Ageless

When Joyce Kilmer penned ‘Trees’ in 1913:  “I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree…” The poet, I’m sure wasn’t contemplating the essence  of the cottonwood.

Spring is the time of the year when these lovely trees share their seeds, those fluffy harbingers of misery that show up like wedding crashers in my pond pumps, air conditioning and worst of all-they gum up my fishing reels.

I know that we don’t have one in our yard and I don’t recall seeing one in the neighborhood but there has to be a prolific female of the “Populus deltoides” within a short distance of our house.

The males of the species don’t shed, thank you.

According to the Department of Agriculture, those pesky  little cottony fibers can fly for several hundred yards on the slightest of breezes. If they should land in a river or other waterway, they can spread for miles.

These trees live on average of 80-100 years with the oldest recorded one in the U.S. located in Balmsville, New York.  This one was recently cut down at the age of 300 as it was becoming a traffic hazard.

Folklore tells that George Washington planted his walking stick in the ground and left it there. The stick being made of cottonwood.

Not as good a tale as the cherry tree but as good an excuse for the massive shade, seed bearing, obnoxious deciduous plants as any.

They do like the flood  prone areas along riverbanks and are often used to reclaim strip mining lands and offer erosion control, growing up to six feet a year.

Because of this rapid growth, they do not produce good lumber but are used extensively in the pulp making process, providing a source of high quality paper.

As for the author…

Born as Alfred Joyce Kilmer on December 6, 1886 the son of Dr. Frederick Barnett Kilmer who invented  Johnson’s Baby Powder and his wife,  Annie Ellen Kilburn.

After graduating from Columbia University of New York he distinguished himself as a freelancer with Funk and Wagnalls dictionary by writing word definitions at 5 cents apiece. He was so productive at the job that the publisher put him on salary.(1)

It was during this time that  he penned the poem for which he became famous.

Even though he had a family to support and had established himself as a poet, essayist and lecturer, he volunteered for military service in WWI, serving as a scout in the famed 42nd “Rainbow Division”.

His service took him to France and the Second Battle of Marne where he became an intelligence scout in a unit that later (in WWII) was established as the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA.

Although his poem was often criticized and lampooned, it inspired a movement that exists to this day.

Tree planting and conservation had become his calling, leading  to the naming of  many natural areas after him, including the 3,800 acres of virgin timber which make up the Joyce Kilmer National Forest in North Carolina.

He never lived to see the inspiration that his poem, “Trees” provided to the millions of us who value and encourage the care and management of forests.

He never received the accolades given him or his work.

At the age of 31,  Sergeant Alfred Joyce Kilmer was killed by a German sniper’s bullet on July 30, 1918.

He was posthumously awarded the French Criox du guerre for distinguishing himself “by acts of heroism during combat.”

 

 

“Poems are written by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.”

Thank you for your service.

 

  1. Hillis, John. Joyce Kilmer: A Bio-Bibliography. Master of Science (Library Science) Thesis. Catholic University of America. (Washington, DC: 1962)

My Reality

 

At least twice now someone going by the name of “Joe” has called from “the gifting center” with an Appleton phone number.

His first question was, “can you hear me okay.”

Of course I didn’t fall for that trick, to get my voice recorded saying, “yes.”

The question remains. Am I still paranoid if they are really out to get me, or am I paranoid because they are out to get me?

Skimming, phishing, spam, shimming, evil twin attacks and the like have proven, to me at least, that they are definitely out to get me.

Every time I Google a topic, I immediately get incessant ads for any and all products even remotely related to the search.

I have no idea how a scantily clad female in a “plunge V-neck backless play suit,” can be the result of an online trip to Cabelas.

Videos in an endless loop pop up with no  conceivable way to close them, except to close out the link. For the record I will never, I repeat never, buy a “Bissell Little Green Portable Spot and Stain Cleaner, 1400m…”

I’m tearing up the carpet.

I get marketing, really I do. But their intrusion into my life has become personal. They can’t be doing this to everyone.

When I click the link to “unsubscribe” it only gets worse.

Now that my credit card companies have finally imbedded a chip to defeat the skimmers at the gas pump and ATM, a new gadget called a “shimmer” has been found inserted into the card reader.

It defeated my chip.

It’s like they know what I’m doing before I even do it.

They, the other “they” insist that I check my credit rating and reports once a year through the big three credit reporting agencies.

Yeah, like Equifax?

My phone texts me with special offers from an unknown number that cannot be blocked. Only an unidentified number to call…

My driver’s license information has been sold, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

I’m not worried  about that so much. They’ll have to take a number-and wait for “Counter D-8.”

