Change is in the air

The coronavirus has changed us all to a certain extent.
At this shocking time in our country’s history, we can’t live our lives the way we normally would or the way we wish we could. The little things in life we never gave a second thought to, such as coming and going and doing as we please, are now mostly off limits.
But, the crisis has also brought out the good in people. And, creativity as well.
Last week, one of the neighbors in our condo association, Lisa, emailed members that her significant other would be turning 50 on the 26th. Because of COVID-19, the plans they had to celebrate Paul’s birthday were rearranged.
So, Lisa hatched a plan to invite everyone in the association to gather in the road or driveway in front of their condo, using the 6-foot social distancing rule of course! Her request was simple: Sing Happy Birthday to Paul at 6:30. Lisa said she would manage to keep him away from the window until that time since she wanted it to be a surprise.
Lisa also stated she would tie a few balloons on nearby mailboxes, plus have some chalk art on the road and driveway when he returned home about 6 p.m.
As the clock inched toward 6:30, I crossed the road to meet neighbor, Leslie, and her husband, Jim. Others also began to flock toward Paul and Lisa’s condo. At the appointed time, we all joined in and raised our voices (and some their drinks) with the Happy Birthday lyrics as Paul and Lisa stepped outside.
The look on Paul’s face was one of surprise (she really did pull it off), and joy!!!
Afterward, we visited in celebratory fashion while following the rule to keep our distance.
It was a moment in time we will all remember… one small gesture to help make our neighbor’s 50th a birthday he isn’t likely to forget!!!


'Bully Boy' is back!!!

Our snowbird has returned from a balmy winter. Last fall was the second year he left La Crosse for points south.
Depending upon the weather, It takes him anywhere from a few days to several weeks to head south, and again for his return trip. Why does the weather cause such a variance in his travel time? Because our snowbird happens to be a robin.
We have lived in the same country setting for six years. Last spring was the first time “the bully” showed up to dine on the ripened fruit from our crab apple tree. The apples give the birds energy, especially if they are continuing on their flight to points north. The previous four years robins came in flocks and munched in peace until the tree was picked bare.
Not anymore!!! Bully Boy has already staked his claim. The second another bird drops in for, what is in his mind an uninvited meal, Whoosh!!! Bully Boy swoops in to chase it away and save the day!
Our tree is loaded with crab apples, so there are plenty to go around. But ol’ Bully Boy has taken the tree captive for yet another spring.  
There is no way to stop The Intimidator. In fact, he tries to stop US!! If we go outside for any reason, look out!! Here. He. Comes!! He takes a beak-dive straight at us to get just close enough with a less-than-gentle reminder to steer clear of “his” territory!
As other robins pass through our area headed for their summer destination, the tree comes alive with so many robins it resembles a magnified busy bees’ nest. Yet, Bully Boy doesn’t let his guard down. He does his best to ward them off.
Last spring, at the height of it all, our yard resembled a war zone with The Intimidator continually diving and chasing others in the air and on the ground! It was then when the Outdoors Guy and I actually started feeling sorry for the poor thing. He was so overworked chasing others away, we wondered how he had time to eat any apples himself!!!
Yet, as each new day dawned, there he was… and is today, the lone robin perching in the crab apple tree, the neighbor’s tree, on a rock below the tree, or on our rooftop… ready… waiting…
It looks like it will be another interesting spring at “the tree.” In the meantime, I’m wondering… did his mom not teach him to share… OR… can bird brains have mental illness???!!!

Happy anniversary Outdoors Guy!!!!!

