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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mrs. Sigfreed My High School Algebra Teacher

Mrs. Sigfreed My High School Algebra Teacher 03 04 2010

Mrs. Sigfreed was my High School Algebra teacher. I struggled with the algebra equation X over Y equals A over B, with some numbers in place of some of the letters. For the first time in my life I might not have passed a class. I could not grasp this. So with a great blow to my pride I needed to be tutored, and luckily the tutor was Mrs. Sigfreed, one in the same.

So I was required to stay after school and be tutored in algebra. There were three of us that were tutored in that class after school. Kenny a bratty mean only child and Wayne a black kid who probably had a mental problem, I say this because he would groan loudly in class to be disruptive and annoying. But Mrs. Sigfreed identified him and yelled at him and he didn't do any more after that.

Mrs. Sigfreed sat real close to me. I could smell her breath while I tried to understand. Her breath wasn't too bad. Kenny was seated on the other side of the room, and opportunistically he would say snotty mean bratty things to me, in the quiet room after school.

X over Y equals A over B with some numbers substituted in place of some of the letters. I could not understand it. Maybe I had briefly once but then lost the concept.

"I can't get it." I said on the verge of weakness.

With a stern voice she said, "Yes you can."

I tried some more to think X over Y equals A over B.

On the verge of crying from shame I had to admit to her, "I don't think I am going to be able to understand this."

"You can too." She said in a stronger stern voice and turned her head the other way incidentally in the direction of the envying eyes of Kenny.

All of a sudden it came to me. I understood it, how the equation worked. I kept the learning with me all the way home and reviewed it later that night, with a sense of pride and elation.

X over Y equals A over B with some numbers in place of three of the letters. Multiply the diagonal parts together and the part the part with the letter now attached to it, divide the other side by the part next to the letter, and the equation is solved. You have the value for the single letter.

I had learned the basis of Algebra, if I could do this I could learn the rest of it I said to myself.

Copyright 2010 Thomas Paul Murphy

Self Test, For Dating?

Self Test, For Dating?

Look at yourself in the mirror. Look at your face. Look yourself in the eyes. Who do you see? How long can you look yourself in the eye? Do you see yourself as ugly? Do you look like Brittany Spears, would you like to? Who would you rather see? Can you accept what you see? If there is someone else you would rather look like and you know them, how do you treat them? If you do not like what you see in the mirror do you project that hatred on those whom you would rather look like? Are you possessed because of your hatred of your own self image? Do you think it is healthy for you to hate in this manner and what do you hope to accomplish by doing so? Are you really looking for acceptance from those who “look” better?

How long can you maintain your unacceptance or yourself and the projection of your negative self image on others you are jealous of? Why is this important to you?

Can you present yourself confidently as you, with all faults?

Can you present yourself confidently as yourself for the good deeds you’ve done and the good person inside that are you? Have you done more good deeds than bad? Do you rather do good than bad?

If you are not physically beautiful, can you respect yourself and your health anyway? Can you maintain a healthy lifestyle in terms of exercise? Can you respect others, or would you rather be jealous and try and destroy their self image to the point that they like themselves about like you do you?

If you are not physically beautiful can you strive to develop and inner beauty that you can accept and love? Would you always revert back to how you and others see your physical self? You cannot overcome how they see you until you can overcome how you see you and accept yourself.

Or are you the beautiful and rare Cinderella whose ugly sisters oppressed?

If you know you are hot do you lord this over others, with the intent to create a negative self image in them? Have you tried to develop other “side” or skills that don’t rely on your looks but for example creative aspects? And conversely if you know you are ugly do you also try to create a negative self image in those you are jealous of? Does it make you feel good to destroy the self image of others, is this what possesses you- to be something you cannot and not accept yourself?

Who do you most look for approval…what type of people are these who you look for approval from?

Cinderella do you accept how others have cast you, as too pretty to be smart? Have you conformed to and adopted your sisters or brothers behavior. If they have projected their insecurities on you, do you go out into the world and do the same “Fem Fatal”?

What kind of approval makes you feel best? Who do you seek approval from and why?