The fraudsters have gotten very clever, using names and phone numbers that appear to be familiar. Like Joe from Appleton, WI with a 920 area code.

I don’t know anyone from Appleton. Why do they keep calling me?

Every now and then, it’s obvious that they are not from around here.

“Mr. Willoson, I like to be …….”

I got another suspicious email the other day from: ruskecrook@somewhereintheukraine.gov.

“Comrade: I have deleted all of your personal information from our databases. Your social security number, bank account numbers, names of family members and addresses, along with your dog’s rabies shot record.”

“You don’t have enough to steal.”

“Joe” called again the other day. I responded by saying, “No I don’t hear you Joe, but I know where you live and I will come to get you.”

Click.

 

Fitting In

http://www.bestloseweight.org/diet-plan-nutra/

 

 Hand me downs were a part of my life growing up. All the families we knew passed along gently worn clothing from the older kids to the younger ones.

As I was the oldest in my family, I got stuff from cousins who got stuff from their older siblings and so on.

After being used by two or three other kids for a year or two each, the pants I eventually inherited could have been as old as me.

The “gently worn” moniker became more like, “not much left.”

But my mom would patch and sew, shorten and take in the waist to make them fit and workable for one more year or until a new batch of new used clothing would come my way.

The parts of the jeans that took the most abuse naturally, were the knees.

This would be resolved by ironing on patches made of some kind of pressed asphalt material that would once again allow the pants to stand on their own.

If those four inch square patches were attached to the outside, it was obvious they were patched. When put on the inside they weren’t so obvious but the abrasions to my knees were.

New stuff was for the start of school. Usually a pair or two of jeans. You know, the kind that could be heard walking down the hallway.

Denim was heavy duty in those days with double stitched seams, and the rivets on the pockets would lacerate your hands if you weren’t careful.

The waist as usually one or two sizes too big and was “taken in” by sewing a folded over portion on either side so they wouldn’t fall down.

Cuffs were always folded up twice, waiting for the inevitable growth spurt which quickly surpassed the length, resulting in a high-water look.

Pants and I haven’t been a good fit for many years now.

I still have some like new 34 inch waist slacks hanging in the closet, anxiously waiting for me to lose twenty or thirty pounds.

The length stays the same but the waist (on the pants) for some reason, contracts.

I had gotten a pair of brand new expensive (well over $20) jeans as a gift which promptly shrank in the closet after only one or two wearings.

Then, one day on a whim I tried them on again.

They fit.

Wow I must be losing weight.

I promptly went to show Sue how much waist room there was and in fact, these were  too big for me now.

She quietly explained that the ones I once had were given to Goodwill and replaced by another pair of a more fitting size.

“A 40 inch waist? What am I going to do with pants of that size?”

“Don’t worry,” she replied. “You’ll grow into ’em.”

 

Back in ’67

Skype-Anyone

https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2017/02/50-years-ago-a-look-back-at-1967/516174/

 

Trolling For Clams

Approaching the border we had all our credentials in order but when I handed the passports over I had fumbled around and failed to have one of them opened to the right page.

Whether it was his cynicism or just a dry sense of humor, the border guard made quick note of that. “After all that work you still didn’t get it right.”

“Where you headed?” he asked.

“Lake Pak ash a kan” I replied, or something like that.

As he turned away he mumbled what I assumed to be, the correct pronunciation which was nothing like what I had said.

Just as we laugh at those from south of the border trying to pronounce simple Wisconsin names like Wausau, Weyauwega or Oconomowoc.

“Any weapons, tobacco, drugs? How much alcohol are your carrying (as if Wisconsinites can’t leave home without it)? One case of beer, I replied.

Then he made another comment that I took to mean “have a nice day.”

I was wrong.

“That wasn’t a comment but a question” he stated. My look of confusion and the long line of cars behind us no doubt influenced his decision not to bother with me any longer.

“Have a nice trip.”

We were now in Canada-going fishing!

Lake Pakashkan is about 125 miles from Thunder Bay which is 500 miles from Green Bay. The last 40 or so, down unmarked logging roads.

11706 acres of sunken islands, rocks and sandbars with a little water here and there just to make you think it’s safe to drive a boat.

Virtually everything has to be brought in. Food, fuel, bait, toilet paper. Otherwise it’s 40 miles back over those same washboard gravel roads to the nearest town, Upsula, which may or may not have what you need.

Naturally the weather was cold, raining, and windy but after ten hours of driving we launched the boats anyway.

And caught fish. Lots of fish.

The rule was; “nothing under 16 inches, nothing over 18” but a big one could go into “the book.”

