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Tuesday, January 31, 2017


Tuesday, 9:00 AM.  25 degrees F at the ferry dock, 24 on the back porch.  Wind W, mostly calm with light to moderate gusts.  The sky is again overcast and cloudy, the humidity 86%,  after several inches of snow fell last night.  The barometer is rising, now at 29.68".  The forecast calls for more of the same weather for the week ahead, with overcast skies, chances of snow flurries and temperatures in the teens and twenties.
   I was informed yesterday that a Go Fund Me site has been established in memory of Jay Cablk, owner of Jay's Tree Care, who tragically died in a terrible accident on the job a week ago. A number of Almanac readers have already contributed directly to Jay's final expenses.  For those who have not and may still wish to do so, please use the Go Fund Me account.  A friend of Jay and Carrie, Cheryl Hanson, wrote the following:

We are all struggling to offer support to Jay's wife Carrie and son Sam.  Now we can each in our own way offer much needed financial support.   Just as Jay touched each of us with his spirit we can impact his family by our donations.
Jay lost his life doing work he loved Monday morning, January 23, 2017.  He was an incredible man who had a generous and kind heart.   

   Jay moved to the Chequamegon Bay area in 1993 to attend Northland College. He was very active in many outdoor activities including whitewater paddling, camping, hiking. This is where he met his life partner and soul mate, Carrie Linder.
Jay was born in Munising, Mich., the son of Martha and Robert Cablk. Always a smile on his face, Jay's childhood friends called him “Smiley.” It was growing up in the wilds of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with his parents and only brother Lance where he learned many of the skills and abilities that made him the man he came to be. Whether it was paddling to and off the edge of a waterfall, scrambling along a trail, diving into a cold body of water or debating a topic that was so very important to him, Jay lived exploring the edge in all aspects of life.
   Jay started his business, Jay's Tree Care, after attending college. He was an amazing climber; to watch Jay moving from branch to branch in the tree canopy was a sight to behold. His regard for trees was apparent as he would often encourage people to save and care for their tree rather than just cut it down. Jay was a proud member of the Mason Area Ambulance Service, where he served his community as an EMT for over 16 years.
   Jay and Carrie lived outside of Ashland in a home they built together along with friends and family. They lived close with the land, growing produce, tending sheep and chickens and enjoying the space and freedom of the place they called home. His son, Samuel Jay, was born in 2010 and was the light of his life.
He is survived by his wife, only son, parents, brother, nephew Eli and many aunts, uncles and cousins. To know Jay was a gift; he will be missed by many.
   A celebration of life was held at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, at the Bayfield Pavilion. Over 500 friends attended.
   Cheryl Hanson, friend

Monday, January 30, 2017




Monday, 8:30 AM.  14 degrees F at the ferry dock, 13 on the back porch.  Wind SW, with light to moderate gusts.  The sky is mostly cloudy, the humidity 71%. The barometer is falling, now at 29.83".  The forecast calls for snow showers later today and tomorrow, with colder temperatures and cloudy skies.
   The trip to Milwaukee was uneventful, and the weather is pretty much the same all over the state; very cool to cold, and cloudy with snow on the ground except in the Milwaukee environment.
   The 70th wedding anniversary of my cousin Ellen and her husband Arnold was a very nice event, attended by about 90 people. Their children, grand children and great grandchildren and families made up a significant portion of the crowd. They are both doing well for being in their 90's.  Old photographs shown with music of the times made for a memorable and endearing presentation by their children.  Together 70 years!
   Coming home through Ashland we saw that the ice race track on the lower bay has been plowed and set up, and some cars were trying it out before the races actually begin, probably next weekend.
   Buddy had a nice stay with friend Dan but was happy to be home again.

GO FUND ME link to donate toward Jay Cablk's final expenses:

Friday, January 27, 2017



Friday, 8:15 AM.  23 degrees F at the ferry dock, 22 on the back porch.  There is a fairly steady light to moderate breeze from the SW.  The sky is overcast to partly cloudy, and it may turn sunny as it did yesterday. The humidity is 80%, the barometer steady for now at 29.81".  Predictions are for overcast skiesand temperatures in the teens and twenties for the week ahead, with snow predicted on Monday and Tuesday.
   We are heading to Milwaukee today to attend a family 70th wedding anniversary, a rare event indeed. There will be no further posts over the weekend.
   Open water is everywhere now in the island channels and the streams.  The Sioux River, Pike's Creek, the Fish River in Ashland, all are running free.  The lower Chequamegon Bay is still mostly ice covered but it all appears unsafe, although there are still a few fishermen out there.
   This may be a year without an ice road.

