he upheld the nation's honor and abandoned neither our citizens nor our American heritage.   No such luck today.

Monday, November 25, 2013



Monday, 8:30 AM.  33 degrees F, wind SW, light with moderate gusts.  The sky has a high overcast with dark clouds moving beneath it.  The humidity is 74% and the barometer is trending down, now at 29.78".  This is the morning I should be out in the woods.
   I did venture into the woods yesterday about 3:00 PM.  The temperature had risen to the low twenties so I thought maybe the deer would start moving.  But it was even windier than the previous day, a constantly roaring wind with gusts that must have reached forty or fifty miles per hour.  The red oak pictured is at least ninety feet in height and even though now bereft of its leaves it swayed  like a reed in the wind.  
   I built a little ground blind of branches and sat within it on a log.  When I stood to stretch the wind rocked me back on my heels.  I imagine the deer were bedded down in one of the nearby ravines or cedar swamps.  The outing was not wasted, however, as the sunset, the color of molten iron but as cold as hardened steel, was worth the frigid effort.
   I got a call yesterday from "C G" Johnson, who now owns the land I hunt on.  He hunts with a group of buddies about two hours to the southwest, and he wanted to compare notes. They also experienced bad weather.  His group of five did bag one deer on opening day but didn't see much else.  Except wolves.  He said he had a pack come right to his tree stand, out of either curiosity or arrogance. He found it  a bit unsettling.
   I have to wait for a plumber today to get some repairs done.  I can't let the opportunity pass by, as plumbers are as hard to track down as the deer here in the north woods.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Sunday, 9:30 AM.  12 degrees F, wind SSW, moderate with occasional strong gusts. The sky is overcast.  The humidity is 74% and the barometer stands 30.55".  It is a dull, cold day.
   I got up at 4:45 this morning.  It was ten degrees, the night as black and cold as the inside of a refrigerator with the door closed.  I went back to bed, and sleeping in sure felt good.  The temperature is supposed to moderate some this afternoon and I will go out in the woods later and see if anything is moving.  I did thaw out yesterday by the time I went to bed.  I haven't had a bottle of brandy in the house for a long time, but If this weather keeps up I think I'll need one.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Saturday, 9:00 PM.  It was a brutal day in the deer woods.  8 degrees at dawn, never got over 9 degrees all day.  The wind screeched through the woods, it must ave reached forty MPH at times.  I started the day in my tree stand but didn't stay in it very long as the branches above me groaned  and cracked continuously and I didn't want to end up being hit by a widow maker.  I heard one shot all morning and that far away.  But wouldn't you know, two grouse walked right under my stand.  The day didn't look that bad, with a mix of clouds and blue sky, but looks can sure be deceiving.  I still haven't thawed out.