“The book” was started around 2002 and contained  pertinent information about landing  a Northern Pike over 35 inches or a Walleye over 24.

These were caught in places such as “Jon’s Hole, Harry’s Hideout, Hog Run” and included the time, place, type of bait used and of course, the name of the one who caught it.

Fish were caught, measured and released but once in the book, bragging rights were forever.

It’s an honor system.

Some, it seems might have been just a little less than honorable over the years but hey, that’s fishing.

The biggest Walleye recorded was 33 1/2 inches caught in 2003 on a jig and crawler while the record Northern was listed as a 47 incher on a rapala in 2010.

No record for the smallest but I do have a picture of one that just has to qualify as the smallest fish ever recorded-here or anywhere else. Hannas-fish.pdf

We did place a couple bets on the biggest for the day between the boats. I won one with a 21 inch Walleye and lost the other to a 24 incher.

The latter also went into “the book.”

Nights were filled with, what else but eating fresh fish, cooking for ten and listening to the stories of the day and past trips.

Tough Fishing

Games of ‘Liar’s Dice’ and banter lasted until the last dog was hung.

Morning came early with coffee brewed in a real coffee pot on the propane fueled stove, a pocket full of licorice, beef sticks or trail mix and we were off.

Just like the Post Office, “neither rain nor sleet nor black of night….” lightning was about the only thing that would keep us from  stalking lunker “eyes.”

Breakfast around 9 followed by more fishing ’til 430 then supper, followed by more fishing, ’til dark.

Catch fish, clean fish, eat fish, tell lies, sleep, repeat.

Someone discovered an new way to make old fashionds with crushed cherry starbursts and carbonated water. Plus booze and bitters, of course.

Some will say it’s just about the fish but others contend it’s  bonding with family and friends, enjoying the outdoors and finding adventure on foreign soil.

It’s the fish.

And some of that other stuff.

Saw a moose.

All clams were released unharmed.

Lake Pakashkan (Pa-cashˊ-kun).

No More Butt Crack Jokes From Me

Why plumbers are more important than doctors.

There are around 800,000 practicing doctors in the US, from general practitioners to neurosurgeons and cardiologists.

That’s roughly one for every 370 people.

But, there is only one plumber, pipefitter or steamfitter available for every 500 people if the real emergency comes along.

After thirty years or so of being a member of the SIUM (screwing it up myself) club, I have finally decided it’s time to call in a specialist.

You know, one who can tell the difference from a compression fitting and a plunger.

SIUM-The Hard Way

  • Water finds a way. No matter how hard you tighten, how much you putty or how often you employ the magic words, water will find a way to leak into an area where it will cause the most damage.
  • If you notice a small “bubble” in the ceiling paint-don’t touch it! That thin coat of paint is the only thing standing between your breakfast and the many-years build up of stuff seeping from the bathroom shower above.
  • Sweating joints has nothing to do with the gym.
  • There is no such thing as “standard” when it comes to parts and fittings. Each manufacturer or commercial supplier offers different parts for the same brand of fixture. This, by design frustrates the SIUMs of the world and no doubt, keeps the professionals punching a clock.
  • Measure everything (see above). A shower stall bought from the local SIUM store is not the same size as the one that came with the house thirty years ago. I have since solved the problem, by showering sideways.
  • Necessary tools for all SIUMs: plunger, snake and a BFH (not found on Face Book).
  • The plunger: This handy tool is the first line of defense when the toilet is running over with who-knows-what, spilling onto the floor and running down the stairs. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to use this particular item-you won’t be able to find it anyway.
  • The flexible power closet auger or “snake”. This device can extend up to 25 feet into the toilet bowl, through traps and junctions, almost to the point where it is needed. It is guaranteed to loosen up and release years of trapped sewer gas and unknown chemical compounds, right into your face. A good gag reflex is a must.
  • The BFH-no explanation necessary. Simply apply, and then call a real plumber. You will have caused considerable damage to your home but the feeling of smashing the dirty rotten porcelain bastard into oblivion, will be well worth it.

I can’t tell you the name of my doctor but I’m confident that if I have a heart attack, someone will call 911 and there will be a qualified professional waiting to take care of me.

My plumber-is on speed dial.

 

Why Is It?

Why is it, when I try to pass someone who is traveling in the slow lane-he speeds up?

Gone Fishing

Matt’s Walleye

 

 

 

My Northern

 

 

See You Next Week!

Not a Northern

True Grit

http://www.grit.com/grit-history/

 

 

“Hey Mr. Johnson, Can I interest  you  in the worlds’ most informative and fun, fact-filled newspaper in America?”

