A river ran through it.

So how was our vacation? It was pretty good, I think. Here’s where we went:


Not here, exactly. Farther back:


Almost there. Here:


Wow! In that log mansion? Not exactly — that’s the owner’s house, and they were only there for the first weekend. We rented their guest cottage next door:


Two bedrooms, 30 feet or so from the Au Sable River, which meant Alan was in pig heaven and so was I, because in addition to the woods and the quiet and the tolerable level of bugs and the screened porch and the nothing-to-do-ness of it all, there was also this:


Lately, a key element to full enjoyment of one’s time off. No internet — and no kid, Kate having been deposited at camp on day one — meant I was free to loaf about and do pretty much exactly what I wanted, and that was: Loaf about. And read. I plowed through five novels, none of them particularly good, but it reminded me of how much I’ve missed this, and maybe I should stop trying to read the whole internet every single day and carve out an hour or so for the printed word. Did the world stop turning in my absence? No, and I still missed only four on the Slate News Quiz, and I hardly heard any news last week. So maybe I should stop trying so hard to keep up. This three-week break from Miss Kate might be a good time to try to make some adjustments. She’s already in France, and left a Father’s Day message stating that she was fed quail and goat cheese, and tonight’s menu was to include escargot, so it sounds like she’s getting a crash course in life adjustments herself.

We did get a little bit of exercise, but downstream? Not that much:


Back to the books I read. It included one Loren Estleman title, “American Detective,” which should have been a clue — when the book has such a generic title, beware. It’s one of his Amos Walker series, a classic gumshoe who works in Detroit. I read them because, duh, Detroit, and to be sure, they have some wonderful rat-a-tat dialogue here and there, but I think this will be the last. Maybe someone has asked Laura Lippman her thoughts on the novelist’s duty to a place, once they’ve decided to set a story in an existing city. What can you change? I think you can make up streets, and you can adjust some details via poetic license, but there have to be some rules. Can you make up entire suburbs? I say no. (Estleman does it all the time.) Can you change geography in significant ways? This is the second of his books that has featured a throwaway line about the Detroit River “widening into Lake St. Clair,” which has the entire continental flow of water going in the wrong direction, and this just makes me nuts. He also spelled “gunwales” wrong, which makes me wonder about fiction editors — weren’t they English majors?

He’s not alone, either. I never picked up a second book by a particular author, after his first featured a scene set in a nighttime jungle, and he mentions the screaming of the birds. I’ve never been to a jungle, but I’m 99 percent sure birds don’t scream at night, even there. You might have a few hoots from a nocturnal avian predator here and there, but if you want the birds to scream, it has to be daytime.

Later in the same book, a character watches the sun rise over the water in a place where such a view is impossible, because the sun rises in the east. Hey, mistakes happen. Books are hard. But I don’t think you get to move the damn sun around.

Rant over. I’m feeling pretty mellow, all things considered. I’m glad so many of you enjoyed the ancient archives, and am still working my way through the comments. I’m also reading up on Edward Snowden, and am glad I don’t have to have instant opinions anymore, because the picture keeps changing. I’ll leave you with this short video, the only job we had last week. The owners of the property dammed a small creek and stocked it with rainbow trout, which they enjoy almost entirely as pets — I think they said they’ve eaten one over the years, but none recently. Every other day we were instructed to toss them half a bucket of trout chow, which made for some amusement:

May your week be filled with something similar. Trout chow, or amusement, or a guy throwing food at you.

Posted at 12:30 am in Same ol' same ol' |

46 responses to “A river ran through it.”

  1. Brandon said on June 17, 2013 at 12:58 am

    Parts of the Big Island, particularly in Puna, are jungle.

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  2. Dexter said on June 17, 2013 at 1:55 am

    My only child was conceived in the Au Sable Lodge. Imagine that. It was in July of 1977.

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  3. Dexter said on June 17, 2013 at 2:13 am

    Oh, in case you missed it…Facebook is hitting the skids.

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  4. Rana said on June 17, 2013 at 3:21 am

    Wow, those are some trout!

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  5. ROGirl said on June 17, 2013 at 5:10 am

    If there’s ever a need for a trout feeding frenzy for a movie, this would work quite well.

    When James Joyce was writing Ulysses in his self-imposed exile in Italy, he famously wrote to friends in Ireland and consulted maps to confirm the geographic details of Dublin.