Friday, November 22, 2013



Friday,  9:00 AM.  23 degrees F, wind westerly, variable with some moderate gusts.  The sky is clear.  The humidity is 79% and the barometer is up for now, at 30.15".  It is a chill but beautiful day.
   It looks like it will be a brutal first day of the Wisconsin gun deer season and I had better dress warmly.  Posts will be few and written in the evenings for at least a few days.
   A lot of older Americans, myself included, are spending some time turning the calendar back fifty years this morning, trying to remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news that President John F. Kennedy had been shot to death in Dallas.  If you are not old enough to have your own memories of that time, I will lend you mine.
   Since Thanksgiving is always on the fourth Thursday of the month the date changes with the years, but the calendar days of the week line up exactly this November as  they did that fateful November of 1963.  And in Wisconsin the deer season always includes Thanksgiving, so it was Friday, the day before the  Saturday opening of the gun deer season that JFK was shot, and today, the 22nd of November,  is also the day before the season  opens this year.
   Fifty years ago I was readying my gear and checking out my deer stand, and I am performing the same rituals today.  This time I will be doing so by myself, whereas a half century ago I was doing so with my buddy Bill Ballering.  At that time we were both working for a pipeline contractor and the whole business shut down for deer season, including the Friday before opening day.
   Bill and I were going to hunt in a large swamp near the little village of Mapleton, Wisconsin. A portion of the swamp was then, and still is, owned by another old friend Bill Peebles, with whom I still goose hunt each September.  The swamp is nearly inaccessible and we spent several hours in the morning   tramping around looking for deer sign and fallen trees to stand on.  In the afternoon, driving back to Milwaukee, I turned the car radio on and we were mystified by the somber, funereal music that was being played on every station.  After a few moments the announcement was made that the President had been shot and killed.  We were of course stunned, as was everyone else.  But that didn't mean we weren't going to hunt deer the next morning. Neither of us were married as yet so we had few personal obligations, and I have to admit we took the assassination sort of in stride as well.
   We got back into the swamp at first light on Saturday, and by then Lee Harvey Oswald had been apprehended and was in the Dallas jail,  Vice President Johnson had been sworn in as President, and  President Kennedy's body was back in Washington, DC.  Neither of us saw a deer on Saturday.  I certainly had plenty of time while sitting in a tree to think about the tragedy, but except for some fleeting feelings of sadness and  confusion I can't remember much else about the day.
    I was somewhat apolitical at twenty-seven years of age (I had just celebrated that birthday) and being who and what I was, I was not much of  an  admirer of the Eastern elitist,  Camelot crowd.  I guess Bill was about in sync with that attitude, and undeterred, we made plans to hunt again on Sunday.
   As I recall, the weather on Sunday morning was bright, sunny and a bit cold.  I think it was about eleven o'clock that Bill shot an enormous ten point buck.  The deer had magically appeared in some marsh grass about a hundred feet from where Bill was standing and he killed it outright with one slug from his twelve gage shotgun. Right through the neck and the jugular vein.  Bill had never hunted deer before and would never do so again. He  always said afterward that it was too easy. But I suspect it was because we almost killed ourselves getting that monster, that weighed almost two hundred pounds field dressed,  out of the swamp.  And we were both young, healthy and strong.
  So there we were, on the edge of the swamp with the buck hanging out the back of my station wagon.  It was almost noon, we were hungry and thirsty and still had to register the deer. There was a little country tavern that served lunch about a mile away, so we headed there.  The news surrounding the assassination was all that was on the black and white TV in the tavern, and as we sat there drinking  beer and eating was 12:20 PM in both Dallas, Texas and Mapleton, Wisconsin...we saw Lee Harvey Oswald shot by the small time mobster Jack Ruby as he was being escorted through the basement of the Dallas Police Department.  We and millions of other viewers could hardly believe what we had seen, and a tragedy suddenly escalated into a conspiracy, one that has not been laid to rest in a half century.
   Bill and I could well believe that a single gunman, Oswald, was able to kill the President with a couple of well-placed and maybe lucky shots.  Either one of us, at that time, might have been able to do  as much, so why not Oswald?  But Oswald able to be shot by Ruby in front of a national TV audience?  That stretched credibility a bit too far.
   The Kennedys, national nobility though they were, had many, many mortal enemies.  Kruschev and Castro were obvious, but the Kennedys had also made and broken alliances with the mob, the CIA and the Cuban counter revolution, all of which hated both JFK and RFK.  One of the reasons I myself did not mourn much  that fateful long-ago weekend was that I felt that the President had betrayed the Cuban freedom fighters by denying them promised air support for the Bay of Pigs invasion at the last moment, leaving them to die bleeding on the sand, or spend the rest of their lives in Castro's gulag.  Bill felt pretty much as I did.
   Bill and I still keep in touch, and I called him yesterday to  reminisce about that long ago deer hunt and the historic events surrounding it.  He said again that deer hunting never did appeal to him, and as for that big buck, it is only a foggy, distant memory. Like that of JFK himself.