“Huh. Who are you?” he asked,

“I’m your neighbor, Lawrence Wilson. Don’t you remember? I helped find your lost dog last week?”

“Well, I don’t buy from strangers and especially door to door salesmen.”

“Hm. Hope you dog runs away again you crabby old fart.”

“Hello Mr. Anderson.”

And so it went. “The opportunity to make a fortune,” the add promised. “Put yourself through college, attract girls and be the envy of all your friends.”

So much for that. I couldn’t sell enough copies of ‘Grit'(or anything like it) to buy a pack of gum, let alone a fancy car or get girls.

I’d be lucky to get out of 5th grade.

Opportunities came and went, along with their respective fortunes.

Sell ……” “Learn Real Estate.” “Become a Licensed Financial Planner in only six weeks.” “Earn Real Wealth with …..”

It all came to a head while working my way through college. I got a summer job selling Cancer Insurance which was the new way to address the rising costs of treatment.

My boss/mentor had an opening line that went something like this. We would pull up to a new-looking home with the owner outside, painting.

Mr. Salesman of The Year would walk up and start a conversation.

“Nice looking home you got here. Is it new?” Why thanks replied Mr. Homeowner. Then the hook. “I’d sure hate to see you lose it if you or a loved one got cancer.”

About that time, Mr. Homeowner would either run for the shotgun or let the dogs loose.

After three months of going hungry and flinching every time I heard a dog bark, I got a job as a bartender.

Eventually I found something that required no selling, no convincing, and I didn’t really have to talk to anyone.

All I had to do was run into burning buildings.

Yep, I got a job as a firefighter.

After 30 years or so and yes, I did talk to people from time to time.

Stuff like “Change your clock, change your smoke detector battery.”

“Stop, drop and roll.”

Stuff like that.

Then one day a friend called and invited me to help sell boats at a Midwest boat show.

I was retired and who knows maybe now I can get it. “Sure, I’ll be there.”

He sent some literature with instructions. “Just know everything about these boats. Watch a You Tube video or two and come prepared to sell.”

Right.

Thirteen makes and models, along with all the various sizes and prices. Fishing, sport, ski, pontoons, deck boats, day boats, cruisers.  And about a hundred options to boot.

Nightmares of fifth grade came rushing back. I broke into a cold sweat and didn’t sleep for days, waiting for the inevitable rejection and failure.

“Sorry about your house, mister.”

“Hi folks, see anything you like?” “Just looking,” they replied as they hurried away.

“How are you today?” (Nothing).

As if I were a leper, the closer I got to people the farther they shied away.

Then I tried the tactic of hovering between the boats while they looked. You know, like the used car salesman who suddenly appears out of nowhere when you stop to look at a car. He just pops up like a groundhog at Chuck ‘E’ Cheese.

Two women who were interested in a pontoon boat stopped and I led them to our show special. “Yes Mam, 22 feet of deck with a captain’s console, room for eight and a 150 horse engine pushing her.”

I no sooner got them on board than another salesman started up a conversation with them. It seems that they all vacationed in the same area, of Wisconsin. Sounded like they might have been neighbors or something.

After about ten minutes of being ignored, I just sort of faded away, back down to the fishing boats.

Forget about the cruisers, the bow riders….

At least I knew which end was which on the fishing boats. The pointed end is the front (bow). Right (starboard) left (port).

The horsepower is printed on the engine so even I could get it right just by looking.

Finally, a middle aged man and his son approached, looked around and settled on one of the more expensive models, a 20 footer with a walk-through windshield, 200 horse motor.

“We’ll take this one, he said. With these options. “Ok I replied, I’ll write it up.” “But we have a few questions.”

Oh, great. More questions about options, packages, trailer accessories and about seven other things I knew nothing about.

I got another guy to come over and help. I got my manager to help. In fact, he not only spent several hours with the buyer but closed the deal and wrote it up.

Ka-ching!

First one in the bank. Wow. My first commission ever, and it was a big one.

Not to say that I didn’t really do anything to earn it. Just said “hi” and handed them over like a quarterback to the running back for the heavy work.

Ka-ching!

Sold one other just like that. Actually it was the manager’s previous customers who stopped by and bought not one, but two boats.

I was on a roll.

Then they started to close down the show. This was the last day. They didn’t need me again until next year.

Next year? I’m rolling now. I’m selling. Now.

They thanked me for my efforts and promised to call in January when the shows start up again.

January? I was just getting the hang of it. What am I supposed to do ’til January?

“Dear Grit……..”

http://www.grit.com/grit-history/