Thursday, January 26, 2017



Thursday, 8:30 AM.  31 degrees F at the ferry dock, 28 on the back porch.  Wind NNW, calm with light gusts.  The sky is cloudy and overcast, the humidity 75%.  The barometer is steady, at 29.83", predicting mostly the same weather but cooler, in the twenties, in the week ahead.
   We went to visit Jay's widow Carrie yesterday and be as comforting as we could under the tragic circumstances (my good friend and business associate Jay Cablk was killed by a falling cottonwood tree his crew was cutting down on Monday afternoon).
   I could not resist visiting the sight of the accident, in the little community of Highbridge, about 25 miles south of Ashland on State Hwy. 13.  It was a chilling sight, and very easy to for me to reconstruct the accident in my mind while looking at the stump and shattered trunk of the huge cottonwood that took his life.
   By all accounts, an employee was cutting down the tree and got the chain saw stuck while the partially cut trunk was still standing.  When Jay reached in front of the tree to retrieve the saw the tree suddenly fell, twisting as it did so, crushing him to death.  It was a vision that I hope I can keep from reoccurring. 
   There are a few details I should yet like to know, such as how the trunk, that must have weighed twenty tons and was perhaps eighty feet tall, was removed from his body; or did rescuers have to dig his body out from under the trunk.  Or perhaps it bounced upward after killing him and he was not actually pinned at all.
   Today there was a large backhoe working right in the area doing cleanup work.  Why wasn't it used to push the tree over rather than saw it down using a chain saw?  That would have been the safe thing to do, even if the tree had to have been cut partially through, and to hell with a stuck chain saw worth a few hundred bucks.  
   It appears that there was a grove of these huge cottonwoods (they grow larger than oaks and maples) at the site, which was easily accessible to machinery.  What kind of decision was made here, and by whom?
   I would like to know how long it took EMT's to reach the scene, although that is really immaterial, as Jay died instantly.
   But enough of Monday morning quarterbacking. A good man is dead,  a young woman bereaved and a young child left fatherless.  Arborist work is physically and mentally challenging and deadly dangerous.  There can be no distractions on the job, no unnecessary conversations or fooling around, no lack of training or discipline.
   The memorial service has been set for 1:00 PM Saturday at the Bayfield Pavilion.  Unfortunately we need to be in Milwaukee for a family 70th wedding anniversary, but will be in Bayfield in spirit.
   I pray to God we  never have to experience an accident like this again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017



Wednesday, 8:00 AM.  30 degrees F at the ferry dock, 28 on the back porch.  Wind NW, with moderate to strong gusts.  The sky has a low overcast, the humidity is 89%.  The barometer is at 29.81" and falling gently.  We got a light dusting of snow last night and the forecast is for somewhat cooler temperatures and continuing overcast skies, with occasional snow flurries. 
   The phone was beeping to let us know that it had a message when we returned from Duluth yesterday.  I had a hard time processing what I heard.
   Jay Cablck, owner of Jay's Tree Care and a good friend and close associate for going on two decades, was killed on the job Monday afternoon.   A large cottonwood tree was being felled by his crew, the chain saw became pinched and stuck, and when Jay attempted to retrieve it the partly cut tree trunk spun, fell and crushed him to death.
   Jay was very safety conscious, but arborist work is extremely dangerous.  I was not there, and probably wouldn't have been able to stop the accident if I had been.  Monday morning quarterbacking is not appropriate at this time or perhaps at any time.  If I had been there it might have been my time to go as well.
   Jay was a true environmentalist, concerned about many issues, but particularly about caring for individual trees.  He did most of Bayfield's tree planting and care work.  We worked together on many private jobs as well and I don't know if I can do any more work without him.  He was a man of action, not words. He leaves a wife and seven year old son.  At present a memorial service is scheduled to be held this Saturday at the Bayfield pavilion.
  As is true of so many in the profession, Jay could not buy life insurance because of the dangerous nature of the work.  Almanac readers wishing to assist Jay's family may do so by sending a check or money order to Jay's wife Carrie:
   Carrie Cablck
   Jay's Tree Care
   63700 Vranes Rd.
   Ashland, Wisconsin 54806

   I am having a difficult time processing the tragedy, and in fact feel more numb than anything else.  I makes me wonder why I am still around at 80 and my good friend and associate is gone at half my age.
    I suspect I will have more sleepless nights.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017