Those who have projected their negative self image on you and you have overcome will hate and despise you lividly! J

Copyright 2010 Thomas Paul Murphy

A Closed Mouth Can't Be Fed O'Rings

A Closed Mouth Can’t Be Fed O’Rings
On October 4th 2007 our car blew the intake manifold gasket and white smoke was venting out the tailpipe. We called to have it towed and a flat bed truck hauled it to the dealer.
There were a few things wrong with the repair. For instance the new fuel filter I had them install at the same time leaked. So I took it back and had them correct it and ended up writing a strongly worded business letter to them.
The new black plastic intake manifold that looked like a covered wagon they put on was an expensive repair. I had them save the parts for me so that I could take them home and look at them and learn. The black intake manifold looked the size of a small poodle. All it really needed was four feet a tail and head with some ears to look abstractly funny. The greasy thing sat outside for three months before I took it in the basement to clean the crud off of it in the washroom sink. I scrubbed It some and after not getting it satisfactorily cleaned after awhile ended up putting it in a 6 gallon bucket of hot water with washing soda to sit for just the right amount of time to dissolve the grease. I put a lid on the bucket in case I had to do something else before I could get back to it. It sat there over winter until I begrudgingly emptied the water and gave it a scrape and rinse and decided to set it outside in the hopes that the sun and oxidative properties outside might lesson my burden. I guess my hope was that if it sat out there awhile that perhaps haphazardly someday I might find some proper appendages for it.
Anyhow my mother was driving to her sister’s house in Iowa during the summer of 2008 when about forty miles into the some 400 mile trip the check engine light went on. She stopped at my sister’s house along the way where my brother in law checked it and said the oil and water were good. He thought it might be a code like the one that comes on in his car that tells him the catalytic convertor comes on at which interval he has a friend at a shop just erase it with the computer.
When she safely got home with the car home I checked the code with a reader I bought from a discount online hardware store some time ago. The code read two instances of P0401 which pertained to a low flow EGR problem. I researched the problem and went to the local auto parts store and put one in. Part of my rational for purchase was that an EGR valve recirculates unburned hydrocarbons back into the engine thereby providing for cleaner emissions and better mileage. Anyhow it was a relatively simple procedure, disconnect the negative battery terminal, gently pry back the retaining clip to the wiring harness and pull straight up, then loosen the two nuts on the threaded valve posts that hold the EGR valve on the surface to be cleaned where the old gasket for it was…
However the next time I took the car out on a good highway trip the check engine light came on again after about 40 miles and it turned out to be the same code. I proceeded to clean the tubes to it thinking there might have been something I missed before, but they were already clean.
So after awhile I called the dealer and told them that I had a specific code P0401 that I needed diagnosed. They quoted me a price for which they would diagnose that problem and said that I could come in promptly that afternoon. I took it in and told the service writer the very specific problem and asked to talk to the mechanic before he worked on it. He gets tired of my questions tells me that I can wait in the waiting room and ostensible holds the phone to his ear. I sat there for little bit and then missed that opportunity to talk to the mechanic freehand when I told the service writer that I was going to get lunch and went to a grocery store across the street and bought a half pound of chicken wings mild, four potato spears and a carbonated soft drink which I brought back to the dealer and ate in the lounge.
While I was sitting in the waiting room eating my greasy feast I started talking to a salesman from the place. I believe there are profound things to learn from everything you do in life. In response to something I said to him he said to me, “My mother always told me, a closed mouth can’t be fed.” This has always been my policy too, but I had never heard it stated so succinctly.
When I was called back to the service writer he told me that it was the PCV valve. And that he got a different code on his machine than the one I had to just mention. I asked to talk to the mechanic. He told me it was missing an O-ring. They usually don’t go anywhere as per my understanding when they are in a post and socket configuration. I told him that the reason I brought the car in was for the other code. He told me my code was dependent on feedback from the O2 sensor which monitors exhaust gases in terms of engine efficiency and the map sensor which monitors manifold pressure which I thought might be related to the PC valve (which stands for positive crankcase ventilation) and the vacuum system.
The valve sits in a collared hole on the left side of the black plastic intake manifold which looks to me like the canvas canopy of a covered wagon from the old west. Incidentally I was wearing my cowboy hat all that day. The PCV valve is held onto the manifold by a plus or minus 1/8 turn locking plastic fixture.