Today marks 4.5 years since The Outdoors Guy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on May 8, 2015.
Against enormous odds, not only has Bob survived, he has thrived, making the most of the precious time God has granted him on this earth. He continues to enjoy life to the fullest each and every day.
We are thankful to those of you who have remembered him in your prayers. Also through our readers, we know of others enduring the trials of cancer or other illnesses and we pray for them as well.
On May 5, 2020, The Outdoors Guy will reach a critical stage in his recovery.
Patients who undergo a successful Whipple procedure may have a 5-year survival rate of up to 25%.
However, if you followed Kathy’s Korner during Bob’s ordeal, you know the Whipple procedure, attempted on Jan. 22, 2016, at Mayo Clinic-Rochester, was unsuccessful.
When Bob’s surgeon, Dr. Mark Truty, (pictured) began the procedure, he encountered something he had never seen before. Bob’s entire abdominal cavity was covered with scar tissue from colon surgery he had in 1989. Dr. Truty said scar tissue doesn’t show up on CT scans or laproscopy.
He told us the scar from that surgery was not very large. So, he was shocked to see scar tissue covering The Outdoors Guy's abdominal cavity. It had adhered to just about everything.
He told us, "When I touched the scar tissue, it was falling apart like wet tissue paper, and trying to work through the scar tissue was causing bleeding."
He said just by removing a portion of the scar tissue from the bowel, it caused enough bleeding that he had to resect the bowel.
Dr. Truty was unable to proceed with removing the tumor through the Whipple procedure.
"I felt if I attempted to continue with the procedure, I would lose him," Dr. Truty remarked.
Yes, our family was extremely disappointed the surgery couldn’t be completed as planned. Later though, we learned of Dr. Truty's world famous reputation and how we were so thankful Mr. Outdoors had the best of the best, one who recognized the monumental risk of continuing with the surgery and wasn't willing to take it.
At that time, we still received some good news from Dr. Truty. He believed, in all likelihood, the tumor was dead or nearly dead.
Dr. Truty told us, "I could not feel the tumor, only the impression of where it had been."
Since then, The Outdoors Guy has been following a regimented schedule of CT scans, lab work and tumor marker tests. At first, testing was done every three months. Now it is done every six months.
Up to this point, there has been no sign the tumor has returned and his tumor marker number continues to remain very low.
He is due for testing again in January and then again May... yes, the critical 5-year mark. We haven’t forgotten the 25% survival rate is only for those who have had a successful Whipple procedure.
According to Mayo’s website, “About 50,000 people are diagnosed with pancreatic cancer each year in the U.S. Historically, only about 7 percent of pancreatic cancer patients have lived at least five years after diagnosis.”
Needless to say, The Outdoors Guy has far-exceeded expectations!!!
If, through more testing in May, it is discover the tumor has returned, Bob could receive a different chemo treatment than he previously had. Dr. Truty also suggested 4.5 years ago that there may be additional options down the road, if necessary.
“Advances such as the CA 19-9 test, and improved chemotherapy, radiation and surgical techniques are improving survival odds for many patients,” Dr. Truty said.
I will update you with the results of The Outdoors Guy’s May 2020 testing. And again, thank you for keeping him in your prayers!!!
In the meantime, he still has more backwoods to explore, more fishing, hunting and golfing to do, and way more time to spend with the kids and grandkids!!!!
Happy anniversary, Bobby. We're with you every step of the way!!!

