Wednesday, January 28, 2009
When people see me in my usual state...... the way I knock around here and in the woods.....that is without the sheet-rock stilts I wear under long pants when I travel or go to town....they expect me to have a tin-can voice, to be goofy and perky, with the intelligence and awareness level of a child: an attitude I expect from people and endure quietly.
But I really react rudely when I get called a "Little Person." If anyone wants to be called that, it's fine with me, but don't call me a "little person".
No offense to true little people, but, for the last time, I am not a fairy, a gnome, a midget, a dwarf, a child, nor can you say I'm generally diminutive. In important ways I am anything but that.
One way in particular. The big thing is that when I was young and hormones had recently been discovered, the Warren family Doctor McMurrary prescribed a regimen of a primitive growth hormone (I don' know if it was human or horse) on the theory that my legs, being the only part of me that was undersized, might simply have hesitated in their development , and that the hormones would provide the final push.....like the nipple on a party baloon.
Yeah, well, the treatments were halted after three months when it was discovered.....when I could not hide the fact that...... although the treatment had not caused my legs to grow, my dinglehammer had rampaged all out of proportion , especially for a "lad" (which is what the doctor called me, rather than"boy") of my technical height and supposed age.
In addition to a few painful knocks sustained before I got my first steel jock, the above mentioned Dinglehammer and his two henchmen have caused me a full flush of embarasments and pretty much constant inconvenience over the years.... but the General has done very good service, while also providing me with a gross of colorful adventures, which I definitely will not go into here.
But I wouldn't change a thing about the General.
Enough said...O.K.? I just had to get it out. Subject closed. I have spoken. Now can we please move on?
Monday, January 26, 2009
(If you are among the thousands who have arrived on this page hoping to see the movie that is sweeping the internet, please scroll down slow to the post below).
Anyways.....it's a drag. I'm talking about how my adoptive family had always figured I was about Davey's age ....... maybe six or seven years old when I showed up in their Natural Bridge back garden. But good Dr. Avery, my pro-bono dentist ( and a forensic consultant) who pulled a wisdom tooth of mine a few years ago, examined a cross section of the tooth and judged that I was eight to twelve years older than we had always assumed...... so I would then have been seventy versus Davey's sixty at that point... which would make me......I don't know what now, but the thought of it makes me tired.
Got nothing done today, didn't even get pissed or angry, just carried poor old Deerdra up and down the steps, saved her from drifts and from being splayed out on the ice track between here and the hen house, and retrieved her from where she shouldn't have been wandering in the dark , til I can hardly keep up with her..... even when Davey himself once in a while comes out in his deer-skin slippers and his lounging jacket, taking a break from trying to get through writing about the years nineteen sixty three and sixty four - which is as far as he has been able to get on with his memory since nineteen sixty nine. Old news now.
I could hang around inside and write his autobiography in about ten minutes myself, were I not planning the big trip North, and I'm feeling too old for much of anything right now. Except that real bad news of the moment is that the Granny stick's gone missing, and I have to post the alarm.
All we have is the drawing that Sandra Vlock did back in the early seventies, based on her immaculate conception of what Granny Stick would have looked like before all of her limbs and the recognizable features were worn away.
I like to think that the Granny stick just walked off, but I wouldn't mind if we discovered that it has just been misplaced, or if she just walked on back, no questions asked...or maybe questions asked after all, because she's a story telling stick and , to hear him tell, the his greatest treasure.
Littlenose often took the Granny stick out walking, though he never needed the help....Granny just needed a walk, he would say. And, he took her up when he told a story. That's what she was all about.
The story of the Granny stick, as he told it, was nothing less than the story of stories, and and he swore it was true, because his own Granny, who had given him the stick, told it to him:
So there is no doubt this happened way back when winters were harsher than they are now and often lasted for several years, so that the people often used up their stored food, firewood, and lamp oil and had to eat the dogs. In the worst winters, the people at their clothing and began to eat each other until the Windingo Monster ate the people.