Before I left the dealer I asked if the service writer if he could look in his computer and see if a pc valve was put in at the 2007 work, knowing full well that I had put one in at some time. He slightly reluctantly did and proudly told me no.
I then went to pay the cashier and explained to them, “You know that is not the specific code I brought this car in for the one I mentioned that you said you would diagnose for today’s fee.” I added is there any kind of warranty on this work considering that what I brought it in for , the code that I mentioned when I called might not have been diagnosed like I was told it was. The guy told me something to the effect of 12 months or so many miles on the work they did. Whereby another cashier abruptly and quickly said, “Mind if I interject?” The word “interject” would ring true with me until my next visit with them, and I allowed her to “interject”. “She told me that I should not have erased the code.” I told her that, “I can erase the code if I write it down and still know what it is.”
The mechanic printed me a chart per my code and brought to me at the cashier and we talked some more.
Anyhow another guy is paying through a third cashier, and the guy I’m talking with offers him a cookie. In a few moments when it came my turn to pay he did not offer me a cookie so I asked, “Aren’t you going to offer me a cookie too.” And he in turn offered me my choice of sugar or sugarless. Which I happily took and walked to my car.
I go to the car and see that it is not washed as was usually the case with service work performed and that I had asked them if they would when I brought the car in earlier that day and they said they were going to. So they did.
I go home with the car and it runs a lot smoother than it has in the last ten months. So I go to my meticulous records for the car which I keep on a spreadsheet and see that I did indeed put the PC Valve in, in 2006. I then go outside to look at the engine, and see that there is no way that you can put a new intake manifold in like they did in 2007 without reinstalling the PC valve. By the way the PC Valve housing on the manifold somewhat resemble an “Injector” to me.
I call the dealer and ask to speak with the manager, and got the part owner who professed to not know anything mechanical about cars. I somewhat strongly explained it was their fault and he told me he would talk to his service manager and they would call me back.
I went outside to clean the mess of tools and stuff I had made and while doing so go the phone call from the service manager. He told me that that was an aftermarket part and they don’t service them. I thought to myself I did not pay you to put my car back the wrong way. I then told him that there was no way that you could install an intake without reinstalling the PC Valve which was contrary to what he said to me. He told me that’s all one unit and blah, blah, blah. He argued some more and I said rather loudly, they could hear me from the tennis courts across from my garage phone. “There is no way you couldn’t have!” I then decided to go for more evidence to complete my visual picture at which point I said, “Can you wait a minute.” I walked out of the garage and onto the deck grabbed my $1570.00 appendage less poodle, covered wagon, warped intake manifold or whatever you call it. I take a quick look at it before I head back to the phone. The PC Valve O-ring was still in it. You know the one that should have been put back in the new intake properly and non-negligently upon the costly repair in 2007. With the Manifold in my left hand I marched back to the phone shaking livid mad and told him. “The one you took off in 2007 is in my left hand and the PC Valve O-ring is still in it and I want my money back!”
He told me that I would have to bring it in and I argued that I shouldn’t but decided to agree and then thought I am going to tear back there and, and, and gently shove this, I mean set this on his desk for discussion.
I do so and explain it to him again and he says to me, “I am going to give you your money back but I want to know why the PC Valve code triggered now and not after three driving cycles like it should have. After I pause to ponder his question he adds,”So I know what to tell my customers if this happens again. I told him that I hadn’t touched the PC Valve after their repair work in 2007, which was indeed true. He asked me again and I said to him, “You guys are supposed to be the expert’s you tell me why that PC Valve code did not trigger since you reinstalled it in 2007.” At which point our we agreed on a joint analysis to the effect that maybe when the mechanic was doing his testing today he jostled something and maybe it loosed from its statically held in place status.
After a few more questions from me he stood up out of his chair and said we could go to the cashier now for a refund to my credit card. We did. I got my refund for the day’s work. And I decided not to ask the cashier for a cookie this time after he yet again did not offer me one.
He walked me to my car and I told him that if the P0401 code came on again I would consider us back at square one like I did today and bring it back in for diagnosis.
Copyright 2009 Thomas Paul Murphy