"Jesus replied, 'What is impossible with man is possible with God.'” Luke 18:27


Out-hunting The Outdoors Guy

I gotta have a little fun with The Outdoors Guy once in awhile.
I’m serious when I tell you he can’t seem to find anything unless it’s right in front of his nose… and even then he usually can’t see it!!!
Just read on… I promise, in the end, it will all make sense!
The Outdoors Guy had his trail cam in our lower level window for two weeks hoping to get a few shots of deer passing by our condo.
Then, a couple weeks ago he took it down and put it in his workshop.
In the meantime, we ordered him a new desk chair for his study since the old one has been shedding like a Siberian husky!!
While waiting for the delivery, he remembered he had changed out the original casters on his current chair to a heavy-duty set. So, off he goes… downstairs looking for those casters. He looked high and low, but couldn’t come up with them and thought maybe he had gotten rid of them.
It was hard to hide the smirk on my face, and I didn’t say a word…. but I knew I could find those wheels!
Later that day, when he left for the boathouse. I practically did a wheelie wasting no time making tracks downstairs in my quest for the missing casters.
“Let’s see,” I thought to myself. “If I was The Outdoors Guy, where would I have put those wheels?”
I zeroed in on a long row of shelving. The first set has mostly paint and some of my things, so I skipped to the next set, containing mostly books.
“Nope, I thought, it’s not gonna be here.”
Then, turning my attention to the third set, I scanned the top two shelves. Hmmm. No wheels. The bottom shelf holds an extra-long tool box that our youngest son, Evan, made for his dad in high school shop class. They weren’t in there. But, next to it sat the trail cam.
At first I thought the casters wouldn’t, couldn’t possibly be on that shelf because The Outdoors Guy had just put the trail cam there two weeks before. Nevertheless, I looked.
Well! Wonder of wonders, DIRECTLY BEHIND THE TRAIL CAM, IN PLAIN VIEW, was a clear plastic bag containing the casters!! My little hunt took me all of three minutes!!!
I snatched the casters up like a cat who had just swallowed the canary, tore up the stairs and strategically placed the bag on the kitchen counter so The Outdoors Guy would spot them as soon as he got home.
Later, I heard the door open. Then, “Wheeeere did you find THESE??!!!”
Walking into the kitchen with a smuggy ear-to-ear grin, I took the “GREAT HUNTER” downstairs and showed him where the wheels were.
“No way!! I was just down there putting away my trail cam a couple weeks ago,” he griped.
“Well… the bigger question here is how do you manage to find your way out of the woods all these years when you can’t find something you put on a shelf that’s right in front of your eyes?!!!”
Let’s just say I’m dang glad I couldn’t understand his mumbled response!!!
Yes, it’s the little things in life!! Plus, sometimes it’s really fun to be Mrs. Outdoors!!!

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A labor of love

It’s a tradition.
Fall in our household signals it's time for The Outdoors Guy to pay a visit to a local farmer where he buys butternut squash… lots of it!!! He usually buys about 25 pounds, netting him around 15 pounds of cooked squash.
He took this labor of love upon himself about 10 or more years ago. Needless to say, it has become his fall tradition.
The Outdoors Guy’s work doesn’t take place in our kitchen. Absolutely not!!!! This is a job he loves to do in one of his favorite spots… our garage. Thank goodness, at least he disinfects his work bench before the day begins!!! Still, I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting it would pass State of Wisconsin Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection standards!!
Once home, Bob brings his dad’s, Ray’s, old electric cooker up from the basement shelf and his labor of love begins.
It takes about a day’s worth of work, beginning with cutting the squash in half, scooping out the seeds and chopping each squash into 4-5 sections.
Next, the cooking begins. The Outdoors Guy empties one bottled water into the cooker and adds about 10-12 pieces of squash, depending upon their size. Each batch takes approximately 30 minutes to reach just the right consistency. Then, the next batch is put into the cooker. As it cooks, Bob allows time for the previous batch to cool. Once cool enough to handle, he scoops the squash out of the skin into a large bowl, mashes it and adds butter. This process continues throughout the afternoon.
Meanwhile, the wonderful fall aroma fills the kitchen each time he opens the door.
When the last batch is cooked, he carries the huge bowl, filled with the orange, velvety squash, into the kitchen. Then it’s my turn to lend a helping hand. I have quart-size freezer bags already labeled. The kitchen scale and several utensils are on standby. Together we scoop and fill each bag to 16 ounces, press out the air and place the finished products into our freezer.
Now our family can look forward to a winter’s worth of squash ready to heat and eat. It is especially scrumptious for our Thanksgiving feast!!
Bob could easily go out and buy a fancy new cooker that might make his annual ritual a little easier and quicker. Yet, each fall, when he pulls out that old cooker with the by-hand scribed “Ray Lamb” on the inside cover, a new model just wouldn’t do. There is also another self-inscribed "Ray Lamb" on the outside of the cooker.
No doubt keeping the old model is well worth it because I know Bob is flooded with memories of the years he watched or helped his dad, who passed away 22 years ago, use the old cooker to prepare wild game and other dishes while they enjoyed each others company.
A labor of love can come in many different forms. For the Outdoors Guy, it is his fall ritual… a date with an old cooker that still tugs at his heartstrings each time he lifts the cover to prepare yet another batch of his savory squash!!!

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