Out the door!!!!

Do you remember? It was 12 months ago I was tired of my side of the closet bulging at the seams. I was guilty of keeping clothes for years that I no longer wore mainly because I couldn’t make a decision on what to keep or donate.
I visited the website, Hoarders Help. After reading the description of a hoarder, the first two traits struck home: “Indecisiveness and perfectionism.”
I read about a one-year challenge for clothes hoarders. It suggested switching clothing to face the opposite direction they normally do. As an article of clothing is worn and laundered, turn it the regular way again. After one year, whatever remains that has not been worn, and therefore has not been turned to face the usual way, donate those items.
BOOM!!! I was hooked and pledged to take the challenge.  
Wow! Those 365 days flew by in a hurry!!! I could hardly believe it when I pulled out my 2019 calendar. Yup, there was the Post-It attached to January with the reminder staring back at me.
Inspired by the challenge, I did not wait for the one-year deadline before beginning to eliminate a few articles at a time. It was a slow, arduous process, but once into it, I kept at it.
When the Jan. 28th deadline arrived, I leafed through my wardrobe looking for any items still turned in the opposite direction. To my delight, there were only eight turned about-face. YAY!!!
Those eight garments were added to my final donation tally. I am pleased to report Goodwill was the recipient of 42 tops/blouses/sweaters, 4 dresses, 6 blazers/jackets/coats, 8 pairs of slacks/jeans and 5 pairs of shoes.
Although this was MY self-imposed challenge and not The Outdoors Guy’s, at my suggestion, he went through his side of the closet… grumpy and halfheartedly!!! Tee-hee!!! It took him all of 10 minutes!! Still, he donated 28 shirts/sweaters and 3 pairs of slacks. I know he has more clothing hanging around that will never see the light of day, but it’s somewhere between unbelievable and a miracle he sifted through his things in the first place!
To that end, I’m pleased to report there is less clothing filling my space than his!!! Woo-hoo!!!
My enthusiasm spilled over into household goods as well, adding 27 items to the tally.  
When shopping, I have learned to be more discerning and now ask myself, “Do I really need this?” More often than not, the answer is a big, resounding, “NO!!!” The best part? I can walk away and not look back.
If you’re on the fence about taking this challenge, I emphatically recommend you get off it!!! During these winter months, while we are spending so many hours indoors, is an excellent time to go for it!
Whether you take baby steps or one giant leap to accomplish your goal, BE ALL IN!!! IT’S A GREAT FEELING!!!



 


 








Scanxiety turns into serenity

There was no need to question why The Outdoors Guy wasn’t his usual self earlier this week.
Tuesday, he was scheduled for his six-month labs, tumor marker test and CT scan as a followup for his pancreatic cancer diagnosed May 8, 2015.
After his last round of tests, Dr. Paula Gill, Bob’s oncologist at Mayo Clinic-La Crosse campus, said because he had so many clean scans, she could no longer warrant testing every three months.
Stretching tests out to double the amount of time between scans made Bob feel like he was up on a ladder with nowhere to go.
It was about a year ago when he read an article about the anxiousness before testing. It even has a name, “Scanxiety.”
“Scanxiety” is defined as “the tension which builds, particularly among those who have or have had cancer, as they move toward their regular checkup scan.”
After scanxiety, patients move into “hyper-scanxiety,” being the time they wait for results.
Aha!!! No wonder The Outdoors Guy suddenly becomes a little hard to live with during the pre-and-post test results. When you think about it, though, we all can be anxious while waiting for test results, even if we don’t have cancer.
This time, though, he seemed a little more at peace than he has in the past. I am sure his strengthened faith in God has brought him to a new-found confidence that, come what may, he always has been and will continue to be in the Great Physician’s care.
Our wait is over. Today Bob met with Dr. Gill to receive his test results.
HERE. WE. GO!!!
The Outdoors Guy said Dr. Gill was ecstatic with his test results. His tumor marker remains at eight, the same as six months ago, and his CT scan was clean with no sign of the pancreatic tumor!!! His other labs, including his liver tests, were also great.
PHENOMENAL…INCREDIBLE…REMARKABLE!!! These are the best adjectives I can think of to express Bob’s test results and how we are feeling at this time. Yet, BLESSED rises far above and beyond these by a country mile in the Outdoors Guy’s thankful eyes.
2019 is off to a happy, healthy start for our family and we hope for yours, too!!!