Beware the Ides of March 03 18 2009

Beware the Ides of March 3 18 2009

A nightly walk often reinvigorates the spirit. One spot I like to walk to Big Bay Park, on the shore of Lake Michigan. No matter how often you go the scene is never the same. Whether it is the color, reflection or surface of the lake or the cloud patterns as they combine with the sun or the seasonal color and texture of leaves. Something in the scenery is different as if a puzzle for the artistic mind.

About this time last year there were green circles of ice about two feet in diameter floating next to the pier. The waves were small that night and the motion of these emerald disks was a surreal moment as they churned and creaked. I wished I had brought my camera that time but hoped to see them again tonight and also determine if the pier was clear enough of ice to take a few casts with a fishing pole.

So it was with this anticipation that I walked the eight blocks from my house on the mid March night of 2009. I feel at home with nature and the breath of fresh air was well needed.

As I walked down the two sectioned scissors pattern ramp, I shone my flashlight every so often on the path to make sure no ice was approaching. I find it adventuresome not to have the flashlight on the whole time.

Half way down the lower portion of the walkway someone appeared from out of the blue at the base of the ramp where the stairs started. It was a woman and blurted out, “Can you help me find my bag?”

She looked like a ghost and startled me. Not hearing what she said I clarified, ”I didn’t hear you.”

She said, “Can you help me find my bag.”

It was about 8:30PM and I shone my beam at the base of the architectural brick wall and we saw her bag there not far from where she must have been standing before and she went to go get it.

Finding the situation strange I did not consider it rude to shine my flashlight up and down on her and then continually at her face. Her jeans looked a little sandy and wet. Under her hooded jacket her face was pale of emotion. Her bag was made of leather like a scooper with a big strap. She had a narrow frame maybe about a half a foot to a foot shorter than me and what looked to be strong hands.

It was just the two of us there in the dark and we started talking.

“Are you homeless?” I asked her.

She managed a chuckle and said, “No.”

She reached in her bag while gauging my reaction for weakness, but I had no fear of this cold stranger.

“What are you doing here?” she slurred.

“I wanted to check the pier and see if enough snow had melted so that it was safe to fish off of. You look like you fell in the lake.”

“I did.” She replied.

“Was it hard to get out?” I asked as I looked at the slippery ice banks.

“You bet it was.” She replied somewhat comically,

“You look cold, would you like me to call 911.”

“No. I have a car parked up on Oakland Avenue, maybe you could drive me there.” She replied vehemently with slurred speech again,

“I didn’t bring a car, but I can walk you to yours.”

It was obvious to me what went on, and I knew the risk that she posed. The pier was covered with high banks of ice. This year someone took the time to take some sand and spread it over the ice. I quickly and carefully walked out a little ways to see what it looked like, and try and determine how long it might take to melt. When I turned to look for her back at the base of the pier, she was not there. As I shone my light I saw she was halfway up the lower part of the walkway ramp.

She yelled, “Come on.” Running I caught up with her. She then continued, “You must be an angel to find me like you did.”

I might have replied with a self serving comment, but told her, “We should find the nearest house and ring the bell.”

“Those people won’t want to be bothered.” She told me.

“Where on Oakland are you parked?” I asked her, knowing that it could probably be as little as one block.

“By Walgreens.”

There are more than one Walgreens on Oakland so I asked, “You mean the one by Pick and Save south of Capital?”

“Yes.” she replied.

This was at least a mile to me, so I again asked, “Would you like me to call 911.”

“Maybe you could call me a cab.” She replied.

“You are strung out on something and I don’t think you’re safe to drive.” I told her. I found her alive and I intended to keep it that way and said, “My house isn’t too far maybe eight blocks from here. I can turn on the space heater and fix you a cup of chicory tea.”

So we started to talk on our way to my house. A few times she stumbled and swung her step out to compensate her step and keep from falling. I did not smell alcohol on her breath, if she had had some I would have known.

“What have you taken?” I asked her.

“Just some Xanax.” She told me nonchalant expression.

“How much did you take.” I sternly asked her.

She pursed her lips to think and replied in a discerning tone, “Maybe 5.”

“How much do you usually take?”

“Maybe two.”

“Have you ever done anything like this before.” I asked circumspectly.