Tuesday, 8:00 AM.  34 degrees F at the ferry dock, 32 on the back porch.  Wind WNW, mostly calm with light gusts.  The sky is again overcast, the humidity lower, at 87%.  The barometer is fairly steady at 29.91", predicting basically  more of the same weather, but  with cooler temperatures bringing snow showers tomorrow and Wednesday.
   We travel to Duluth today to have the staples removed from my shoulder.  I keep having this vision of my arm falling off, but have been assured that is unlikely to happen.
   By the time most Almanac readers see this, Rex Tillerson will likely have been confirmed as Secretary of State.  He has been a contentious candidate because of his business ties to Russia as CEO of Exon-Mobile Oil.  A lot of the fears have been irrational or politically motivated, and their essence has been a distrust of Russia and a lack of appreciation for how better ties with that country might benefit the US.
   I can give some small degree of insight into relations with Russia since I played a very small role in a very large cooperative science program with the old Soviet Union back in the late 1970's.  I certainly learned a lot, at least on a personal level, and the Russian scientists I dealt with probably felt the same way.
   My role was as host to the visiting scientists and I spent weeks on two different occasions shepherding them around the US collecting plant specimens for the Herbarium of the Main Moscow Botanical Garden.  I brought them home to spend time with my typical American family, and to spend time as guests in numerous American homes where they were treated to dinners and other social events.  I and my family had a great experience, and I know the Soviets did as well.
   We spent time together hiking through the forests and mountains of New England and the Pacific Northwest, collecting seeds and processing plants as herbarium specimens.  We worked together well, despite limited language abilities.  They were disciplined, well trained,  enthusiastic and friendly.  I won't go into the personal stuff any further than than that, but I can tell you from my limited perspective some of the scientific cooperation that might be useful to both countries:
  • Plant and animal sciences, particularly as regards related species in like genera as they occur over three continents.
  • Plant and animal breeding for adaptation to northern climates, particularly in the light of continued warming of the Northern Hemisphere, whether related to man's activities or not.  Russia has done amazing research and development of new agricultural and horticultural plants.  Their genetics has sometimes been flawed, but their practical work has been very advanced.
  • Both countries would benefit, as would Canada, from joint studies in reclaiming thawing tundra for agricultural and forestry use.
  • Studies of developing passages through the Arctic ice for commercial vessels (such as exists at times along the northern coasts of Greenland, Canada and Alaska); the Northwest Passage sought for centuries past.
  • Antarctic exploration.
  • Space science and exploration.  We have done much together to this point and could do much more.  We have trusted them to transport our astronauts to the Space Station for years (stupid and short sighted on our part perhaps, but they have carried out their part of the deal).
  • Oil, gas and mineral exploration and extraction in the Arctic.  Russia takes the Arctic very seriously.  We have only one heavy duty ice breaker, they have many.
  • Nuclear weapons non-proliferation and safety.  We have continuing co-operation in this crucial area, and for the sake of both nations and the  entire world it must continue.
  • Physics and mathematics.  The Russians produce truly outstanding scientific theorists. Working together we could advance these sciences exponentially.
   I would rather be cautiously optimistic about our future relations with Russia than overly pessimistic. The Russians are pragmatists, and if watched carefully will fulfill their side of a bargain (Reagan's "trust but verify").  If I were a geopolitical strategist I would think of US-Russian cooperation as being a balance against the growing economic and military threat of China.  I bet the Russians are getting as nervous as we are.
   One last thought; adversaries do not need to be enemies.  

Monday, January 23, 2017


Monday, 9:00 AM.  34 degrees F at the ferry dock,  31 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm, the humidity 96%, the sky overcast.  The barometer is steady at 29.81",  predicting more of the same for the week ahead, with the possibility of snow on Wednesday.  My Second Cousin Gary called me from Seattle yesterday.  They are a little warmer there but otherwise the weather is almost the same.
   Awake early this morning, I caught the light of the first ferry from LaPointe on Madeline Island, crunching its way through the ice cubes to Bayfield.  If I hadn't known it was overcast I might have thought it the morning star.

Sunday, January 22, 2017



Sunday, 8:30 AM.  35 degrees F at the ferry dock, 32 on the back porch.  Wind variable, with light to moderate gusts.  The sky is again cloudy and overcast, with considerable fog, the humidity 96%.  The barometer is rising slowly, currently at 29.68".  We are pretty much in a holding pattern; rainy, overcast, foggy, with slightly declining temperatures.
   I should lay low regarding the women's march on Washington and elsewhere, but I am honestly mystified by much of what has been reported, and need some answers.  So, this turkey will stick its head out of the cage and probably get it shot off.
   First, Joan has been no help at all, claiming to be as mystified as I am.  It wouldn't be the first time she lied to me.
   Second, to my daughters, who may or may not have marched anywhere, and whom owe me a phone call anyway:  help me out here in terms even I can understand.
   I am mystified by the lack of specificity in the demands, or better put, in the multiplicity of demands, many of them in conflict with each other, which makes it difficult to acquiesce to any of them, even if one wished to do so.
   "What do we want?"
   "When do we want it?"
See what I mean?
   And then there are the obvious contradictions, such as the women who profess to love their children... except those they wish to kill.  Oh well, we live in a pick and chose society.  Not that I am necessarily or  irretrievably against Roe V Wade which is, as they say, settled law, but I see no difference whatsoever between late term abortions and infanticide, which is murder.  And pro life women were not allowed to join the women's march.  Go figure.
   Another contradiction is what language a man may use and what language a woman may use. President Trump was tricked into using foul and abusive language many years ago that was captured on tape and then dragged out later to discredit him.  Gee, I am glad no one ever (I hope) taped obscene things I may have said years ago, or any man for that matter.  Not that women are any more discrete in private than are men. And those who say they are, are naive at best, as revealed by the conversations I secretly taped of a bachelorette party some years ago.  I am sure I still  have them around somewhere.
    "#$%*, you @#$%*!,   stop using such  @#$%*  foul language!"
Maybe we should all clean up our acts.
   Which brings me to another point:  Madonna and her compatriots are nothing but sexual predators, enticing others to do obscene things through their performances, on stage and off.  Old fashioned  strip joint fare was pretty mild by comparison.  They want  men, and even some women to watch,  and be mortally tempted, but not fact, you dare not even talk about touching! Anything at all for a buck, no better than prostitutes, who of course need understanding and equal pay.
   One more thing.  Women could stop all violence if they were unified enough to deny men sex for a week, maybe two.  Wars across the globe would cease, peace prevail...the oceans might even cease to rise.
    Women, however, are evidently  incapable of achieving solidarity in that matter, so little is likely to ever change.

