Famous last words

How was your Easter Weekend? I hope it was wonderful, and you had the opportunity to spend precious time together with your loved ones.
Both of our “boys,” Jon and Evan, were with us along with daughter-in-law Sara, grandsons, Jackson and Bryson, and Evan’s fiance, Annie. Our two granddogs, Guinness and Bibi, joined us, as well.
Despite the weather not cooperating, we had a grand time. The guys went fishing at Ol' Tom's boathouse Friday afternoon, while Sara and I got in some “girl time” shopping.
Saturday the weather was just plain nasty. With winds gusting up to 45 mph, fishing was out of the question. So, the guys decided to check out JumpStart. Jackson and Bryson both had a fun time! Meanwhile, Sara and I skipped our regular haunts, went to a furniture store and poked around in a second-hand shop.
We had Easter dinner Saturday evening and then the guys went out to play baseball (with tennis balls) in the backyard. Grampa wasn’t allowed to play because the kids can get pretty rough. The young whipper snappers were afraid he’d get hurt.
The rest of us watched from the window for awhile. Then we settled in for a good gab session.
When the guys came inside, Jon looked like he was in some pain. We didn’t even have to ask what happened. Evan offered. He had hit the ball. Jon and 8-year-old Bryson both went for it in tandem and collided. Jon, attempting to protect Bryson from getting hurt, became the “fall” guy. He did a complete somersault, landing on the frozen tundra and injuring his rib. Mind you, this is the THIRD time Jon has injured the SAME rib!!! AARRGGHH!!!
We all were feeling his pain when Grampa chimed in with the same age-old sage advice he had given the boys so many times when they were growing up. It’s the exact promise his dad, Ray, used to dish out to him so many years ago.
“It’ll feel better when it quits hurting!!!” Grampa said.
Everyone, except Jon, groaned, rolled our eyes and laughed. Jon didn’t think it was all that funny.
It took me back to when Bob broke a rib and bruised a lung while rabbit hunting in 2013. In fact, I wrote a blog about it at the time.
Bob was standing on a log while he waited for his hunting buddies to flush some rabbits toward him so he could take photos.
When the rabbits came running toward him, Bob lifted his camera. As he did, he slipped on the snow and ice-covered log he was standing on. On his way down, he raised his shotgun in the air with the barrel pointing skyward to keep it from discharging when he landed. His concern was potentially shooting his buddies or himself.
Because his arms were in air, there was no way he could protect himself to ease the fall. He landed squarely on another log. He said at first he couldn't move or breathe.
Later, Bob remembered we had an ice storm a while before the snow storm. What he didn’t realize was there was still ice under the snow-covered log and was the slick reason why he fell.
He said, “Both feet went out from under me and I slid off that log like a greased pig."
If you’ve ever injured one or more ribs, you know it is a long, drawn-out healing process. You also know the pain is so intense, it's enough to make a grown man cry.
One thing is certain. When Bob was injured, if I had bestowed upon him his age-old advice, “It’ll feel better when it quits hurting,” there is no doubt, they would have been MY famous last words!!!

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A light in the darkness

Can you take another nighttime blog?
This one follows a more serious route.
Last week I awoke out of a deep sleep to total darkness. The clock radio was black, and the nightlight in the hallway wasn’t working. Except for a few stars twinkling in the sky, it was completely dark and silent.
Then, The Outdoors Guy woke up, too. We both got up, half stumbling over each other. I felt my way to my cell phone and switched it on. The time was 4 a.m. Then, I turned on its flashlight. That one little light made all the difference. Now I could see to flick on a couple of LED candles.
We checked two of our neighbors’ yard lights that are normally on overnight, but there was no sign of light coming from them or any of our other neighbors.
Bob grabbed his cell and called XCel Energy. A recording told us the outage covered a large area. It was expected to be restored by 7:30 a.m.
Still groggy, we decided to get more shut-eye. The next problem came when he fell asleep like a switch had been flipped. Not me. My brain went into overdrive!
The darkness enveloped me. The silence was spooky. I imagined things I normally don’t…. and didn’t want to be thinking about: What would it be like to be lost with no hope…or lose one’s way in the woods or a mountainous terrain. Yikes! Worse yet, what would it be like to lose one’s way on the path to heaven and stumble into the darkness of hell.
This is Holy Week and Sunday is Easter. So naturally, my thoughts turned to another kind of light. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12.
What confounds me is when people believe in miracles, yet the greatest miracle of all - the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - they deny.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6.