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  6. David C. said on June 17, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Mary and I went to the Porcupine Mountains in the U.P. three years ago. We went up to Lake of the Clouds and saw a couple holding their cells up to the heavens, hoping against hope that they would get a signal. They hardly seemed interested in one of the prettiest sights you would ever want to see. I’m not particularly a Luddite, but I feel like one of the few that doesn’t have a phone strapped on all the time. I don’t want to be, and can’t particularly figure out why anyone would want to be plugged in all the time.

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  7. brian stouder said on June 17, 2013 at 7:51 am

    I liked the crane – or whatever the long-billed bird is – who stands there looking at the excited fish as if he’s in the meat section at the supermarket

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  8. basset said on June 17, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Believe that’s some kind of heron; those are big ol’ trout, though, he’s probably looking for a minnow or something. That’d be our kind of vacation, too… Nance, how’d you connect with the owners?

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  9. Rob Kantner said on June 17, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Loren also famously had a batter hit a home run clean out of Tiger Stadium “onto Michigan Avenue” (sorry about that — foul ball). And I once turned, in successive graphs, an automatic into a revolver and back into an automatic again. Let those who are sinless among us. . . .

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  10. alex said on June 17, 2013 at 8:32 am

    We feed our fish—bluegill mostly—and they come to the dock just like trained animals the instant they hear footsteps. Turtles show up too. We feed them white bread. It’s cheap.

    Brandon @1: Puna? Sounds like some word Thor Heyerdahl made up—like vahine! Puna-na-na-na.

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  11. Kim said on June 17, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Beautiful! Glad you had time to slow it down in a tranquil spot.

    As one tethered (for work) to electronics all damned day, every day, I have a hard time pulling off the grid except when it’s done for me – as it was for Thursday through Saturday after a wicked storm took out our power. Once my phone died, that was it. Cleaned up from the storm, saw my middle child graduate from h.s., went with her kayaking a few times on the creek and saw the annual invasion of cownose rays (their wings curl up above the water so you’re convinced they’re sharks), eagles, osprey – God, how I didn’t want the power to come back.

    I spose if I were a stronger person I’d be able to make that adjustment.

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  12. nancy said on June 17, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Alan found this place advertised in a fishing magazine. That’s not a real heron, I should add, but a decoy (if they make heron decoys). The strings over the right side of the pond are to discourage herons and especially eagles, which are their main predators.

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  13. brian stouder said on June 17, 2013 at 9:03 am

    The strings over the right side of the pond are to discourage herons and especially eagles

    …. “where eagles snare”?

    I suppose the payback (for the herons) is that the fish might become complacent about seeing them standing nearby…until, at another time, and at another place, ‘the bill comes due’ (so to speak)

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  14. brian stouder said on June 17, 2013 at 9:05 am

    (and by the way, our 9 year old would have taken approximately 41/2 hours to plink that much fish food into the water)

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  15. Judybusy said on June 17, 2013 at 10:02 am

    I also had a great, unplugged weekend: our 6th stay at a B and B near Lanesboro, which is bluff country, with lots of artsy stuff going on. We met up with friends from Iowa–whom we met at the B and B six years ago. There was biking, eating, Gamel Dag (a Norwegian festival, where I ran into a high school friend, hundreds of miles from where we grew up) Noel Coward’s Blythe Spirit at the theater, and Art in the Park. There, we bought a cute apron for my partner and alpaca baby hats for new babies in our lives. Yes, too warm now, but winter will come round again. We are already booked for 2014.

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  16. Deborah said on June 17, 2013 at 10:20 am

    We are mostly unplugged on our land in Abiquiu. There’s one spot where you can sometimes make calls, and every once in awhile I can get on the Internet on my iPhone there. Even in Santa Fe cell service is spotty.

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  17. adrianne said on June 17, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Hey, Nance, sounds like a mellow vacation – I agree with you on the power of just reading whatever the hell you feel like instead of being plugged into the Intertubes. When we did a mini-getaway to Cape Cod over Memorial Day weekend, the weather was lousy, so we mostly just read, ate great seafood, and watched “Rome” on Netflix. Good times!

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  18. brian stouder said on June 17, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Say, here’s our annual dog-days-in-Detroit interlude:


    an excerpt:

    The search for Jimmy Hoffa has stretched far and wide for nearly 40 years. Now, federal agents are digging in a field 30 miles north of Detroit in hopes of solving the mystery of his disappearance.
    A team of agents descended on a field in northern Oakland Township, Mich., on Monday after a former Mafia underboss said Hoffa’s remains were buried there, NBC affiliate WDIV reported.

    Think of the anti-climax when they find his bones, eh? And all the Monday morning quarterbacking that will occur.