Saturday, January 21, 2017


Saturday, 8:30 AM.  35 degrees F at the ferry dock, 31 on the back porch. The sky is overcast, the  wind variable and calm,  the humidity 93%.  The barometer stands at 29.75".  We may get rain later today and this evening, with a mix of weather and temperatures around 30 degrees or higher later in the week ahead.  Some sunshine would be welcome.
   Still recuperating from our respective operations, Joan and I spent much of yesterday watching the inauguration drama.  The new president promised that the transition of power would  not be from one administration or party to another, but from the government back to the people.  That was what the revolution was all about, and why so many politicians hate Donald Trump.
   God was invoked without fear of criticism, and Jesus' name was said without a snicker.  I think it's safe to say that political correctness in this country has taken a mortal hit, although it will still go through its death throes. 
   At last we have someone in charge who will speak the plain truth and not hide behind lawyerly phraseology and parsed words.  President Trump's inaugural speech was short, and abbreviated to bullet points almost as deadly as their namesake. It may be trite to say, but it's true; there's a new sheriff in town.
   I don't know about you, but I could not care less that Hollywood  didn't show up for the party.  They proved how inconsequential they really are, as did the Democrat congressmen who stayed away.  Neither were missed, but they sure missed a good time. It must feel like, as if you didn't go to the barn dance because you thought it would be too hokey, but then didn't have anything else to do on Saturday night.
   If Leftists stayed away, Middle America sure showed up.  High school marching bands and farm tractors instead of rocket launchers and tanks in the inaugural parade say more about America than anything else.  A lot of folks will make light of much of what was prosaic about the inauguration, but at heart that's what we loved.  Speak softly but ride a giant farm tractor.
   And what about the Anarchists and thugs who shouted obscenities, threw rocks and burned a couple of cop cars?
   They'd best get out of Dodge before sundown.

Friday, January 20, 2017



Friday, 8:30 AM.  33 degrees F at the ferry dock, 32 on the back porch.  The wind is variable and calm, the humidity 92%.  The sky is cloudy and overcast, the barometer continuing its leisurely decline, now at 29.74".  The forecast calls for rain later today and continuing into the weekend, with temperatures in the 30's, then becoming cooler with a wintry mix of weather thereafter.
   Things seem to come in bunches.  We reported on the status of the Bayfield urban forest on Wednesday, and I will report today on the status of America's forests as presented in the US Forestry Report, which has been accomplished every ten years since 1930.  Along with my own knowledge and interpretations, the following includes my summary of an article which appeared in the January 14-15 Wall Street Journal.
   Traditional forestry is basically a statistical science, or at least mathematical measurements and statistics have been essential to it for well over a century (which is probably why I never became a traditional forester).  Forest mensuration, the measuring of the quantities, qualities and monetary value of forests, has been practiced in America for well over a century, and in Europe well before that.  Wood is an economic substance, bought, sold and traded worldwide, and values must be precisely measured.  That process is tedious, hands on field work, done by professionally trained foresters. 
   The mathematics and statics of traditional forestry have evolved, and beginning in 1930, the Forest Service began to assess the nation's forest as a whole, using field sample plots.  Plots 6,000 acres in size have been established covering  each  of the 50 states. Of these 326,000 plots, about one-third are considered forested.   To accommodate  the curvature of the earth these plots are hexogonal in shape (think of a soccer ball cover). Within each of the large forested plots small  sub-plots have been established, and over the last century randomly selected live trees over five inches in DBH (diameter at breast height) have been identified and have been re-assessed every ten years for growth, health and mortality. Seedlings within sample sub-plots are counted but not further assessed.  Forests of the nations territories are also assessed, but in an abbreviated fashion.
   Obviously this is a complicated undertaking,  the surveying budget for  2016 being 75 million dollars.  It involves foresters visiting each forested sample sub-plot once every ten years, assisted now by GPS locating and aerial photography.
   Is it worth it?  It gives the country and its forestry products industries, which exported 8.7B dollars of wood products in 2016, a graphical view of forest health, composition and sustainability. It establishes benchmarks and goals for the Forest Service and society.  Where are we now?  96.6 billion trees 5" in DBH and larger comprise the nation's forests.
   Forest composition changes over time, but we have roughly the same forest cover today as we did a century ago, and the forest resource has proved sustainable.
   We can see the forest for the trees.