In other words, He is our gateway to heaven. He died the death and paid the penalty for the sins we are riddled with.
The deep darkness continued. But then, calm filled me in that early morning hour when I remembered the first verse of the hymn, “Christ Be My Leader.”
Christ be my leader by night as by day.Safe through the darkness for He is the way.
Gladly I follow, my future His care;Darkness is daylight when Jesus is there.
The flashlight on my cell lit up the room temporarily. But cell phone batteries don’t last forever. We won’t live in this world forever, either.
Yet, Jesus is the true light who, if we have faith in Him, will one day take us from this world of darkness to Himself in heaven where we will live in the eternal light FOREVER!
May you and yours have a Blessed Easter!!!!

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Fish folly

Sunday marked the last day of the annual Wisconsin sturgeon spearing season.
I think the most interesting story from the season appeared last week when the local news featured an account about a fisherman who lives in Malone, WI.
According to the story, written by Barry Adams of the Wisconsin State Journal, 72-year-old Corky Atkinson has been fishing in Lake Winnebago for around 50 years.
The story listed a few of Atkinson’s successes over the years including, “a 115-pound, 77-inch sturgeon in 1990, a 74-pound, 72-inch fish on the last day of the 2017 season, and a few more in between.”
As per the story, Atkinson “showed the excitement of a greenhorn. Shortly after dragging an 87.2-pound, 73.4-inch sturgeon out of the door of his ice shack, Atkinson raised both arms and celebrated.”
“What a thrill,” shouted Atkinson… he was almost all the way into the hole before I saw him.’”
“Only he turned out to be a she.”
“...technicians at a Department of Natural Resources registration station revealed the fish was likely about 65 years old.”
Sixty-five?!! Holy Cow! Or should I say, Holy Fish!!
“Atkinson would find out later that same evening while butchering the fish in his garage that it was packed with 4.5 gallons of eggs.”
Yikes!! I have one burning question regarding this fish story. Ahem… Do female sturgeons, or female fish in general, ever go into menopause???!!! Snigger, Snigger!!!



It’s all in the mind

What do neckties and dogs have in common? They are connected in a strange way with The Outdoors Guy and me.
It started last week. Bob had gone to bed a little early. When I thought I could quietly slip into the bedroom, I found him standing at the foot of the bed hunched over like he was looking for something. Yet, knowing he gets leg cramps occasionally, I quickly assumed that was the problem. Boy, was I WRONG!!!
“What are you doing?” I asked him. “Do you have leg cramps?”
“No,” he responded. “I’m looking for that necktie.”
“Whaaaat? What necktie?”
“You know the one.”
“Noooo, I don’t.”
“I just can’t find it,” he replied in frustration as he dug deeper under the covers.
I quickly surmised he was dreaming… but about neckties? Come on!!!! The only thing he normally dreams about is being out in the woods! The last time Bob wore a tie was at our nephew’s wedding back in 2012!!!
It took some fast talking and slipping into the closet to produce “the missing tie,” but I finally got him redirected and back into bed. Once in bed, though, I got the giggles because I was suddenly transported back 40+ years to another dream… only this one was mine.
It was the middle of the night and a nightmare was brewing. All of a sudden, I was awakened by The Outdoors Guy’s scream, “'AAAAHHHH!!! What are you doing?!!!'”
He flew out of bed like a bird taking flight when a predator is approaching its nest.
“You bit me in the back,” he yelled.
By now I was fully awake and realized the dream I was having involved a ferocious dog biting me. So… what did I do? Well, of course, what any non-logical, non-rational dreaming person would do… I literally bit the dog back!!! Except it was Bob’s back that took the brunt of it!! In this case, the phrase, “I’ve got your back,” was… DUH-not a good one!!!
After we both calmed down, I assessed the damage. His skin was broken, but thank goodness he wasn’t bleeding. Still, the whole episode was downright crazy!!!
We’ll never figure out where the necktie dream came from. But, because of it, The Outdoors Guy was, for lack of a better phrase… nearly fit to be tied!
One thing I know for sure. My dog dream gave new meaning to the phrase, “watch your back!!!”