Thursday, November 21, 2013



Thursday,  8:30 AM.  37 degrees F, wind SW, calm to light with a few moderate gusts.  The sky is again overcast, with a lot of haze over the Islands and the Bay.  The humidity is up to 86% and the barometer is also up, at 30.15".  The Farmer's Almanac predicts rain and wet snow for the 20th to the 23rd, and it looks like it is working up to that.
   Not wishing to delve into anything particularly serious today, I chose to let everyone know that the local off-reseration watering hole, The Gill Net Tug Bar and Airport, located on Old Highway K just west of Red Cliff in the Town of Russell, has changed its name to Cheers.
   Under its old name the establishment garnered something of a reputation for naughtiness, since    it hosted a few evenings of striptease by some imported ladies a couple of years ago. That didn't go over very well for several reasons, but I suspect primarily because the girls expected more than loose change in return for their artistic endeavors.  Friend Myron, who lives nearby, said it wasn't worth a whole dollar to watch.
   But I also suspect that the name change came about because fewer and fewer potential customers, especially tourists who might wander in out of curiosity, knew what the name meant.  For those readers who are not familiar with commercial fishing, a "gill net"is a huge fish net, and the "tug" is the boat that pulls the net.  I suppose the establishment was once a hangout for fishermen, but if so, it has long since served a more terra-firma oriented clientele.
   I never did see any airplanes land at the "airport" part of the business. Maybe they did so in the dark, although without at least some moonlight I would think the surrounding oaks and pines would be a hazard.   I could easily spin some yarn about  flying in illegal booze from Canada during prohibition or something but that would be pure speculation.   Joan and I stopped in once a few years ago with visiting friends for an afternoon beer as part of showing them the local sights.  We didn't stay long.
   I hope the new name doesn't run into any corporate trademark trouble, but if it does run afoul of such legal issues I would suspect it difficult for prosecutors or  attorneys to even find the place.  Although there might be more than one Town of Russell wife who, still peeved at the pole dancing episode, might point the way.  At any rate, as they used to announce on the old time radio shows, "only the name has been changed, to protect the innocent."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  43 degrees F, wind SW, moderate with stronger gusts.  A high overcast enshroudes the sky.  The humidity is down to 53% and the barometer is trending down, currently 29.98".  It is another dull, sunless morning, and although warm enough it is overall a rather dreary day.
   I am certain I am not alone in my frustration with the spiteful shallowness of much of what goes on in politics today, and the news media's reporting of it is petulant and shallow as well.   Humor, admittedly often equally  shallow and misguided, is the only way I can deal with much of the reality of today.  When that isn't appropriate or enough, I might turn to satire or even what I perceive as justifiable anger.  Much of the time I feel like I have reverted to the 1960's, a time of social and economic chaos that we were all glad to consign to the history books.  Perhaps such times are unavoidable, even necessary, in the uneven advancement of human progress.
   Two historical events of this week, only days apart on the calendar but one hundred years apart in history, are Lincoln's Gettysburg Address (Nov. 19, 1863), and the assassination of John F. Kennedy (Nov. 22, 1963).  No matter how bad the current situation is, it pales in comparison with either of those awful historic times, and neither humor, nor satire nor anger is appropriate in their commemoration.  The nation survived the 1860's and the 1960's.  It will  survive its present travails.  Keep the faith! 
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract.
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
-- Abraham Lincoln
Nov. 19, 1863

Tuesday, November 19, 2013




Tuesday, 7:30 AM.  Wind W, calm at present.  The sky is perfectly clear, the sun rising in the east and the nearly full moon setting in the west almost simultaneously.  The humidity has risen to 79% and the barometer is up also, to 30.33".  It is a gorgeous morning but a bit nippy.
   Ouch! I guess by now most Wisconsin readers of the Almanac will be aware that I am not a football fan, did not know that the Packers were playing in New Jersey last Sunday, and that weather in Wisconsin had nothing to do with the game time being changed.  There, I 'fessed up!  I didn't lie, period! I was just dumb.  Maybe I should run for President on the Tree Party ticket.
   Reporting on a totally unrelated local news item: Construction on  the tree house across the street seems to have been stopped by cold weather and the clock changing back to Standard Time.  So far the floor is done and one wall is up.  Tools are picked up, but materials still lie about and someone's ladder is still on the site.

