It's a dog's life

Growing up in a large family, it was out of the question to hope having a dog or other pet would happen.
Oh, we asked, but there were seven kids in our household. A pet would have translated into our parents having yet another mouth to feed. Besides, Dad believed dogs belonged in the country, and we were city dwellers.
In sharp contrast, The Outdoors Guy was an only child. For most of his life, his family had black labs for hunting. I’ll never forget the first time I met his last lab, Bing. Bob lived at home and we had stopped at his parents’ place. In a flash, Bing stood on his hind legs and plopped his monster-sized front paws onto my shoulders. We stood nose to nose, eye to eye. Since I wasn’t used to dogs, plus this too-close-for-comfort contact, I nearly passed out! Meanwhile, Bob was having a good laugh knowing Bing simply wanted to make a new friend.
After we were married, we tried adopting dogs a couple of times. But, it never was the right fit.
Both of our boys own dogs. Jon, daughter-in-law, Sara, and grandsons, 11-year-old Jackson and 8-year-old Bryson, have Guinness, (pictured) an adorable Yorkie who is 3+ years old.
Because Jackson has allergies to most dogs, a Yorkie, which is hypo-allergenic, was one of the breeds that was safe for him. Jon would have liked a larger dog, but was happy to bring a “foo foo” dog into their family for Jackson’s sake. The funny part of this is, Jon is Guinness’ favorite… and Jon kinda likes him, too… lol!!
Before Guinness, Neely, their elderly rescue beagle, was a treasured family member until sadly she disappeared into the woods behind their home in August 2011. They spent days searching for her. Then, reflecting on Neely’s age and condition, they eventually accepted it was her time for rest.
Evan’s adopted dog is Bibi (pictured on cover). She is also an older beagle. Bibi is lovable and gentle until she’s out for a walk. Then, true to her beagle lineage, her nose takes over and her good behavior goes AWOL!  
Like our family, my sister, Brenda, and brother-in-law, Stu, didn’t have pets when their girls were growing up, either. Now, their daughter and son-in-law, Kristin and Matt, who have 14-year-old twin sons, Tanner and Blake, and an 8-year-old daughter, Madison, have a yellow lab. Madison named her Mea Mae (pictured in photo gallery). She blended into their family from day one.
Since Brenda and I came from a no-pet family, and because our two families didn’t have dogs when our kids were growing up, we weren’t into them all that much. To that end, it seemed bizarre that on one of Brenda’s and my recent weekly marathon phone visits, we went on and on about the granddogs and how much we enjoy them… almost as much as the grandkids... LOL!!!
When we finally took a breath, I asked Brenda, “Do you realize we just spent 20 minutes talking about the granddogs?!!!!” We both burst out laughing!!!
After all these years, we remember how much we wanted a dog as kids. Now we have a front-row seat, not only observing, but being involved in the delightful way they add to our families’ well-being.
Brenda, however, still hasn’t taken one major leap… she can’t bring herself to smooch Mea Mae. Whereas for me, I’m like the lyrics in The Pointer Sisters’ hit song “Automatic:” “No way to control it, it’s totally automatic.”
The old saying, “It’s a dog’s life” means life is difficult and unpleasant. Yet, from first-hand experience, I can attest that both the lives of dogs and the families who dearly love them are not only the opposite, they are truly infinitely better!!!


Believe it… another home run!!!!

“He just keeps knocking it out of the park!!!!!!”

This was the text message I received from brother-in-law, Stu, yesterday. It was after I sent a text to family members with the results of The Outdoors Guy’s latest CT scan and labs as Dr. Paula Gill continues followup care since Bob’s pancreatic cancer battle began 38+ months ago.
Seriously, this is much more like a grand slam!!
1) A clean CT scan.
2) Tumor marker dropped from 7 to 6.
3) Labs within normal range.
4) All liver tests within normal range.
Of course, our family is ecstatic on all four counts!!!  
Dr. Gill’s plan going forward is to extend Bob’s time frame for the next CT scan to six months rather than the three-month cycle he has been following.
She suggested having a tumor marker test done in three months if Bob has concerns with waiting six months for the next scan. He agreed to Dr. Gill’s plan.
With his next tumor marker due in late October, the timing will be right for The Outdoors Guy to hit another one out of the park in his very own personal World Series challenge against cancer.
Son, Jon, sent a text in response to our news with one word: “WOOHOO!!!”
Yup. That about sums it up!!!
Our family continues to be blessed almost beyond belief!!! Yet…