Thursday, January 19, 2017



Thursday, 8:15 AM.   31 degrees F  both at the ferry dock and on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm.  The sky is overcast, the channel foggy, the roads slippery;  I heard a lot of ice breaking before first light, either ferries, fishing tugs or both, although I am pretty sure fishing boats are done for the winter.  The humidity is 93%, the barometer falling, now at 29.83".  The forecast is for similar weather into next week, the  temperatures plus or minus 30 degrees, with rain and snow showers.
   I thought "deplorable"  and "irredeemable" were the worst I could be called, but now, since President Elect Trump is being called illegitimate by everyone on the Left, I guess that makes those of us who voted for him illegitimate as well.
   Dad would have smiled wearily and shrugged it off.  Mom would have punched someone out.
   Fake News circulated by the Russians is certainly a serious issue these days. I have heard that Peyton Manning, retired  football quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, is having a sex change operation.  Or is that Chelsea Manning, the feminine rendition of the traitor Bradley Manning?
   Gotta check this one out.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017



Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  29 degrees F the ferry dock, 27 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm . The sky is mostly clear, the humidity 84%.  The barometer is steady for now.  Temperatures should remain in the 30's to 40's range through the weekend, with increasing cloudiness and chances of rain showers, after which we may see a cooling trend and snow showers.
   A number of Bayfield residents are readers of The Almanac, so I think it appropriate to post the following Tree Board Report.  Additionally, it is good urban forestry information for the general reader.
JANUARY 17, 2017

The City of Bayfield traditionally makes an annual report to the Mayor and Council.  This will serve both as a summary report of current conditions and as a recommendation for future actions and policies.
   The citizen Tree Board is currently low on active members, and the Volunteer City Forester of some years is retiring from duty, so the present provides a good opportunity for change and revitalization. 
   The Tree Board has been hands-on, performing not only a policy and guidance function but assisting with planting trees and performing training pruning of young trees and similar activities. 
   Board members do not need to be technically trained but must be active, attend meetings regularly and be motivated by civic duty and a love of trees and the local environment. 
   The  Forester should have or be willing to acquire some basic technical forestry skills.  There are ample inexpensive opportunities provided by the Wisconsin DNR and the US Forest Service for training and networking for the Board and Forester, as well as interested city employees.
   The City of Bayfield street and park trees are in good shape from a health and diversity standpoint, and were last professionally evaluated in a report done by Bluestem Forestry in November, 2011, but a follow up professional report should be done soon.
   In general, the city has kept up with replacing, pruning and monitoring city owned trees removed due to disease, accident or age  (trees within 30’ of a standard street center-line) . Our tree population is diverse and beautiful.
   Our current tree planting policy counts on individual homeowners requesting either a shade or ornamental tree for the boulevard in front of their property.  Requests are routinely granted for spring planting, and trees are seldom planted where they interfere with views or are otherwise not wanted.
   The Tree Board and Forester monitor for insect, disease and safety problems (including Emerald Ash Borer) along with directions and requests from the City Public Works Director. 
   The Tree Board plants an Arbor Day Tree and conducts a ceremony and school program annually.  It also maintains a spot on the city web site.
   The Tree Board has been very successful in obtaining matching grants for tree inventories and planting, and it is considered a leader in this regard by WDNR and the US Forest Service.
   In addition to continuing the current activities of the Tree Board, which serve the city well, we recommend the city consider the following:
·     . Apply for matching grants for an updated Urban Forestry Plan and Tree Inventory. 
·      .Consider appointing a current or future city employee as Forester.  It does not have to be a full time position, but would require some extra compensation and training for an interested person.  Most cities, no matter how small, employ a city forester.  This would improve computerized record keeping and ongoing tree maintenance.  It would also ensure optimum coordination with contractors and nurseries.
·       .Bayfield needs to consider the entire city as its urban forest, including trees on private property.  Urban forestry is now seen as being akin in many ways to traditional forestry.  As unlikely as this may seem, it is the way the state and federal government now look at the urban forest, and that mindset will be the key to many major grant opportunities. 
   Bayfield has few publicly owned ash trees, but the ash population on private property is unknown, and a voluntary census would start the community thinking about a public-private urban forest.
·       . Grant funds for city forestry will increasingly be tied to partnerships with  other cities and communities, as well as with community nonprofit groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and The Bayfield Regional Conservancy.
Bayfield was lead agency for a major cooperative tree planting grant several years ago that included Bayfield, Red Cliff, Washburn and Ashland, and it can be so again. 
·       The city ravine conservancy areas function as originally intended but are an ongoing maintenance and public relations problem.  Citizens complain about their esthetic appearance and interference with prime lake views; conversely, they also present a major potential for grant funding. 
   The city should take full responsibility for these areas and seek grants and other funding for a full study that leads to updated ordinances and problem solving for these neglected resources.
·      .Thinking in the very broadest terms, it might be wise to investigate the establishment of a non-profit entity for the long range funding of the City of Bayfield Urban Forest.
   The City of Bayfield Tree Board has functioned well for many years and it has received many major grants and updated and modernized the city tree ordinances and inventory.  The city street and park tree population is diverse and healthy.  The Tree Board is now at a junction where its membership needs to be rejuvenated and the volunteer forester replaced.  It is hoped that both will be done well and quickly.
    It recommends that a city employee be designated, trained and compensated as the Forester. 
    It is time to think about city trees in broader terms than in the past.
    Properly staffed and led, the City of Bayfield Urban Forestry program should be on track to sustain itself through grant funding and other non-tax revenue.