It happened in ordinary hard that an old persons had so aged as to be not only of little practical use, but totally inedible, so they would be taken out onto the ice off shore, and left there with a blanket and, maybe a few dried blueberries if available. This was done with love and respect and often enough, the old would just get up out of the lodge and make the trip on their own.
One winter way back when the people's food was about used up a granny who had become so old that she was no longer much good at flensing hides, picking berries, or bringing in drift wood for the fire anymore and had also stopped eating, though she sat close to the lamp, so the people took her out on the ice, leaving her there with the traditional shell lamp, which had about the light life of a birthday candle.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Friday, January 23, 2009
Littlenose Johnson would have pulled me out of the snowbank who ever I was, but he wouldn't have given me so much attention after that or left his trailer to me, if my name had not been William Warren: the same as that of the Ojibway hero who, during the nineteenth century while still in his twenties, became a representative in the Minnesota legislature and wrote a still respected history of the Ojibwa, and then died at the age of twenty nine of tuberculosis which he probably picked up in the smokey lodges of the many sachems from whom he collected his information.
Littlenose shared with him the notion ( given a bad name by Joseph Smith with his hokey dissappearing gold tablets) that the western hemisphere was settled, at least in part, by the legendary lost tribe of wandering Jews. But Littlenose had a more nuanced notion of how that stood and, at least in the case of his personal ancestory, it was true.
James Little-Nose Johnson was the son of an Objibwa/Abnaki/Scot. The Scot was his father's great grandfather - a Jew from Edenbierg who emigrated to Canada, became a fur trader , and married an upper Yukon Abnaki.
It was the Scots trader, not one of his Indian forebears, who first got the name, Little-Nose. Could be he diid have a small nose, at leaat in comparion to his Yukon tribesmen , but it was also the usual name that group used for all white men. The name Johnson itself was one the family had long ago adopted for business purposes in Scotland. The name Fux, or Fuchs, as it was sometimes spelled, sounded too much like Fucks, and the literal English translation - "Fox", sounded too shifty for business purposes. So Johnson it was.
For a while, Lyman Littlenose Johnson, the son of that fellow and father of our Littlenose , made good money in the Great Bear Uranium mines. Littlenose had four years at a private school near Utica, New York and a year at a trade school in Toronto. Then the mines and money played out, the radiation killed his father, Tuberculosis his mother, and Littlenose took to the road. He never married, though I never knew why.
His nose, by the way, was not particularly small.
No, he said, probabally more than once, he had the BIG nose but the little Johnson.
The nose had a hawkish hook, not from his forefathers, but from when he ran into a dog's' head in trying to break up up a sled team fiight, and his nostils were usually flaring as it he were runing with his mouth closed or trying to signal with them.
He said it was the Inuit in him. He would say the man of the North and extrme cold has two main rules: Even if it is not frozen solid, do not drink hard liquor at forty below zero, and do not riun with your mouth open. Either one will quickly freeze your tonsils.
As for not eating yellow snow, he told me, there is a time and place for that.
Urine generally is sterile and harmless, and rein deer urine in the right season, can be rich in the psycho active Aminata Muscaria vision mushroom, that the reindeer love to get into.
As a matter of fact, said LittleNose, when he was seeking visions with the sachems in their sweat lodges, he had nearly lost his Johnson to one of the herd that had assembled, and always did, to eat the ground and vegition that had been peed upon by the men as the periodically took a break from the sweat. The important things I learned from Littlenose were on a higher level than that, but
his conversation was usually not
He earned his living at first as a surveyors assistant, carrying the chain through awful blowdowns and alder tangles to measure the shortest distance between two points, and after that internship, he put in a lot of time as a scout for hydro electric and power lines, then many years off and on he was a migratory lineman and rigger. He was also a tinker and fetish maker, working with copper and quills. Thie inside of hiis travel trailer is like a tool box, ready to go. In his life, he pulled it half way up and down the continent. He made blow gun made from split and reamed sumac, glued and bound back together with copper wire, and also from electrical conduit pipe to shoot darts fletched with cattail fluff.