    It will be like when they found the remains of the Titanic

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  19. Julie Robinson said on June 17, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    What a marvelous recharge that trip sounds like! I’m envious of everything except the actual fishing, although I remember that rainbow trout are a big fishing deal to many.

    When I find mistakes that are big, obvious, and easily checked, I lose respect and trust for the author and publisher. It’s amazing how frequently I see University of Indiana, which does not exist; the school in Bloomington is Indiana University. Don’t publishers have software that picks up those kinds of mistakes?

    4 1/2 hours. That made me chuckle, as I could picture it vividly!

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  20. Joe K said on June 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Spent the weekend in D.C. Ran from the hotel to the White House early Saturday morning! Wanted to see if Barack could come out and run but they wouldn’t let me in, ran over to the Lincoln memorial ran up the steps and said hi to Abe. Then ran to the wall, stopped by the statue of the 3 soldiers but went no farther, figured it wasn’t respectful to run by it so I just looked from afar, don’t know anyone on it but choked up anyway, ran by the Washington monument and down by the air and space then. Circled back past the ww-2 and Korea memorials, around miles 5 total and a great way to see stuff at 7 am when the place is silent and empty.
    Pilot Joe

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  21. Basset said on June 17, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Noticed that owl or whatever it was decoy on the right immediately after I posted… otters are even worse than the birds, they will completely clean out a pond and move on to the next one.

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  22. brian stouder said on June 17, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Well, once again the most important airplane in the whole world (to me) should go in about 1/2 hour…


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  23. Prospero said on June 17, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    I will pretty much read anything set in Boston and love movies and TeeVee shows that are set in Greater Boston. The Verdict is a great Boston movie with one terribly annoying error. When Newman and his buddy get the name of the nurse who witnessed the malpractice, they say she lives in Arlington, which is several miles inland, to the West of Boston, When they get to her front door, it’s a neighborhood of three-families, on a steep hill with the ocean at the foot of the hill. That’s maybe Southie or Dahchestah, maybe even Quincy, but it sure as hell isn’t Arlington. Didn’t entirely ruin the movie for me, but close. Really a stupid mistake.

    Those are some impressively large trout. The trout in their pond remind me of Grandfather Trout, in John Crowley’s Little, Big.

    “Love is a myth,” Grandfather Trout said. “Like summer.”
    “In winter,”Grandfather Trout said, “summer is a myth. A report, a rumor. Not to be believed in. Get it? Love is a myth. So is summer.”

    ― John Crowley, Little, Big

    ROGirl@5: SyFy Channel original: Megatrout Swarm.

    Brian@18: Or like Jerry Rivers and Capone’s secret vault.

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  24. Dave said on June 17, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    I’ve read plenty of the Amos Walker books but am blissfully unaware of Detroit geography. I wasn’t aware that he was so loose with the facts but I do remember reading his fictionalized account of Wyatt Earp and disagreeing with much of it.

    We’re going away for a weekend in July without ‘net access. I’m sure we’ll be able to tough it out.

    Pros, are the Spenser books in Boston reasonably accurate?

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  25. Brandom said on June 17, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    alex @10

    “Puna” in Hawaiian can mean “spring (of water)”


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  26. brian stouder said on June 17, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    LAMary – very cool (and eclectic!) collection of photos at the end of the last thread, regarding Zagis.

    If you flew one of those over a Tea Party rally, the whole stupid herd would probably stampede – thinking that the Obama administration has about to kill them with a drone strike!

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  27. Deborah said on June 17, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Tomorrow we’re painting our front door a color called Raspberry Wine, we got permission from our landlady to do so. Basically she loves us and lets us do whatever we want because we’re improving the property. The door currently is a dull dark brown. We noticed that the other doors in the complex are all different so there was no precedent for them all being the same dull brown. We are in a historic district of Santa Fe so the color has to be OK with that, and it seems to be. We got a chaise lounge and a small side table for the side yard, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted and today we found a hammock and stand on sale that I wish I had gotten instead. I love hammocks. Nothing better than reading a book in a hammock.

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  28. Prospero said on June 17, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Yeah, Robert Parker is pretty careful about geography in the Spenser books, even about Cape Cod and the Berkshires. Even the televised version was accurate. The interiors in The Verdict, outside the courtroom, were shot in the Massachusetts State House. Nobody in the Spenser books ever calls the Public Garden Gardens, nor Boston Common Commons, two things that drive people in Boston crazy, like pronouncing the “c” in Quincy as an alveolar fricative “s” instead of a soft “z”.Anybody with a noirish or pulpish bent that wants to “get” Boston would do better with George V. Higgins, who is a far better writer than Parker, though I think Parker is a hoot, and Hawk is the greatest sidekick besides Lord Bowler and Watson (I haven’t seen Johnny Depp’s Tonto yet).