Art Ode, Volunteer City Forester

Tuesday, January 17, 2017




Tuesday, 8:00 AM.  29 degrees F at the ferry dock, 27 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm, the sky mostly clear, but with heavy fog engulfing the channel.  The humidity is  93%.  The barometer is on a long free-fall from it's current 29.96" of mercury, predicting mixed skies and warmer temperatures in the 30's and 40's, with a chance of rain showers as the weekend draws near.
    Excel Energy's Ashland Bayfront Generating Station uses multiple sources of fuel for power, including huge amounts of wood sawdust mixed with powdered coal.  The sawdust comes from area companies that make doors, window frames, strand board and other manufactured wood products, important local businesses dependent on the forests of the region.  It can also burn logging debris, old railroad ties and tires.  It recently underwent extensive retrofitting to meet all current air quality standards.  The plant accepts waste from facilities within a 75 mile radius, at current trucking costs.
   Without this unique facility an enormous amount of sawdust  that currently produces income would go to landfills, at great expense and waste of natural resources.  The coal is shipped to Ashland by huge lake cargo boats.
   I gauge the health of the regional wood products industry in part by watching the constant delivery of sawdust by tractor trailer trucks, and the size of the sawdust pile.  By my observations, at least, the wood products industry is booming.
   This power plant is an important part of the local economy and represents an intelligent use of natural resources and economic opportunities.  Rather than taking it off-line because it used coal as a fuel, it was years ago converted to using mainly a waste product, sawdust. 
   This plant should serve as a model for the industry, not only  in the conservation of natural resources, but in thinking outside the box to extend the life and usefulness of facilities that are enormously expensive to build and difficult to amortize.
   Our society too often goes to extremes in how it interprets science and technology, and uses ideology and dogma to make political and economic decisions, instead of facts and common sense.
    This plant is truly generating electricity from common sense.

Monday, January 16, 2017


Monday, 10:00 AM.  21 degrees F at the ferry dock, the same on the back porch.  Sky mostly clear, the sunshine bright.Wind variable and calm, humidity 84%.  The barometer is still falling slowly, now at 30.01". The forecast calls for a mild wintry mix of weather for the next week, with temperatures around freezing. I think this is our January thaw.
   The ferries continue to run but the ice buildup is considerable and the first ferries of the day, at least, go in tandem, a larger boat breaking the ice.  Continued traffic keeps the path from freezing solid during the day.
   Reminds me of that old jingle advertisement for Doublemint Gum, "Double your pleasure, double your fun." Madison Avenue lives on in my memory, unfortunately.

Sunday, January 15, 2017


Sunday, 9:00 AM.  8 degrees F at the ferry dock, 6 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm with some occasional light gusts.  The sky is mostly clear, the humidity 82%.  The barometer is falling gently, currently at 39.36", predicting partly cloudy skies and warming temperatures, with a possibility of rain or ice showers by the weekend.  This might be our January thaw.
   Buddy is evidently satisfied to be back at home and in his normal routine, although it is hard to know what, if anything, is actually going on inside a dog's mind.  Buddy needs to run, and maybe we can drive to the beach and let him do so, with the anticipation that he will behave himself and return posthaste to my whistle. 
   The big chore for today will be taking care of the birds as well as Buddy; we pretty much wiped ourselves out yesterday going to the drugstore for prescriptions and stopping at the IGA, and will skip church today and try to catch up on our rest.
   Without  my wheel spinner I would really be spinning my wheels.

Friday, January 13, 2017


Saturday, 8:27 AM.  Ten degrees F at the ferry dock, 8 on the back porch.  Wind SW, calm with occasional light gusts. The sky is clear, the humidity down to 69%.  The barometer stands at 30.53" and is falling slowly, the predictions changed from snow to something less for Tuesday, with temperatures around 30 thereafter.
   Today will be very busy; first order of business will be Buddy returning from his vacation.  We hope he had a good time, but not so good that he wants to stay at friend Dan's in Washburn, where he has undoubtedly been living the Life of Riley, with no chores to do or schedule to maintain.
   Then there will be recycles and garbage to take to the BRB, with Dan's help.  And the house to clean, with Deb's help. And the mail to pick up and sort through.   How many folks does it take to keep these two old (you name it) going? A whole lot right now, I am afraid.  Sure hope we straighten out and fly right before long.
  Speaking of which: with nothing else to do waiting for the surgeon on Wednesday morning we watched the Senate confirmation hearings for Sec. of State nominee Rex Tillerson.  One would have thought it a lengthy proceeding  to honor the senators instead. 
   Senator Claghorn, a Republican, spoke long enough to put one to sleep, then came Senator Foghorn, a Democrat, both evidently seeking  the nomination for President some day. I and me were the operative pronouns. Eventually Republican Senator Rubio, obviously not ever wishing to be President, did his best to sabotage the nominee, who managed to keep awake and composed during the entire nine hour ordeal.