Ed Demond and Littlenose saw a lot more of each other than I ever saw of either one, but any time I ever saw them together there was likely to be an argument about the settling of the New World. Ed believed in the Berring Strait landbridge and then right straigt down the west coast theory, and Little Nose argued for a slow and evolving migration at the speed of climate change along the great chain of lakes from The Artic to the St. Lawrence.
Littlenose didn't insist that that no Asians ever walked over the bering strait landbridge during low water, and he never insisted that the Lost tribe of Jews were the only commers.....no they were lost only because they, like the Johnsons, were now subsumed in the mingled races of the Americans.
These variousl peoples came not from Asia so much as from the artic - from the great circle around the green and flowing glacier during a warmer age.
According to Littlenose , the predominant race of early folk were small, and yellow from a diet rich in cellulose and resins. They ate roots and bark and drank sap, consumed also porcupine meat and wore their quilled hides for protection from large animals. They ate no beaver, but treated them as brothers and followed the colonies of the Great Beavers, which were as large as four hundred pounds in tat era .
When not traveling, the yellow people moved onto the drained flood land slived in the abandoned beaver lodges, They cultivated berms along the beaver canals and on the old pond bottom for the first years of their high fertility. Littlenose told me that when the great ice retreated, all the beavers got small and the people began to scatter up and down and across wide country. Rememant bands of the yellow people stayed mall and developed alliances with the porcupines.
Littlenose was not a Bigfoot believer, but he assured me that bands of the little people still existed in pretty safe secrecy all over the Cannadian Shield and even down into the Adirondacks.
Much of what he says comes from the old men and Sachem circles he sat with, but when I have sat with him and Ed DeMond, I am pretty sure I could see him originating some of the detail to bolster his argument, but ....Yellow people, Wandering Jews, North West Passage.....whatever you want to believe, I will be going the Way of Littlenose.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I've got to say it's a damn good thing I didn't already Ark out of here, because that would have left Davey with a lot of problems he isn't ready to handle at the moment.
For one, Deerdra, his dog is almost old enough to vote and has got such bad arthritis that, though she can walk, and even prance a bit in tracked snow when the old spirit moves her, she can hardly turn around or stand up to begin with; and she has to get up and go out many times a day and night.
It doesn't help much that she is always confused about whether she has just come in the door or just eaten, and that she feels she has to eat every time she thinks she just came in, and every time she eats again she has to go right out.
And when she goes out she doesn't remember that she is old and frail, so she blunders off into the snow, falls, and has to be rescued.
This is the dog which, when she was a two year old afraid of people and cars, was brought to Edgewood Place as a companion for Mama Dot, who was already ninety years old then...the dog which used to accompany Mama Dot on walks to the East Hill Cemetery, where more than once when the old lady fell in the snow, she ran to her and stood there feet splayed, to help the poor old lady up.
As long as Deerdra can stumble around, she deserves the same care.
That has become very demanding. When Deerdra goes to the door after Davey has gone to bed or shoved a dvd into his computer, he lets her out onto the porch and goes back to bed, but then she usually just stands at the top of the steps barking pitifully until I come to her, so I get little sleep, to say nothing about hibernation time, and have to haul myself out of the Ark carry her up and down the porch steps half a dozen times each night.
Her hearing is weak, as are her eyes, but her nose seems to as good as ever. I take her and the younger dog Taino down the orchard lanes to the end
of the property and then let them range in the hay meadow a bit, sniffing out the places where the deer have bedded and fed during the night.
After a brief snow melt recently, I was half way back to the Ark and noticed that Deerdra was not with us.
It took be a while to find her..... a quarter mile away off in a far corner of the hay meadow, feasting on a pile of fiberous manure the size of a Thanksgiving turkey.
There may be something in particular about that mystery poop which she craves for what ails her.