I fell in the lake a mile out circa 1984 on Memorial Day weekend and swam to shore. I shook from the cold like I was being electrocuted when I reached shore. I know firsthand the dangers of hypothermia, so I kept my cool knowing the walk would help metabolize whatever she had taken and keep her blood circulating. As we walked I decided to keep her talking so as to gauge her cognitive state. She was quite coherent.

She was in middle aged and lost her husband to cancer several years ago. She had worked in the health care industry but was unemployed now. She was of similar nationality to me.

“You are a lifesaver.” She said.

“When I was young and in college I went up north with two friends for a drinking trip. I became alone and lost in the woods. I was drunk and climbed the tallest tree so that I could look down and see in which direction the cabin might be in. And that way I did indeed find the cabin. That’s where you are now.”

When we got to my house the door was locked and oddly enough I did not have my keys. I rang the bell.

My mom opened the door and I introduced her to her.

Once inside my house I put some old jackets on a chair in the living room and then had her sit down. I then aimed the quartz heater at her and found two blankets one of wool and one of fleece. I went into the kitchen and threw a cup of water in the microwave for two minutes and filled a tea strainer full of ground roast chicory which I knew would help detoxify her. I also quickly grabbed and polished a golden delicious apple from the bag in the wicker basket.

I brought the hot tea to her on a plate with the apple and went upstairs to get some dry clothes. Grabbing a pair of warm ups, some big knit socks and a red fleece UW pullover. I had her change in the bathroom. She took what seemed to be the longest time. I knocked on the door to make sure she was not passed out on the floor several times and she wasn’t.

“I’m going to look in on you now.” I finally said.

“I’m coming out.” She replied.

When I opened the door I saw her trying to tidy up any sand on the sink. It made me sad that she would worry about that after what she had been through.

We talked for about an hour and a half and her speech was not getting too much better.

“How long do you think it will take for the Xanax to wear off?”

“It usually takes four hours.”

As we talked my modus operandi was to try and direct the conversation so as to develop new interests for her; to give her something hopeful to think about. In the future it might rekindle latent artistic or creative interests in her. People need interests and hobbies, something other than themselves to think about, to be creative of themselves. To me an artist is someone who puts something of themselves into, for lack of a better term their creations. When I look at art I do not see the art but rather the character and being of the artist whom made it. Sometimes when I look into people’s eyes I see something relative to me. I saw this in her as I talked to her.

She did not want her braided black leather belt to stay in the red grocery bag with the wet clothes and rather suggestively put it on the coffee table, I made, between us.

“I made this laminated strip coffee table out of recycled wood. It has three hidden threaded rods that hold it together internally. I make things strong so that they cannot come apart.”

I showed her my 18”x24”s framed nature photographs hung on the walls of my living room and dining room. I showed the ones titled, “The Present of Autumn”, “The Rift”, “Two Geese”, “Light Pads”, “What the Tin Man Lost” and “Poised”

“You have an eye for photography.” She said as she seemed to stare at each one forever.

“The “Present of Autumn” was titled so because it was taken in the fall is has a red leaf in the upper right hand corner that looks like a package bow.” I said as I pointed.

I was tired of standing and we sat back down.
“How much do you want for that one.” She motioned to the “Present of Autumn” as she opened her wallet.

“I usually sell them off my website” I was more concerned about her than money and did not feel like making anymore picture frames.

As we talked, after awhile I looked at her opened V-neck and noticed she had a black tank top on underneath the dry fleece pullover I got her.

“You still have on a wet t-shirt under all that. You need to put on a dry base layer close to your skin.”

I got her one and she put it on in the bathroom again. The two jackets I placed on the chair where pretty wet. I removed them and became a little more concerned.

Getting a thermometer I took her temp. It was on the low end of the electronic thermometer but I had an inkling she was not holding it in her mouth as tightly as she could. I took it again and told her to put it way back under her tongue. She did not clamp down on it this time either but the reading was the same. I felt her hands and they were not as cold as I thought they would have been though.

“You are in danger of dying of hypothermia. Can I call 911.”

“Are you sure?”


“Who would come?” She willfully prolonged.

“I will be calling for the paramedics.”

“Maybe you could call the hospital and see what they say?”

Calling Columbia Emergency line and I spoke clearly and slowly, “I found a woman that feel in the lake and I brought her home to warm up and her temperature is 91.1 degrees. Is she in danger of dying from hypothermia?”