Monday, November 18, 2013



Monday,  8:30 AM.  29 degrees F, wind NW, light to moderate, with strong gusts.  The sky has a high overcast, darker in the south, lighter in the north.  A trace of snow and freezing rain fell last night. The humidity has dropped to 67% with the colder temperatures and the barometer is trending up, at 29.92".  The destructive storm system that hit much of the central Midwest did not, as usual, get this far north, although it raised havoc with a  Packers football  game in Green Bay, which is about 150 miles to our southeast.  The Farmer's Almanac predicts cold temperatures and heavy snow by the 19th of November.  We will see if that is an accurate prediction for our western corner of the Great Lakes States.  
   Yesterday was my birthday, yet another milestone on life's circuitous journey.  I never  appreciated what a "milestone" actually was, until we lived in Armonk, New York, just off New York State Route 22, the colonial "King's Highway," where stone mile markers could then still occasionally be found  that stated how many miles it was from New York, or to Albany...I no longer recall  which.   A birthday is a milestone of sorts as well, measuring the time from one's birth, since we don't know the time/distance factor remaining to the end of the journey.  Which, all things considered, is probably a good thing.  I have never had any inclination to have a Gypsy read my palm.
   Anyway, it was a good birthday, quietly spent with a good dinner and a good fire and good companionship (Joan) and telephone calls from my grown children, who rather patronizingly told me how well I had done, was doing and would still in the future do, all of which I appreciate.  
   I do, however, pride myself on being a realist, and when I start to get puffed up I let the wind out of the bag with a deflating literary jab from The Old Man and The Boy, by the outdoor writer Robert Ruark.  The Old Man was feeling down and in his cups when he said to The Boy, "There's two things got no place on this earth; an old dog and an old man.  Neither serves any useful function, and both generally smell bad."  
   Well, perhaps that is a bit harsh, and maybe I can get away with characterizing myself more like the yellow apples stubbornly clinging to the tree along Old County Trunk K; which, in spite of the lateness of the season, are still "hangin' on."

Sunday, November 17, 2013






 Sunday,  9:00 AM.  44 degrees F, wind westerly, calm to very light.  The sky is cloudy and overcast and there is light fog over the Islands.  It rained a bit last night and the humidity is 96%.  The foggy  dampness muffles everything, the "zeet, zeet" of a chickadee the only sound as we stood on the porch considering our prospects for the day.
   More on my visit to the Forest Service Forest Products Laboratory on Friday: the FPL is located on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus.  It was established in 1910, its original mission being to research wood preservatives for railroad ties, which was a huge concern a century ago as railroads expanded across the nation, requiring increasingly great amounts of hardwood timber  for new construction and replacement of deteriorating ties.
  From that rather inauspicious beginning it has grown into a world-class scientific institution whose research mission is to promote healthy forests and forest based economies by developing efficient, sustainable uses for the wood resources of the nation.
  The Urban Forestry Council toured the FPL's  new Centennial Research Center, a state-of-the-art facility which is currently researching underutilized woody biomass (uses for waste wood from logging and manufacturing), nanotechnology (uses for wood fibers at the microscopic level), biobased energy, composites using wood, and wood structure technology.  Much of the research is done in  partnership with the wood products industry, with the intent of enhancing the economy of the states and the nation in the vital area of forestry.  Wisconsin's economy, and that of many of the states, is heavily dependent upon forestry and forest based businesses, and the research done at the FPL is crucial to advancing this important economic base.
   We toured three huge research areas of the new Centennial Research Center.  The enormous stress testing lab tests the strength of laminate beams and other structural wood components.  While we were there they were shooting projectiles at wood members of a home tornado shelter currently being designed by one of the 60 FPL scientists.  Chemical analysis of wood fibers was being done in the products research lab, where many separate products are being researched, most in cooperation with business corporations.  Windows, siding, shingles and other structural components and products are tested in a controlled climate chamber that can duplicate almost any weather condition.
   The attitude of many governmental agencies has been, for years now, decidedly anti-business and anti-human progress, and it is refreshing to me to see a government agency that is working with industry and has a pro-growth, sustainable use, conservation oriented philosophy and mission.