So when we get another thaw, or if I can find it today, I will bring some home. It could be really good shit....but it still is a big mystery to me what could have produced it. Even a moose would be too small, and the cattle range is on the other side of the woods.
Anyway, I am here as long as I am needed, but when and if it is necessary,
I will take Deerdra for the Long Walk. I won't be staying around here long after that myself.
Monday, January 19, 2009
The skunks who were living under and with our roosters seem to have moved on, though I can't imagine a better place for them near here. The little ones had a good time in the rooster feeder, but skunks prefer mice to sunflower seeds (or chicken) and they have probably eaten all the mice within short range, so now it will be the mice who get into the rations.
The skunks were good tenants, and they are free to return. Hope they do.
In Spring, adolescent male skunks get kicked out of communal dens and go looking for new hideouts. I knew a skunk in Ithaca that moved right into a dog kennel with a pack of fascist Border Collies, and was tolerated there until he tired to go in the pet door to the house. Then there was a big stink all around.
Young roosters, like adolescent beavers and other boys, make some very daring explorations. Davey's adolescent roosters would go a hundred yards or so up and down toward the neighbors. Our top rooster Dot would lead his four lieutenants and two or three hens right across the busy highway twice a day.
But in their second year, the roosters all prefer to hang around where they know food and the hens are, just pecking around, bluffing, and throwing their voices.
Today is the first day since the week long cold spell, that even Dot and his boys (who spent last winter outside by choice) have made the treck between the Chicken house and the Ark.
You can set the chickens free, but you can't make them range. Not if they don't want to...... and the stiff cold our hens will only come out to eat a little snow and maybe pull a few nubs of oyster shell off the stucco
Still, even though I expect to be leaving here soon, I can say that I have
already gone a long way toward training these guard roosters and chicken dogs, though none of the hens have shown any inclination to go broody and sit on eggs for longer than it takes to lay one, and are still generally meaner and less civil with one another than the roosters.
The hens will come around on that. Meanwhile, we have Taino the broody
chicken dog, who of course does not hatch the eggs....I do that in the Ark....but he nurses and broods over the chicks.
This is surprising as we expected him to be the fierce defender(not that he isn't also that) because he is a Labrador-pit bull male, whereas Deerdra, the older dog and a female, is the one you might expect to be the nurse dog.
Right now old Deerdra is in need of a nurse herself, and that seems to be me.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Due to the childhood burns on the right side of his face which make him seem to be either smirking wryly or twisting in pain, Ed Demond is more sensitive to insect bites than are other born woodsmen, so during the Black Fly season he lives at the Harrisville, New York Senior Complex, but as soon as the major bloodletting in the woods is over, he moves up to Panther Creek, where he stays right through Fall, Winter, Sugaring-Off, and early trout fishing, living all that time in the semi-improved south end of his old family sugar shack which he heats with nothing but porcupine dung: petrified turds, dug from from ancient deposits on his property.
Ed hasn't developed an automatic pellet feed for the turd burner, but he stays close by to cook on top of it, constantly feeding the stove a few pellets at a time from a nail apron he keeps filled by plunging a scoop through the X slits of a round pet door on the lower wall, to a lid-roofed bin mounted on the outside of the kitchen living room bedroom.
The pellets are dry, dense, piney and inoffensive The lightest and least compacted are like pine chezzits. The best fuel quality pellets are the denser and more ambered ones he finds in the furthest recesses, often in a kind of peanut brittle matrix.
Ed likes to be known as the Porcupine Man, but for 30 years he was a systems engineer downstate; then he retired to the North Country where he still owns the the Demond family sugar-bush and the boreal forest on both sides of X Falls, where Panther Creek sluices off the Adirondack Shield through an over-sized cross-cleft in a dike of pink granite.
Of course the X Clefts are not the neat X on the landscape the name suggests. The Passages can be entered by slopes at several ends, and have jigs, jags, transverse fractures, and some recesses deeper than you can measure, due to porcupine deposits of countless winters.
