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.
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.
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?
“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 FinancialPlanner 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.”
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.
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.
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?
My cardboard sign is printed and stapled to a broken shovel handle.
I have a thermos of coffee and a sandwich or two stuck in my jacket pocket.
I’m ready for the picket line.
I tried to convince them, my family, that when my door is closed and the muffled sounds of talk radio or a Brewer game are heard, that’s my time to write. My thought process as it is doesn’t take much to interrupt and the next great idea can disappear in a wisp of e-smoke.
They, on the other hand expect me to be at their beck and call, dropping everything to respond to perceived “emergencies” like an exploding toilet or when my wife’s mother died.
I tried to make the funeral but was totally engrossed in editing two paragraphs of the greatest story ever told.
I kind of liked her too.
So, it’s come to this. No more household chores, no more responding to cuts, bruises or dog poop. I’m walking out, on strike for better writing conditions.
These are my demands.
From the hours of 9AM until noon I am to be in my office undisturbed except when I emerge for something to eat or more coffee. While enroute to the refrigerator others must remember that I am deep in thought and cannot be bothered. A simple nod of acknowledgement will suffice.
1PM (after a lunch break) to 3:30 PM, I will be available to take on assignments around the house, school or hospital by appointment only. Appointments may be made Mon-Thurs between the hours of 1-3:30 PM, by appointment.
Exceptions may be made for Emergency Government confirmed severe weather emergencies, but only if food is running low and deaths in the immediate family are eminent. Immediate family to be defined as; spouse, legal dependents, the dog (especially if he dies in the house) and select relatives by previously negotiated agreement.
3:30PM to whenever I wake up-nap time. Then it’s time to get ready for dinner, a short walk and a couple more hours of editing before bed.
This schedule is to be followed Mon-Friday with arbitrary substitutions for Saturday and Sunday if the fish are biting. After all, my creative batteries must be recharged from time to time.
“Hey, where’s everyone going? What’s the moving van doing here? You just can’t do that without an appointment! I do have a say in what goes on around here!”
Some still do the work of 27 horses while most have long since ceased to work at all.
Some still show the gleaming red and grey paint job which was unique to the brand while many have long since rusted away in abandoned fields and barnyards.
Trees grow through their oxidized frames and decayed rubber tires as nature, slowly but surely takes back the landscape.
These were the machines that replaced horses on the farm and, before rural electric service became a reality, even powered milking machines with a vacuum pump connection extending along the transmission.
By 1945 tractors made by several manufacturers; Ford, John Deere, Allis Chalmers, Case, et.al., had surpassed horses as the main power train on America’s farms.
They pulled a two-bottom plow, and all the implements needed for a young veteran returning home to 40 acres and a herd of milking cows.
A new Ford tractor cost around $600 when they were built but if you have one today that still runs, with hood and tires intact, it can be worth up to $4000.
Parts are still available usually at a junk yard where for a few dollars you can rummage through the field of worn out machines searching for the one that matches yours, hoping the part you need is still there-and still works.
The one we owned was purchased through a grant from the State Vocational Rehabilitation Program for my dad while he recovered from the effects of polio and was used to raise pickles on an acre of land my grandparents owned.
It also made extra money for us by plowing neighborhood gardens in town.
It was my first car at age 12.
I along with one or two other idiots would race around town sometimes actually doing what Dad wanted me to do but mostly just screwing around.
One day while a buddy, Larry was plowing and I riding the fender, the plow found the one boulder in Mr. Anderson’s potato patch. The tractor stopped dead while I continued to move forward at about 6 mph, bouncing off the front tire.
That old Ford could do wheelies.
Another time, years later with the same two idiots, we were hauling firewood on the farm when Dennis threw a piece of wood which ricocheted off the rear tire and hit me in the back of the head.
He claimed, after several minutes of hysterical laughing, that it was an accident.
Seems that head injuries were a familiar thread through my life.
You really do see stars.
My first business was to use a newer (1948) Ford 8-N with a front end loader with which I skidded logs off a ski hill being built in Waushara County.
Today, it’s known as Nordic Mountain-1100 feet high with runs for skiing, snow-boarding or tubing, a full service chalet and cross country trails.
The trick was to drive straight up the steep grade to the logs already cut, jam on one brake to spin the tractor around, facing downhill while shutting off the engine to keep it from sliding back down (brakes wouldn’t hold). Then I would quickly hook the logs and skid them down to a level field for cutting to length and loading.
We still have one, an 9-N which was built in the early ’40s. It’s condition is closer to the rusted out models than new but still serviceable when we can get it started.
The starter linkage is broken but if you short across the solenoid with a screwdriver (being careful not to touch the metal) it will arc, spark, turn over and finally start running.
We use it to snake through the cut-over wood lot to bring out firewood; oak, cherry and walnut, hauling it to the pile near the farm house for splitting and stacking.
With chains on the tires we can use it all winter long unless the snow gets too deep or the temperature gets below zero.
Below zero it doesn’t start at all, but then again, neither do I.