    I’m a fan of Julia Stiles. Beautiful, intelligent actor, almost the equal of the totally inimitable Franka Potente in the Bourne movies. One of my sisters in law suggested this Youtube web series called Blue. Episodes run in the vicinity of 10 minutes apiece. It’s about a single mother with a secret life as a hooker. Exceptionally well-written and acted. The show is extremely good.

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  29. brian stouder said on June 17, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Well, there might possibly be one thing – but, we quibble!

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  30. brian stouder said on June 17, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    (referring to Deborah’s comment Nothing better than reading a book in a hammock.)

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  31. Sherri said on June 17, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    In honor of my daughter’s high school graduation tonight at 8 pm at Key Arena in Seattle, here’s a collection of graduation pictures: http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2013/06/graduation_season_2013.html

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  32. brian stouder said on June 17, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    Sherri – marvelous photographs; very good stuff!

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  33. brian stouder said on June 17, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    …and congratulations to your daughter!

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  34. Deborah said on June 17, 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Great photos, Sherri, congrats to your daughter.

    Prospero mentioned the upcoming movie The Lone Ranger, which I’m interested to see, some of it was filmed around here and from the trailers it looks like some of it may have been filmed in Abiquiu too. Johnny Depp has been seen around town a lot, I’ve never seen him but the papers have been reporting him at various restaurants and hotels for months. Monument Valley is visible in the trailers and Moab, Utah, love those places. They are having a bunch of promotions for the movie in Santa Fe and they say that the place is crawling with press for the promo events.

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  35. Hattie said on June 17, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Sounds blissful.

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  36. Prospero said on June 17, 2013 at 6:58 pm

    Happy new door day Deborah. Raspberry wine sounds like something we drank too much of Down Cypress Avenue:


    Get the fracking Brits the hell out of Belfast.

    It’s a chaise l’ongue. Just one of my many editorial heebie jeebies, and no criticism intended. Long chairs, like that bizarre Mad Men scene where Mr. High Colonic seduced mindless Betty Driver over that fainting couch. And They killed Kenny. Well, Kenny got Cheneyed. How did Dickless get away with that? Drunk as the Lord he mistakeny thinks he is based upon his anal abcesses. Pretty common malady of lying bastard chicken-hawks.

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  37. Prospero said on June 17, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    And It Stoned Me. best version of all time. Where does Van find all these sax players. This reggae/ska version is ridiculously wonderful.

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  38. Prospero said on June 17, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    I think Johnny Depp is a good actor.

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  39. Prospero said on June 17, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I think that in Bennie and Joon, Johnnie Depp played the nicest guy in human history. But, ya know, I would have melted at such a wondrous girl as Joon. Maybe she’s Kiera Schipka. At some level, I believe Mary Stuart Masterson is the ultimate of female beauty. And when she beats hell out of that wife-beater, and drownds his treachorous ass, she is doing the Lord’s work.

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  40. Prospero said on June 17, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Sherri. Big ups to your daughter. Or I don’t. It is Diana Rigg or Mary Stuart Masterson. That woman rocks.

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  41. Prospero said on June 17, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Both those women rock bigtime.

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  42. Brandon said on June 17, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    25.Brandom said on June 17, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    I flubbed typing my name and just saw it now.

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  43. Deborah said on June 17, 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Actually raspberry wine sounds like something vile to drink. In the UK we went to Charleston to see the house that Virginia Wolfe and her sister Vanessa Bell (and other Bloomsbury Group members) lived in during the war, there was a farmers market across the road where we bought provisions for a picnic to have on the lawn of the house. They had various wines made from local berries and we bought a bottle to have with our lunch. It was sickeningly sweet, tasted like cough medicine, horrible. Here’s a link to the house, well worth a visit http://www.charleston.org.uk. That and Sissinghurst gardens (Vita Sackville West) are spectacular. Both are Bloomsbury destinations if you are so inclined like I am.

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  44. Deborah said on June 17, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Woolf not Wolfe

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  45. basset said on June 17, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Neither a live heron nor a live owl would sit still while a human was that close to them… don’t know how that got by me.

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  46. Brandon said on June 18, 2013 at 12:00 am

    @Deborah, I wonder if berry wines were an improvisation during the war, given the various food shortages.

    It was sickeningly sweet, tasted like cough medicine, horrible.

    Funny you should mention cough syrup:

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