“Yes, she is.” The man replied.

“So I should call for an ambulance?”

“You need to do something about that.”

“Alright thanks.”

“You could die.” I said as I called 911.

Five or six paramedics arrived in the fire truck and one police officer in the squad.

Her face was now pale with fear as the paramedics sternly asked her questions as they are supposed to.

The paramedics poked her finger with something. I think I heard them mention some kind of metabolite. It looked like a blood sugar monitor to me. They also put what appeared to be a blood oxygen gauge on her finger and did not get a reading. I repeatedly asked them what her blood temperature was and they would not tell me. They assured me twice that she was in no danger of hypothermia.

It was then that the police officer started talking to her. He basically told her you can voluntarily commit yourself or we will forcibly take you. She told them that she was out of work and didn’t want to pay for it. Although she also said she had a health insurance, but could not produce and insurance card when asked.

She left with the whole gang voluntarily and gave me a big hug. I told her, “I want you to be well.”

People exposed to cold and drugs often have uncertain outcomes. I worried what happened to her throughout the first half of the next day, before I picked up the phone. Six phone calls later I was talking with her. Her speech was fast and articulate. She wasn’t cold and incidentally a little spiteful at me because she was at the hospital as a result of me calling 911.

Many judgment calls were made and the bottom line is that she is alive today. Everybody I talked to from the paramedics to the police tells me that I was a Good Samaritan and did the right thing, except for one neighbor who remarked before letting me tell the story, “I would have called the police right away.”

It is better to have one friend when you need them than have a thousand come to your funeral.

Copyright 2009 Thomas Paul Murphy

The Contiguous Dark Shores of Tichigan Lake 02 05 2009

The Contiguous Dark Shores of Tichigan Lake 02 05 2009

After surveying Southeastern Wisconsin Lake Map books for lakes in a southern direction from Milwaukee that might hold big Muskie’s, I decided to try Tichigan Lake. Tichigan was indicated to hold Muskie’s although the guy at the bait shop didn’t seem to think so. What attracted me to Tichigan was the fact that it was connected to the Fox River and therefore it might offer good scenery as well. To the West of the lake is what they call Tichigan Marsh, a shallow reservoir on the Fox River with very little shoreline development. The lake maps told me the bottom contour of Tichigan Lake was steep not far off from shore. I consider this type of structure to usually be good fishing and lakes with it do not seem to be as common in Southeastern Wisconsin.

The drive through the Southern Wisconsin region was more peaceful than I remembered when I hunted nearby lands as a teenager. A trip into nature is not really about catching fish or taking game, but more about being with nature.

Tichigan Lake was indicated to have three boat launch ramps, two off of Tichigan Road located on a peninsula structure and one accessible from upstream, through Tichigan Marsh, on the Fox River off of Bridge Road. Not able to find the ramps on the peninsula I hollered to some residents that were having a garage sale and asked where they were. It turns out the two Peninsula boat ramps were either closed or sold off per my discussion with them. So I left the peninsula with the boat and trailer attached to my car and headed for the more remote ramp upstream in the Fox River. This day trip was October 10th of 2008. It was one of those days where it’s warm during the day but when the sun drops it gets cold quickly.

The parking lot and the boat ramp were somewhat disjointed. To get to the boat ramp, one car at a time had to back down a single lane road that was lined with marsh on both sides. And to access the lake via this launch you would have to put the boat in tie it to the dock and drive back to park the car. That day the lot was filled but for one empty space.

The man who brought his boat out of the water before I put in had been duck hunting, I asked him if he had any luck and he gruffly said that he didn't.

Once launched the ride downstream on the Fox River was full of twists and turns through the cattail and marsh lined narrow channel of the river. The channel offered little in the way of navigational aids and was a very shallow sandy muck bottom with what sounded like a little gravel too. I say it sounded like because that is what it sounded like when my boat ran onto it. It is never a good sign that no matter how slow you go you are constantly kicking up silt off the lake bottom with the trailing vortex created by your propeller.

I had predetermined that if the day permitted I would fish the section near this boat ramp also. So I was not bothered too much by having to use the Fox River launch at this point of the lake.