Saturday, November 16, 2013




Saturday, 9;30 AM.  45 degrees F, wind SSW, light with stronger gusts.  The sky is overcast and looks like it will stay that way today.  The humidity is 83%and the barometer is still down, at 29.55".  The Farmer's Almanac predicts cold and dry weather for the next few days, and it looks like it will miss the mark.
   The trip to Madison was long and uneventful.  We took state Hwy. 13 all the way south from Ashland to I90 in the southern part of the state and went through many small towns, which was picturesque but very slow.  Some of these little communities, like Ogema where we ate lunch, are really charming and might be a great place to live.  Anyway we got to Madison late on Friday, even missing the chance to look for a pheasant with Buddy at Marshfield because it was raining and already getting dark.
   Friday, however, was a fine warm, sunny day in Madison.  The Urban Forestry Council meeting started early and lasted the day.  A highlight was a tour of the USDA Forest Products Laboratory on the UW campus, which is celebrating its 103rd anniversary this year.  I will go into detail regarding their research initiatives tomorrow.
   The Council agenda included very interesting presentations by top officials and scientists and their topics were important enough to take up in subsequent postings.  Suffice it to say for now that the Walker Administration's efforts are finally turning the DNR battleship around, and hopefully that is the case with rest of the state bureaucracy.  It obviously takes years of concentrated effort and adherence to a plan to change entrenched government programs and policies.  Quick fixes based on ideology alone create nothing but chaos. 
   We slept late enough to erase the roadmaps from ours eyes, and now its time to do some chores. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013




Thursday,  8:00 AM.  41 degrees F, wind W changing to S, calm to light.  The sky has a high overcast with darker clouds moving in from the W beneath it.  The humidity is up, at 79%, and the barometer is down, now at 29.79%.  The Farmer's Almanac predicts unsettled weather for the next few days and that may be what we get.  The weather suddenly turned much warmer yesterday afternoon, after our taste of winter weather.   It must have been a welcome change for the crew of the Coast Guard ship the Alder.
   The harbors and channels in and around the Apostle Islands contain many navigational buoys...all with lights, some with weather and water condition analysis equipment and radio transmitters... that must be retrieved before freeze up for routine  maintenance during the winter, and then reattached to their tethers in the spring.
   The buoy tender "Alder," based in Duluth,  does this in the Chequamegon Bay and Apostle Islands region, and she was at work yesterday afternoon off the Ashland marina.  The huge bouys, painted red or green, were lifted onto the deck by the ship's crane.  She and her Coast Guard crew will return next spring with the refurbished buoys.  The Coast Guard is a constant in life on the Great Lake.
   I have an Urban Foretry Council meeting in Madison tomorrow so there will be no blog Friday.  I hope to be able to do an hour's pheasant hunting in Marshfield on the way if it doesn't get too late and the weather cooperates.   It will give Buddy and me a chance to stretch our legs, pheasants or no.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013





Wednesday,  8:30 AM.  29 degrees F, up from 21 at sunrise.  The wind is variable, shifting from NW to SW, moderate with stronger gusts. The sky is mostly clear and the humidity is down, at 73%.  The barometer is trending down, now at 30.06".
   Last evening's sunset was spectacular looking west from Sunset Valley.
   The feeders have been up less than two weeks and I will soon have to buy a 50lb. bag of sunflower seeds, as the birds are making short work of what I had left over from last winter.  In this cold snap they are consuming three cups of sunflower seeds a day, so I have to refill the two feeders every other day.  We have the usual visitors at or under the feeders thus far: white and rosy breasted nuthatches; gold finches; purple finches; several native sparrows; chickadees; juncos; blue jays, mourning doves and the occasional downy woodpecker, which won't come around much until I put out a suet block.
   Now is a good time to spot the still-green, soon-to-be-gold wild asparagus along the roadsides, for harvesting next spring.
   Gossip from the orchard country: the new owner of Torbick Farms has a lot of new horses in the pastures that used to hold buffalo.  I am told they are wild mustangs, brought from Montana.  They are quite beautiful to watch as they run free in the fields.  Hope the wolves, which I haven't heard much of recently,  don't hear of them.  There are reports of bobcats down in the valley to the west of the orchards.
   If the President should write another book, I have a suggestion for the title; "The Audacity of Arrogance."