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Soup’s on... or is it???

During the winter months, we like to make at least one big pot of chicken noodle soup. Call it comfort food while we wait for the blustery winter winds to morph into warm summer breezes.
Soup takes time and plenty of patience to put together. Let’s face it, time hasn’t exactly been my companion since The Outdoors Guy’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer in May of 2015, plus the stroke he suffered on Sept. 2 last year. Consequently, making soup has not been on my radar.
A quote from Laurie Colwin expresses a universal feeling about soup: “To feel safe and warm on a cold wet night, all you really need is soup.”
And, in Mr. Outdoors’ case, a barrel of crackers!!!
So, last week I was finally ready to pull out my 11-quart stock pot, roll up my sleeves and get busy putting together a mid-winter treat.
The day before, I put the chicken breasts in water, simmering them for one hour while skimming off any foam rising to the top. Then, I removed the chicken from the broth. After it had cooled enough to handle, I pulled away the skin and bones and popped the chicken in the fridge until the next day. I also chilled the broth overnight, skimming off the fat the next morning.
So far, so good. Right? Check!
The next day, Bob sliced carrots and chopped celery. I began to heat the broth, cut up the chicken, stir in the seasonings and add a frozen bag of chopped onions left over from when we made chili earlier this winter.
We were simmering along when The Outdoors Guy took a break to check his website.
Meanwhile, I measured the noodles and set them aside, ready to go when the water in the 5-quart Corning dish reached the boiling point.
As I turned to check the stock and vegies, my elbow slammed into the bowl of noodles. The bowl went flying from the counter, tumbling over as the 4 cups of noodles left the bowl and also took flight, not only across the kitchen floor, but also into the dining room. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Noodles here...noodles there…noodles, noodles...EVERYWHERE!!!
Bob heard my cry of despair as I turned down the heat on the almost-boiling water. He came racing in from the study.
“What happened?”
“I accidentally hit the bowl with my elbow when I turned around.”
“It looks like you hit a few hundred home runs in one swing,” he joked. “I’ll get the broom and dust pan.”
“Thank goodness they were dry and not cooked,” I commented.
“Yup, there’s always a silver lining,” he added.
A quick check in the pantry provided another silver lining because we had just enough noodles to replace what had spilled. Whew! Problem solved.
The new batch of noodles was cooked, rinsed and drained. The empty Corning dish was in one side of the sink. Immediately after I lifted the strainer containing the noodles from the other side of the sink to add to the soup…KA BANG!!!
Jumping about a foot, I peered into the sink to see the Corning dish had burst apart and looked quite pathetic as it was now in three pieces instead of one.
The Outdoors Guy was just a few feet away. “What the heck was that,” he hollered as he looked into the sink.
I wondered how many times in how many years I used that dish to cook noodles and make numerous other recipes. And, like always, putting hot water in it to soak. We decided it must have been it’s time.
“Another silver lining,” I added. “The dish didn’t explode on the range!!!”
With that, we looked at each other wide-eyed!!! I told him, “I don’t even want to think about what a mess that would have been!!!”
Cleanup wasn’t exactly a breeze, either. I cut my finger on an edge of the broken dish as I put it in the trash!!! AARRGGHHH!!!
I told Bob, “Now remind me of why we haven’t made soup for almost three years!!!”
“Good soup is one of the prime ingredients of good living. For soup can do more to lift the spirits and stimulate the appetite than any other one dish.” Louis P. De Gouy, ‘The Soup Book’
Ha! My spirits were never lifted so high as when I was finally able to declare, “SOUP'S ON!!!”