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. - Isaiah 55:12


 

   

Oh, boys!!! Here we go again…

Our youngest son, Evan, is a fun and funny guy. Even as a little kid, he always, ALWAYS marched to the beat of his own drum. His even-keel older bro, Jon, is like a ship… steady as she goes! Two brothers, two different paths.
Well, Jon’s boys, Jackson, 11, and Bryson, 9, are Jon and Evan all over again. Jackson is calm, quiet and, for the most part, collected. Bryson on the other hand, is free-wheeling!
When our family got together with Jon, Sara and the boys, and before Bryson was old enough to walk, he was really afraid of Evan. He wouldn’t let Ev hold him… he’d squirm and squeal if Evan tried to take him from someone else’s arms. We could never understand it.
Then, one day it hit me. Evan is 16 years younger than Jon. He’s a big guy, but because he was, and still is, so full of energy… basically wired liquid… I wondered if it was plausible Bryson couldn’t figure Evan out. Evan looked like a grownup… yet he acted like a kid. And a HUGE kid like that was bound to scare little Brycie!!!
It took awhile for Bryson to feel comfortable with Evan. However, as Bryson has grown, guess what? He idolizes uncle Evan! When our family is together, Bryson sticks to Ev like Gorilla Glue!!!
The two of them even think alike. Once, when Ev was a kid, he was deer hunting with Bob, Bob’s Dad, uncle and cousins. They stopped for lunch. When the waitress asked Evan for his order, Evan responded with, “I’ll take a cheeseburger, without the cheese.”
The waitress asked, “Sooo, you mean you want a plain burger?”
“No, I want a cheeseburger without the cheese.”
They went back and forth a couple of times and, by now, the hunting crew was in stitches and the waitress was probably wondering what planet this kid was dropped off from. It’s a story Ev will NEVER, EVER live down!!!
Then, there’s Brycie!!! The other day, he told his parents, “I like onion rings, but without the onions.”
SAY WHAT???!!!
Sara and Jon couldn’t wait to tell us! It is SO Evan!!!
We thought there could only be one Evan. BUT, LOOK OUT WORLD, EVAN No. 2 IS ON THE LOOSE!!!!!


My favorite Christmas memories

With new readers to boblamboutdoors.com, I’d like to share three of my favorite classic short stories from my Christmas memory pages posted December 2011.

It’s the peanutiest!!

Growing up in Eau Claire, Wis., my family belonged to Epiphany Lutheran Church.
Christmas meant the presentation of the Christmas Chorale, an event our junior choir practiced for weeks in advance.
At the end of the program, the choir members and all Sunday School students received lunch sacks containing an apple, an orange, a few pieces of candy and plenty of peanuts in-their-shells.
Being that I hail from a family of seven siblings, there were always several of us who were either in the choir, Sunday School or both. That meant, LOTS of peanuts! Upon returning home, the contents of our bags were pooled together and the peanuts poured into a large bowl.
Dad loved those peanuts! He ate himself sick on them nearly every Christmas. It became a family joke because Dad never learned!
When I remember Christmas as a child, I can’t help recall, of all things, peanuts!!
That’s why, when visiting Dad’s gravesite at Christmastime, I tote along one large bag of in-the-shell peanuts and empty them out onto the ground.
Yes, it’s in memory of Dad. But, at the same time, I smile thinking how much the squirrels enjoy the peanuts and must wonder if the peanut lady will show up again this year with their very own Christmas feast.   
And, every year I hope the squirrels don’t end up with a big ol’ tummy ache like Dad did!!!


December Campsite

Our son, Jon, was a little tyke when our family started a tradition we continued year after year.
In the morning, we hauled the Christmas tree inside, placed it in the stand, and gave it until evening for the branches to come down.
Then, we prepared hot chocolate, set out a tray of goodies, put on Christmas music and set about decorating the tree together.
The really fun part came when we turned off all the lights, pulled out blankets and pillows and “camped under the stars” that first night.
We’d hum or sing Christmas carols, reminisce about Christmas’ past, discuss the true meaning of Christmas, take in the fresh pine fragrance, and feel blessed for the love of family.
By the time Jon reached middle school, we no longer carried out our tradition. That is, not until his younger brother, Evan, came along, when Jon was finishing his sophomore year in high school.
A few years later, while Jon was away at college, Bob and I took up our camping ritual once again with Evan.
The funny thing was, “somehow” we didn’t remember it being as uncomfortable sleeping on that hard floor as it was when we had last “camped” about six years before!
Bob didn’t even make it halfway through the night before he hobbled off to bed. I forced myself to suppress a giggle!
And to think all this time, I thought he was the outdoorsman!!! Bah humbug!!!


“Diamonds” are a girl’s best friend

Bob’s dad, Ray, pulled a few practical jokes in his time.
I was rarely his target. But, one Christmas, he did a “gotcha!”
Throughout that season, leading up to Christmas, he let elusive little hints slip, often in hushed tones. The jest of it was that I would receive an extra-special gift that year.
Words such as diamond and pin were whispered just loud enough for me to hear.
What was a girl to think?
The time for unwrapping gifts arrived.
We took turns going around the family circle, opening one present at a time.
“Save that one for last, Kath,” Ray chuckled with a wink and a grin, after I had chosen one particular package. Like most things in life, saving something for last usually means it’s the best.
Finally, after the rounds had been made and I was down to my final gift, I picked it up again.
I was totally embarrassed because all eyes were on me as I tore off the paper, lifted the cover from the box and peeked inside.
There, nestled in tissue paper, was my much-anticipated Christmas gift.
Ray had taken an extra-large safety pin and glued a dime on it.
Yes siree, right before my eyes sat my very own “dime-on” pin!!!!