The dry extremities of the Clefts are winter home to the largest denning congregation of porcupines in the Adirondacks...... not that you could ever count the porcupines in their massive sleep-heaps.
Iroquois and others before them, have traditionally come hundreds of miles to collect shed quills from the X-Clefts each Spring after the porkys have left.
Even Ed never actually boils sap with the porcupellets as fuel.
And the family had been aware of the fuel quality of the old pellets only since Ed and his brother Eli had as kids dug under one overhang for a hide out and built a camp fire which ignited the porcuduff substrate and burned down into the vein for two days, until the boys brought down a dozen runs of old cedar half hollow sluices, and ran them from just above the falls to the smoking crack and they ran the water through there for r six hours.
The wash-out from this sluicing exposed some highly compressed and ambered pellets.
Ed hauls out the old-layer guano in October, and he keeps a snowshoe trail to X Falls where cedar and hemlock roots snake down the rock face into the piney guano of centuries, and the porcupines climb in and out on them all winter long.
Ed says that porcupines are about the most civil and the best engineered of critters, and it is mostly in the quills.
The brilliance of porcupine quills (which, if you are Ed, or a porcupine, are the greatest thing since hair and feathers) is that they have these microscopic, one-way barbules on them so they not only stay in a dog's tongue, nose, or eye, after only light penetration, but will be moved deeper and through the flesh, even into the brain, with every breathing movements of the victim.
Ed points out that the same phenomenon happens on the macro scale of the whole porcupine , to get the sleep heap circulating.
This keeps the constantly created pellets moving to the bottom and keep the porkys themselves evenly heated, even though their body temperatures have dropped way low and they will sometimes seem to be slow as sand pines.
Ed says porcupines are so resinous and frost-proof from sitting up in the pines eating nothing but buds and snow, that they can, and will, stay there through a three-day blizzard, and might never come down, except for their seasonal gregarious personalities.
He says that you could put two porcupines in your freezer on a Thursday, and when you opend it up on Sunday, they would be having sex, belly to belly. Only porcupines and some humans and occasional apes do that. Says Ed.
You might not want to get him started on this.
Porcupines. he will say, are the only critter which is safer when having sex, because The only serious predator on Porcupines is the Fisher: the dark wolf- weasel of the North which dives under the porcupine in deep snow, then comes up from under to disembowel the the creature.
Ed has written a few nature note pieces for north country weeklies, and used to give occasional porcupine presentations, but without actual porcupines or depictions of sex and violence, at several elementary shools down state. He always emphasizes the dangers of messing with porcupines, and does not encourage anyone to acquire, befriend, or confine porcupines. Except for a few tire-eating incidents and small stuff, Ed has had no serious problems with the porcupines.
Just as long as he doesn't leave any salt sweat-soaked wooden handled tools outside. Or leave the doors open. Or forget to take the chicken wire cages off the jeep tires before driving out.
Ed keeps an old milk can, now half full of ambered pellets, which he has panned from pools all the way down to the Oswegatchie. In recent years he hardly fishes at all anymore, just pans for porcupine amber.
It is pretty much a one man rush. He thinks there may be an industrial use for the most mineralized specimens. Mostly he just likes to treasure them, which involves plunging in his hand, pulling out a fist- full and letting them sift back in.....
....... The sound of them is powerfully calming......sounds like tiny teeth running through a big hour glass, stars sifting through the cosmos, or the chittering, seething porcupines of the clefts.
Porcupines disperse as widely as their waddling allows during the warm months, but in November and December Ed will often see another new road-kill porcupine every trip in or out from his camp. It was as if they been actually trooping up the road to get to X Falls. Now days the only qulll collector he knew who regularly visted the X-Cleft was his his friend Littlenose Johnson who was also one of the few visitors to the cabin itself, but now days, even LittleNose got most of his quills from road-kill.
Ed was pretty sure some of those porkys must have been deliberately run over.