Friday, 11:30 AM.  -2 degrees at the ferry dock,  about the same  on the back porch.  Wind SW, mostly calm with light to moderate gusts.  The sky is mostly clear, the humidity 81%, the barometer 30.91" and falling slowly, predicting snow and ice pellets by Monday and Tuesday, with much warmer temperatures thereafter, into to the forties.  A January thaw would be welcome indeed.
   We got back from Duluth yesterday about noon  after a one-night stay in the hospital for shoulder surgery.  Seems OK, time will tell.  Roads were not good going but were fine returning; couldn't do any of this without Joan, who is herself recovering from carpel tunnel surgery on both hands.
   I will try to leave out most of the personal stuff from future posts, but have got to give a "shout out" to Stephen,  my 24 hour roommate in a very small hospital room, for his company and concern; it rendered a less than pleasant experience more than tolerable, which is what all of us should always try to do for everyone else.
   I am afraid Almanac posts will be mostly dulls-ville for a couple of weeks, mainly about weather and so on, and perhaps some bird information, in my posts.  Read it if you wish, take a break if you want.
   We have about 18" of snow on the ground in the back yard, probably more in the woods, about normal for this time of year, but bound to be a lot deeper at some point.  The squirrels are very active, but one of the bird feeders is empty and needs to be refilled... tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  25 degrees F at the ferry dock, 23 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm, humidity 88%.  The sky is overcast and there is some fog.  Snow showers are expected later. The barometer is still declining, now at 29.50".  The balance of the week is predicted to be partly sunny and somewhat colder before warming up again.  It's the same old same old.
   We got back back from Milwaukee about 6:30 PM yesterday, road weary but pleased with our trip and visits, and with Joan recovering from her carpel tunnel operation very well.  Now it will be my turn, so there will be no further posts for a few days and upon my return I will be typing one handed, hunt and peck method, while my left arm is in a sling (or I guess I could say "while it's slung").
   All I can say about the trip is that it's winter throughout Wisconsin, pretty bleak and snow covered, except in Milwaukee, where the grass is evident, if not greener. The Wisconsin River is mostly frozen where it snakes several times under I39, except one spot where there is a paper mill upstream and the water is warmer.  We did see some turkeys north of Madison on I39, catching a bit of fleeting sunshine on a south facing hill,  but little else was moving except crows and a few hawks.
   My big entertainment, besides watching the Packers trounce New York, was a few minutes of bird watching at Joan's sister Marlene's feeder, where I sat for a few moments in the truck and saw a goshawk (I think I am correct) swoop in and pluck a hapless starling from the porch railing, far too quickly for me to photograph the brief drama.  We won't waste time mourning the starling's demise.  
   Immediately thereafter,  the hawk in the photo arrived and perched in an oriental pear tree, but the birds were frightened off and I got tired of waiting for the second hawk to catch its dinner.

Friday, January 6, 2017


Saturday, posted Friday evening.
   We are leaving for Milwaukee early, where Joan will attend Niece Emily's baby shower on Sunday.  Joan is recovering from carpel tunnel surgery on both hands and it may be a challenging trip, but she does not want to miss being with her family.
   Buddy is on vacation at a friends home in Washburn, and we hope he will actually want to come back home after he gets spoiled for a week (I have shoulder replacement on my injured left arm on Wednesday).  This getting older business is getting complicated, but we will press on.
The Chicago "Hate Crime" 
   As regards the four Chicago black young people accused of hate crimes in the bizarre torture of a mentally deficient young white man posted on Facebook (you can't make something like this up):  if convicted as charged they would spend the rest of their lives in jail.
   Here is a case of a mentally deficient victim, and four equally mentally deficient defendants that are accused of an  absurd "hate crime."
   A jury of the defendants' peers in this case would by definition be of equal mental deficiency.  I don't know about a judge, but the society which spawned these idiots is obviously of questionable mental ability as well. 
   The whole sorry incident is like looking in a fun house mirror and recognizing oneself as a familiar figure, but grossly distorted. 
   Drugs, mental illness, gangs, death cults posing as religions, total amorality... these are misshapen  mirrors that produce a carnival reflection of the greater society.  If society does not break the fun house mirrors, there can be no end to these absurdities.
   If convicted, the defendants will spend decades in prison at taxpayer expense.  I propose all involved, perpetrators and so-called victim, be turned out on the streets of Chicago, where they will not last until next summer.  Case closed.



BAD DUDES (Google Image)

Friday, 9:30 AM.  -2 degrees F at the ferry dock, -1 on the back porch.  Wind SW, mostly calm with light to moderate gusts.  The sky is overcast and foggy, with the sun trying to shine through the gloom.  The humidity is 84% and the barometer is rising slowly, currently at 30.25".  We have had an accumulation of about 6" of new snow over the last several days.  The forecast is for more of the same weather we have been having.  Yuck!  Yesterday we saw a pickup truck far out on the ice of the Bay off Ashland.  You know what I think of that.
   Our trip to Duluth yesterday began at 4:45 AM, in a blinding snowstorm, which we negotiated with considerable trepidation and even greater determination.  By the time we got to Iron River, about half way, the temperature was -14 degrees F.  Thank heavens for modern vehicles with all-wheel drive and dependable mechanics.  The "good old days" of automobiles were not that great.  Anyway, we got to the hospital on time, Joan's double carpel tunnel procedure went fine and we got back home by late afternoon.
   The Almanac is just a blip on the internet radar screen, a home-town blog of little interest to all but a small group of individuals (I have never been able to figure out why anyone would  bother to read it, but obviously some who have an interest in local Bayfield news do).
   So imagine my amazement when I noticed, about six months or so ago, a surge in page views from Russia, of all places.  Lots people from all over surf the web for lots of reasons, so I usually get "hits" from a variety of foreign countries.  But this was amazing; hundreds of hits from Russia, some days more than from the US.  Was I writing about Russia? No.  Did Bayfield sound like Siberia? Maybe.  Did that explain anything? Nyet.
   And then, just before the election, there was an article in the local paper about area Chamber of Commerce and some nonprofit web sites experiencing a lot of traffic from Russia.  It was obvious I was getting some of the overflow traffic.
   But why those sites, and mine along with them?  It had to have had something to do with the election, since as of today I have no page views from Russia at all, where it had been as many as a hundred a day previously.
   I don't know what the Russians were up to, perhaps trying to hack into local voting machines; I do know they weren't booking motel rooms to come for a visit.  We  have been Trump supporters and voted for him, and believe the election was fair, and a legitimate landslide.
   That doesn't mean we we want a Russian bear in our woods; we have enough of our own to deal with.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