The shallow Fox River feeds the left Tichigan Marsh and you travel down southward around a populated peninsula land mass and back up north to the deeper right Tichigan Lake. The lake has houses and cottages on the shoreline the left or west Tichigan Marsh ha

As the river opened up and widened out into the western Tichigan Marsh section. I ran aground of the bottom several times with my 14' Aluminum hulled Grumman.

From a distance I spotted white birds on a marsh Island structure. I approached slowly in water I knew was to shallow while being mindful to keep a safe distance so as not to disturb them or their habitat for they turned out to be a small flock of the rare and beautiful Trumpeter Swans.

I guess I have always had an appreciation of them, maybe I read a book on them in grade school and wrote a report or maybe it was because one of the musical instruments I tried to learn to play was the Coronet a "Trumpet" like instrument and that gave me a vague reference in my memory to research or something.

Viewing them from my boat I saw them as magnificent and austere. They are much larger in size than geese. To me the male’s white feathers symbolize the good protagonist, what I consider another rarity. I could see the feathers on the females as being an intricate mixture of light brown and rabbit fur colors.

I approached them from the north and bottomed out once again a safe distance from them so as not to disturb them. At this point I quietly and slowly reached for my favorite gun ever- my digital camera. And with a high sense of elation started shooting pictures of the swans preening from various angles. As endangered as they are I did disturb them by taking too many pictures or staying too long in that spot.

While taking pictures a boat with four adolescent boy's passed by on my eastern or port side at this time and I don't remember what I said to them, but I took a picture of them also to preserve my memory of the day's story. They had the reserved and suppressed mischievous looks on their faces as most teens do when their up to something, but they weren't.

Frustrated with how shallow this west marsh section was I decided to head for the deeper eastern section of the lake and best utilize my minnows there.

As I was motoring to the east side I caught up with a bigger boat that had launched before me. It had its motor at 35 degree tilt to avoid prop damage as it taxied through the shallows.

I easily overtook them with my shoulder blade tearing 30 year old 4 HP Evinrude Outboard. I was not racing; this was just one occasion where my smaller boat and motor could go faster.

As I calculate it, I had gone two miles from the boat launch when I came to the eastern section of the lake approaching from the south. My route from port could be graphically described as a fish hook hanging on the line with the barb pointing to the right side.

As I headed north into this section of the lake on the westward shore I passed two tight necked bays or pockets. One had what looked like a rope bridge suspended structure that went from one side of the shore of its inlet to its other. Upon a more focused look the bridge appeared to be a menacing looking structure of cables. A sign in the middle read "Private Property No Trespassing"

I thought to myself who is so arrogant and mean that they think they own that bay of water. As I understood it if I wanted to press the issue I am legally entitle to right of way there. But after seeing the Trumpeter Swans just a little while before, I was less in the mood for testing this kind of trouble. Past that the lake started to widen out. After motoring a bit out into the wider section I recognized the island I had planned to fish.

I had the most hits fishing off the gradual sloping bottom off the west side of the island. If I were to ever go back this is where I would fish.

I then proceeded to fish every structure on that eastern side of the Lake.

From the Island I made my way North on the east shore. The drop off was steep close to the shore. I didn't have much luck. From there I cruised up into the shallows farthest north, more to see what it looked like, rather than with the expectation of catching fish in those shallows.

Then I worked back down south along the peninsula shore where there was supposed to be two boat ramps. The bottom contour was more gradual sloping on this side.

Teenagers with spoiled voices were out in a water skiing boat dragging one of their hot-dogging brethren behind them noisily enough to give you an irritating all day headache. As they disrespectfully tore up the serenity of the place, to practice being a good curmudgeon when I get older, I yelled at them a few times. Uncharacteristic of me I have become profane to these types.

Having launched early mid day I figured I was on the water a good eight hours now and as night came the fishing would get better as it always does. I decided to fish a few more spots to use up my live bait.

I marked several fish in deep water on my SONAR as I traveled to the west shore of the Island where I had some prior action.

Starting to get the shivers I mounted aft and fore boat lights and fished in the darkness. I had several strong hits on a good sized sucker minnow suspended below a tennis ball sized bobber. I had purchased two of these 8” long minnows. Their mouth’s opening is orientated like a vacuum cleaner, to be able to suck stuff off the bottom as they swim.