May you and yours have a joyful Christmas and be richly blessed in 2019.

Do you have a special Christmas memory? If you do and would like to share it with our readers, send your short story to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.








The magnificent monarch... and more

OK. I’ll admit it. The Outdoors Guy’s outdoors’ interests have gotten into my system… at least a little bit.
Still, I haven’t changed from my girly-girl interests as much as does a caterpillar when it metamorphoses into a butterfly.
Two weeks ago, I noticed a caterpillar creeping across the pot of one of our ferns on the patio. The next day, a green chrysalis hung precariously toward the bottom of the pot. I wondered how it could hold on in strong winds and rainy weather. I needn’t have been concerned. It has hung from that thin strand, attached by something stronger than Super Glue, through days of high winds, heavy rain, and even when I move the pot out of the way for our “Mow Joes.”  
That same evening, I discovered another caterpillar inching its way across our patio steps. The next morning, a second chrysalis hung from the top step by our patio door. I knew this one would require taking extra precaution so neither Bob nor I accidentally dislodged it.
Also, that evening, I saw yet another green chrysalis dangling from our landscape edging and still a fourth suspended under a hydrangea leaf.
I have noticed a number of chrysalis over the years, but never four in such close proximity and so easily visible.
I’ll admit it. I always thought butterflies hatch from cocoons. However, through my research for this blog, I learned, “butterflies hatch from chrysalis, a life stage made of a hardened protein.” In contrast, “A cocoon is spun from silk and surrounds the pupa of many moths.”
Not knowing how long it takes for caterpillars’ metamorphosis, I searched websites for info because even The Outdoors Guy wasn’t sure.
I learned from one website by Lynn Rosenblatt, Monarch Butterfly USA, there are five generations of monarchs in a single year. Then, the process begins again.
“The total time frame for one butterfly’s life cycle (one generation) is about 6-8 weeks… egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly. It grows inside the egg for about 4 days. It then munches milkweed and grows as a monarch caterpillar (larvae) for about 2 more weeks. The caterpillar’s life inside the chrysalis (pupa) lasts about 10 days and its life as an adult butterfly lasts from 2-6 weeks.”
According to the website Science Learning Hub, ”A monarch larva moults 5 times. The final moult reveals an adult butterfly. The enlarged abdomen is full of fluid. The butterfly pumps the fluid into its crumpled wings until they become full and stiff.”
Returning to Monarch Butterfly USA website, I learned “The 5th generation… does NOT mate or die in 2-6 weeks. In November/December, the monarch’s inner compass directs it to MIGRATE south and this generation will live 4-5 months in Mexico or Southern California. They begin awakening and mating in March of the NEXT SPRING, and then lay their eggs! Withered and tattered from their migration and hibernation… they finally die.”
I was excited when I went out to the patio on Sept. 17 and discovered the second chrysalis had its final moult. It was hanging on the edge of the step, fluttering its wings, with the chrysalis shell next to it. I checked on the monarch several times, always finding the it in the same spot. Finally, a couple hours later I witnessed this magnificent creature take its maiden flight! Awesome!
The first chrysalis is still dangling from the flower pot as is the one hanging from the landscape edging.
Sadly, the fourth chrysalis, the one suspended under a hydrangea leaf, will not have its final moult. When I first discovered it, the chrysalis was black. I thought that seemed strange, but wondered if it was a different kind of butterfly.   
However, according to the Missouri Botanical Gardens Butterfly School website, “Pupae” (when the caterpillar is in chrysalis its called a pupa) may die instead of completing the transformation into butterflies. A black or very dark chrysalis could indicate that the pupa died. If you gently bend the chrysalis at the abdomen and it remains bent, the pupa's probably dead.”
Tentatively, I did as instructed. Not only did the chrysalis remain bent, it felt empty...kind of like I felt at that moment. It was another lesson for me in nature’s ways. Some aren’t always easy to comprehend or accept.
Yet, there is a plan. “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven - a time to give birth and a time to die.” Ecclesiastes 3:1
It is not our job to understand. God only asks us to accept HIS divine will. By believing in His Son, Jesus Christ, who did His Father’s will and died and rose from the dead to pay for the sins of the world, we will be saved. Then, unlike the monarch’s incredibly short life cycle, or our unpredictable earthly life span, we will be forever with the Lord. Even the wonders of nature can’t compare!!!
 "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9.

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