Thursday:this is posted early Wednesday evening, as we leave for Duluth very early tomorrow mornng for Joan's carpel tunnel surgery.  
   The roads and weather have been terrible, with snow, ice and temperatures around zero.  But as we used to say, "When the goin' gets tough, the tough get goin'."
    Hope we're among the tough.


Tuesday, 8:30 AM.  30 degrees F at the ferry dock, 29 on the back porch.  Wind WNW, mostly calm with light gusts.  teh sky is overcast and cloudy, with fog over the channel and humidity 91%,  The barometer is steady at 29.88".  It is very slippery, with a dusting of snow over ice.  The atmosphere is thick with moisture.  The forecast calls for snow showers and overcast skies for the coming week.  At least we didn't get the heavy snow that was predicted.
   I can report that the steering wheel spinner I have been discussing has reached its final position on my truck steering wheel: 2:00 o'clock, located on the inside of the wheel, leaving enough room for my right hand to rest beneath it and above the wheel spoke.  It works well and is not in the way for normal use of the wheel once one becomes accustomed to it, and it is a great assist in turning, even with power steering.  It would work great for backing up to hitch onto a trailer as well.  I don't know if I will leave it on after my arm is healed; we'll see.



Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  1 degree F at the ferry dock, 0 on the back porch.  Wind NW, calm with light gusts.  The sky is overcast, there is heavy fog working its way up the bluffs from the channel and it is snowing lightly.  The humidity is 84% and the barometer is steady, presently at 30.66".  The rest of the week will be similar, then warming up some by Sunday.
   I have been longing hungrily for a real mince meat pie, such as my mother used to make, and I cannot find one in any of the bakeries.  I have found jars of so-called mince meat for pies on the shelf at the Washburn  IGA, but upon close inspection of the label I find no mention of what should be the first and foremost ingredient, meat of the American Mince, Mincus americanus.  In any case, Joan has refused to bake a mince meat pie from the contents of a jar, claiming that it would make a mockery of the real thing.
   The American Mince was once a fairly common denizen of the woods of Northern Wisconsin, but was extirpated from the state early on, before photography, so only descriptions by the first Scandinavian settlers and local Indians exist, although rumors of sightings in the pine barrens persist, even to this day. It is also rumored to be found in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest.
   The American Mince is a close relative of the much  larger Wisconsin Hodag, Hodag wisconsinensis, of the family Hodagaceae, which was  last seen in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, in1896. Although only the size of the more western Jackalope, the Amerian Mince had all the fierce characteristics of the Hodag, which probably accounts for its rarity in pies.  It was said that in the early days in Wisconsin settlers refused even to venture to the outhouse in the winter if a Mince had been sighted, and it was below zero outside.  Among the local Indian population only the mightiest of hunters could track and kill a mince, and wear its pink pelt with blue polkadots in the Sacred Mince Dance. 
   As fearsome a beast as it was, the mince had the sweetest tasting meat for pies, and was soon hunted to the brink of extinction, until a decree by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 established the National Mince Monument, comprised of  8 million acres of prime northern Wisconsin timberland, located within the perimeter of the fabled Round River, which has no source and no outlet, but continually flows into itself.
   Sadly, even that huge preserve could not stop  the precipitous decline in the numbers of the American Mince, and biologists of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources now theorize that it was not mince meat pies that doomed the mince, but competition for its primary food source, lutefisk, which grows only under Norway pines, and was over-harvested by Scandinavian immigrants, causing a population crash from which the species never recovered (the mince, not the Scandinavians,  which remain a major component of the Northern Wisconsin ecosystem).
   So, we find that in reality the demise of the American Mince is not so much a study in biology but of sociology, and is undoubtedly destined to become a prime topic for University of Wisconsin and other doctoral theses in that scientific discipline, along with Global Warming and the melting of ice cubes in martini glasses, which will overflow and inundate cocktail parties worldwide by the year 2050, with great loss of life at lower elevations.
   All in all, the story of the American Mince and its present day absence from pies is sad but true, and it makes me wonder where Mom got the mince meat for the pies she baked when I was a child.  I like to think that Dad encountered and subdued the mince on his way home from Gruenwald's, the tavern on the corner.
    As is so often the case, the truth concerning the mince of yesterday, even if compromised today, will live on  forever in legend and myth.