The thought of that really pisses Ed off. Me too. Anyone who would deliberately run over a porcupine is an Ass Hole anyway, but in the old days, even the stupidest Ass Hole knew that you do kill a porcupine unless you're starving, because if a person is lost and starving, he can still fairly easily chase down a porcupine and kill it with a stick.
He generally left the poor, prickly burgers where they lay flattened, unless it was the middle of the road. Quills are no threat to tire treads of course, but if they get started in the side of a tire, a good tail quill will gradually work its way in, just like they work their way into a dogs nose. He has plenty of souvineer quills, and a dozen flies tied with them by Littlenose Johnson, who regularly in late Fall and early spring for many years, had kept his travel trailer near Jerden Falls on the Oswegatchie, and often collected quills from road-kill .
Ed and LittleNose drank many gallons of coffee together, on more than one occasion. Each and Littlenose drank many gallons of coffee, a gallon at a time, disagreeing about the history of the new world, smoking the same black Warnakie tobacco, Ed in the corn cob pipes which he throws into the stove when they get too juicy. Little Nose in a short soap stone pipe that could also be used with a wick in the bowl, as a lamp, and fire starter. I have it now.
On his way out for Sunday Breakfast one November morning, Ed came around the tongue of granite about a mile from X falls where he had seen a road-kill on his way in, two days before.. And there beside the still dead porky: face down on the shoulder of the road, the body in blue denim and brown duck.....the red blob of a watch cap a few feet up the sand shoulder, red pick-up truck just up on the opposite side.
LittleNose's hat, LittleNose's truck. James LittleNose-Johnson who a long time ago saved my own life by pulling me drunk and unconscious, out of a snow bank.
Who killed LittleNose?
Well, I don't care to bring that person into my life, and I'm not going to chase into the past, but it suits me to camp where LittleNose did and to bring his Pipe Lamp to X Falls one more time.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
I plan on making it to Lake Bonaparte in my first season of Ark travel. That's going to put me within easy reach of the St. Lawrence River for the next leg of the journey to Great Bear.
But for that first Winter out, I'll stay at the lake until the first couple inches of snow stick, then pull overland and up the Oswegatchie to Ed Demond's Panther Creek property.
I'll stay though the winter there and help Ed with the sugaring. Then I'll haul off, down river before the black flies and no-see-ums get too wicked, even in the the spray of X Falls. But not before we have had a lot of time around the stove with plenty of chance to talk things over.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Good God Dog! I was sleeping, or whatever you want to call my suspended animations.....totally out of it for over a month, leaving Davey to spoil or neglect the chickens ....... until suddenly a light came on in my head, and I sat up out of the wood shavings.
Even through the tupperwear lid windows of the Ark, the sun was bright.
When I stood and pushed with my head and elbow to raise the roof-lid, it was heavy with snow.
Looking out I saw a snow hat on the cupola of the chicken house; the crushed-stone, rooster- dunged, and seed-hulled, drive- way forgotten under snow, snow piled up on the Sumac horns. Snow everywhere. Snow and light.
My head was dancing with fresh ideas, and when I moved, my underwear rattled with the familiar old, perfectly- formed Winter-Cherries. I was glad to see I had not lost all my old hiber-skills.
That was only yesterday. I went about my business, and now I'm eating like a horse.
And the main thing is: Hallifuginglula!......I woke up seeing my way ahead , and the way is clear as the map on this page.
Right up the Great Chain of Lakes to Great Bear.
This is the way of fur trappers and traders , war parties , and nomads, as well as migrating waterfowl, and beavers from the Pleistocene on...... and, if you hold with Little-Nose Johnson, the route taken by the first people to move onto this Sea Horse, North American Continent.
What is it?........ January something. We're already past the Solstice, with the light growing, but with more snow and colder weather to come.
Last night I saw the old moon in the new. Later today, I'm going to put on my feathered snow shoes, and go giant stepping in the woods.. Meanwhile, It's a giant satisfaction just to know for sure where I'm eventually going and the route I'm going to take when I finally pull the Ark off this flat- top, Dog's Plot hill.