Monday, November 11, 2013




Tuesday,  9:00 AM. 19 degrees F, wind NW, brisk at times.  the sky is mostly cloudy but clearing, the humidity is 73% and the barometer is high, at 30.71".  It was cold enough this morning to wear cotton gloves while walking Buddy.
   Sunset yesterday gave us a bank of majestic pink-purple clouds over Chequamegon Bay.  The photo was taken looking south toward Ashland from Reiten Park.
   Another green hold-out has been this little-leaf linden tree, Tilia cordata, on the corner of 6th St. and Manypenny Ave.  The species name cordata refers to the somewhat heart-shaped leaves.  It is the European linden, as in unter den linden, and its leaves still being green supports my statement in yesterday's blog about trees of European origin not having  much if any fall color. I think.  Sort of, anyway.  Don't look for its green leaves today, though, as they dropped from the tree last night.  The tree was planted too close to the stop sign and requires annual pruning of the lower branches.
   We held our final City Tree Board meeting of 2013 yesterday morning.  We found a sunny table at the Big Water Coffee Shop, and were all in a cherrie mood.  Someone suggested that we should start our own political movement and call it the Tree Party, "the party with good roots."  Then we wondered what the party's members would be called, and we came up with Nuts, Knots, Leaves and Branches.  I think it more likely we would be called  Dead Wood. Anyway, we did eventually get some serious work done on revising the City Tree Ordinance.  We won't meet in December, and our next meeting will be the fourth Monday of January, 2014.




Monday, 8:00 AM. 21 degrees F, wind NW, light with moderate gusts.  The sky is mostly blue with a few scattered clouds, except for dark clouds on the SE horizon, the retreating weather system which left us this morning's conditions.  The humidity is down to 69% and the barometer is up, at 30.38".  We had some precipitation last night which resulted in a pebbly ice surface on the driveway and some road surfaces, and a dusting of snow on roofs and lawns. The Farmer's Almanac predicted wet, then fair and cold weather the 8th through the 11th of November and that's what we have gotten.  It was chilly walking Buddy this morning but the sunshine and drier air are a good tradeoff.
   The needles suddenly fell off the two tamaracks in the yard (what we call "the yard" the British call "the garden"an all inclusive term which I like very much but is probably a bit euphemistic in most cases) over night, so I declare fall to be null and void.  It is now winter as far as I am concerned.  That said, there are still some trees and shrubs with green leaves remaining in the landscape, like the ghosts of summer past.
   One such green holdout is the common lilac, Syringia  vulgaris,  a resident of almost all yards or, if you prefer, gardens.  Lilacs can form huge clones if left to grow without interference.  They are perfectly hardy and usually long-lived.  Toward the end of the growing season the leaves often become heavily infected with powdery mildew, but although unsightly it seldom does any real harm.  In our region there can be found abandoned homesteads in the woods, the structures long since moldered away.  But the lilacs,"which once by the door-yard bloomed," often remain, mute testimony to days long gone by.
   Other  green holdouts are the old fashioned shrub roses, which also become very large with age and are nearly as hardy as the lilacs.  Most are very thorny, so there is little doubt what they are.
   Most, but not all by any means, of the green holdouts are of European origin or have a southern heritage, even though hardy.  Most Asiatic (China and Japan) trees and shrubs exhibit colorful fall leaves much as do our own.  Thus late green leaves can be a hint as to not only the origin of a woody plant, but as to whether or not it is native to the northern latitudes.  A hint, mind you...not an axiom.