There is a dilemma when fishing with bobbers and minnows and that is whether to choose to set the hook right away when the bobber goes down and risk a missed set or to wait until you think the bait might be far enough in its mouth for a more sure hook set. The risk to the latter is that if you wait too long the fish might sense the hook or line and spit the bait out. The summary of this analysis is that no good sized fish were caught.

I started to get cold enough to know that I had reached my limit and made the decision to head for port where I put in. I secured the boat as best I could. This entails pulling in both anchors, making sure hooks are secured to the rods and that the rods are placed to the side of the boat, out of the way. I then sat down on the stern bench seat and started the gas outboard.

I have always been proud of my capabilities and have strong self reliance. I usually have a general idea of the risks involved in what I do and a corresponding confidence that I can get myself out of just about any predicament.

Being well prepared, I was not apprehensive because I had strong lights, a pocket sized GPS that I had saved waypoints on, the most important waypoint being that of the boat ramp. Saving a waypoint is a way to put a temporary digital mark on the map of the GPS screen location to indicate where you are at certain point. They are usually designated by numbers but can also be symbols.

Anyhow it was pretty much pitch black on the lake now except for the starlight. Learning how to navigate by the stars is not a skill I want to learn.

Booting up my map based GPS I rounded the Peninsula on my way back to port. The GPS had a map of the lake on it and I started to travel to my marked off waypoints that would show my relative position on the lake with regard to its shoreline delineation.

When I took my third reading it indicated that I was square on top of the land mass Peninsula. Of course there is a series of roads on the peninsula and it is pretty much full of cottage sized houses also. All GPS’s come with the warning, “Not to be used as a navigational aid.” Dread is how I describe what I started to feel next as I realized that my GPS has "this" navigational limitation first hand.

As the pass opened into Tichigan Marsh there were no well lit houses on the shores to serve as meaningful landmarks. In effect no matter where you looked or shone the beam of your light all you saw was marsh structure indistinguishable from itself in all directions. The last thing I wanted to do was ground the boat out on that marsh island of Trumpeter Swans I was so awed by what seemed like eons ago. The potential cacophony and danger to both me and them was something no one should tempt to realize. I had no choice but to hug the right shore, using my compass now and what seemed to be unreliable GPS, and head in a northern vector. I would rather bottom out several times on the right than have a chance meeting or rendezvous with the Swans nesting somewhere to my port side. Port is the left side of a boat as it faces forward. It proved to test my nerves very well, a few times I grounded bottom and didn’t think I would get unstuck. In cases like this it's good to have the oars to use as bottom push poles. However a cold and long chaotic day will tend to sap your strength for even this.

Now being cold and tired I was disheartened as I could feel my kidney's start to ache and knew they were just about tapped out of adrenaline for the day. What I have come to sense as the start of exhaustion.

The process of getting back became one of backing the stuck boat off the bottom and vectoring a little to the left in hopes of deeper channel water, the discernment of which was a task even in the daylight.

Anyhow that two mile stretch back wasn't really as bad as I make it out to be. Once I found the channel of the Fox River it was actually deeper than the lake and the reverse course started to look more familiar. The boat launch waypoint on my GPS started to near. Navigating the river was easier because going forward you know the difference from the river in front of you and the cattails along the side as you shine your flashlight from side to side and forward. There was one bright light up on a pole that I had made a mental note of as a landmark when I launched and I navigated to it. Reaching the pier of the boat launch I tied my boat to its bastion. I stepped up on the pier and walked the road that led to the lot. The parking lot was quiet and completely vacant except for my car with boat trailer. Being the last one off the lake is no more a surprise to me than it always is every time I go fishing.


On January 9th 2009 I attended a lecture on Tichigan Lake by Jim Laganowski, a fishing guide. The Wisconsin Fishing Club sponsored the event.

Some things regarding the lake I thought worth mentioning:

1. Tichigan Lake named by the Indians translates into “Lake of the Dead”, and there are Indian mounds on the eastern shore.

2. Aside from being connected to the Fox River Tichigan Lake is also spring fed.

3. West of Tichigan Marsh there are hunting grounds. Arrowheads found there are made of a pliable chip rock not native to the area. It is thought that these Indians here traded with Indians all the way down in Arkansas.

Copyright 2009 Thomas Paul Murphy