Sunday, November 10, 2013




Sunday, 8:30 AM.  37 degrees F, wind W, calm.  the sky is overcast, with the sun trying to break through.  The humidity is 72% and the barometer is trending up, at 30.25". If it stays dry I may be able to get the rest of the leaves mulched this afternoon.
   Rocky Acres Berry Farm is located on Hwy. J, near its intersection with Torbick Road, in Bayfield's orchard country, just outside of town.  For many years it was run by Jack Erickson, a one-time Bayfield fisherman.
   There has always been a close connection between earning a living on the land in Bayfield and earning a living on the sea.  It used to be said that when a berry farmer had a bad year he would threaten to sell his land and buy a fishing trawler, and when a fisherman had a bad season he would threaten to sell his boat and buy a berry farm.  Jack actually did the later, and a lot of other memorable things as well (for more on Jack, use the blog search engine to find "Jack and the Eagles" and "Requim").
   Jack died a couple of years back, and I thought it might be the end to for one of Bayfield's remaining farms.  But, not to worry, Jack's daughter inherited the farm and it is prospering, old declining berry patches being replaced with more productive plants, and all looking prosperous. The new owners retrieved The Donna Belle and retired it to Jack's Rocky Acres, where it is a suitable memorial to the hardy Bayfield folks who have toughed it out, on the land and on the big lake.

Saturday, November 9, 2013



Saturday,  9:00 AM.  38 degrees, wind WSW, light with stronger gusts.  the sky is overcast, the humidity is 89%, and things are wet from a bit of rain last night.  The barometer is trending down, at 29.66".  It looks like we are in for some unsettled weather.
   The Norway maple, Acer platanoides, as its name implies,  is of European origin.  It is easy to transplant and tolerates many soil conditions and types so it has been much used as a yard and street tree in this country.  It is invasive in many urban areas, such as New York's Central Park.  It's species name implies that its leaf is similar to that of the plane tree. It can be confused with our native sugar maple, but it is a shorter, more compact tree, without the spectacular fall color of our native maples.  It can have a good yellow fall color, but more commonly stays green late and then turns brown. It has many shallow surface roots and it is difficult to grow grass or other plants in close proximity to it.  In general it is over-used and has little to recommend it, and it is much more prone to fungal tar spot than other maples.
   Some  Norway maple seedlings have a tendency to have green-purple leaves, and there have been a number of cultivars with purplish leaves introduced over the years, the oldest being the Schwedler maple.  A selection of the Schwedler, the Crimson King maple, was introduced in 1946 and was instantly popular.  It has true red-purple leaves all summer long.  You can almost identify post-war tract homes, as most have a Crimson King maple in the front yard.  They have been called an  "exclamation point in the landscape," but unless there is a specific reason to plant it, there are much better tree choices.  One of its short comings is that it has no real fall color, but  turns from purple to a dingy brown literally overnight, when it becomes rather negatively prominent in the landscape.
   Since the Almanac purports to be at least a somewhat scientific journal, I present the following graphic commentary on evolution, compounded from several sources:



Friday, November 8, 2013






Friday,  8:00 AM.  31 degrees F, wind W, calm to light.  The sky is clear and it is a sunny morning for a change.  The humidity is down to 75% and the barometer is steady at 30.19".  The local weather forecast calls for rain and possible snow this afternoon into tomorrow, but there is no sign of it as yet.  I had best get some hard work done this morning.
   One of the things I find most interesting about fall leaf colors is that they can help identify trees and shrubs that at other seasons blend in with surrounding vegetation and are rather anonymous, at least to the non-expert, casual observer.  I have mentioned the distinguishing fall colors of many trees and shrubs in recent blogs.  Different species of trees and shrubs often exhibit their coloration, or loose their leaves, at different times, helping them to stand out and be recognized.
   A case in point are the native hazel shrubs, the one pictured here being the beaked hazelnut, Corylus cornuta, which still retains its  rusty yellow-greeen leaves after many other species have lost theirs.  The other hazel species native to Wisconsin is the American hazelnut, Corylus americana, quite similar in leaf characteristics except that the fall color can turn to shades of red and purple.   If I can find a good fall leaf color photo of it I will post it.
   The fruits of the two hazel species (nuts in a distinctive husk) are very different from each other, as evidenced by the above photos.  The genus Corylus is in the birch family, the Betulaceae.  I have written about hazelnuts in previous blogs, and that information can be recalled by using the blog search engine.
   I see that two small communities in the State of Washington  each elected dead men as their mayors in   Tuesday's election.  The excuse that has been given for these events is that in each case the candidates died after the ballots had been printed.  But since the dead candidates out-polled living write-in candidates, I wonder if the reason they were elected is that the voters felt that  a dead politician would be preferable in office to a live one.