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23

The logic of an 8-year-old

Another Memorial Day Weekend is in the books.
The Outdoors Guy and I had a memorable one with our son and daughter-in-law, Jon and Sara, and our grandsons Jackson, 10, and Bryson, 8.
We gathered at their cabin Friday for a happy reunion.
Of course, the boys looked like they’d grown another inch since we last saw them a few weeks ago. They were excited for the weekend and to only have 2½ days of school left until summer vacation kicks in. Jackson (left in photo) and Bryson were also looking forward to getting new kayaks on Sunday.
The cabin was hot… really hot!! The Hayward area was experiencing record temps much like ours in La Crosse. With help from fans, it cooled off dramatically as it often does in the country once the sun goes down.
Saturday morning, the boys were wired!! The plan was for them to golf with Grampa and their dad while Sara and I got in some girl time.
Finally, in an attempt to burn off some of their energy, Grampa told Jackson and Bryon to run down to the lake, touch the boat and run back to him.
They took off like a shot. It wasn’t long before he could hear pounding footsteps signaling their return.
It took no time at all for Jackson to squeal on his little bro.
“Bryson didn’t touch the boat,” he announced.
“Yes, I did,” came Bryson’s adamant response.
“No, you didn’t!”
They continued back and forth with the “No, you didn’t!” vs. the “Yes, I did!”
Grampa asked Bryson how he could have touched the boat when Jackson insisted he didn’t.
Bryson’s quick reply was, “My foot was touching the ground and the boat was touching the ground, so I was touching the boat,” he insisted… with a straight face.
Needless to say, Bryson’s brilliant deduction didn’t cut it in Grampa’s book of rules. He demanded Bryson go back and touch the boat and told Jackson to go with him.
“Why do I have to go again when I already touched the boat?” Jackson grumbled.
“Because you have to make sure Bryson actually touches it!” Grampa replied.
Away they went again. This time Bryson actually did what he was told to do.
But, seriously!!! What 8-year-old deducts that because his feet and the boat are touching the ground, he and the boat are touching? I think I’m going to use that logic the next time I have to be somewhere I don’t want to go… that place is touching the ground and I’m touching the ground, so I’m there!!! Ya… right!!!
I wonder what Bryson’s next pearl of wisdom will be!!
Meanwhile, we thought many times about Bob’s Uncle Bobby (who was killed on Saipan in WWII) and all the fallen heroes who gave their lives so we can have the freedoms we enjoy every day in our great country. Using Bryson’s logic, this would include the freedom to claim he is touching the boat by touching the ground the boat is touching!!!
YOWZA!!!! That’s our Bryson!!!

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Slip, sliding away

There are some things we simply shouldn’t do once we’ve reached the golden years, 65-80+. But, first I’ve gotta ask, “What is so golden about the golden years anyway?!!”
Checklists of safety considerations can be found on the internet, at senior living facilities or at any doctor’s office. Some of the concerns include not climbing most anything from ladders to standing on furniture while trying to reach further than we should. It is suggested to remove or tack down scatter rugs. Also, keep floors clean and uncluttered to prevent tripping and falls. Skid-proofing the tub/shower is another biggie.
One warning I have never seen or heard mentioned, but should be is: “Don’t try to juggle too many things at one time.” In our household, we have first-hand knowledge of what can happen, thanks to The Outdoors Guy.
Thursday, he was out and about. Really…when isn’t he? lol  On his way home, it was sweet and considerate of him to stop and pick up a coffee for me at my favorite eatery.
When he returned home, I didn’t hear the door open. What I did hear was loud wailing that scared me half to death!! I didn’t know who or WHAT it was. Then, I thought some crazy person was breaking in! I didn’t recognize his voice as he shrieked AAAAAAAA!!!! AAAAAAAAAA!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAA!!!   
Running to the door, I witnessed Bob attempting a balancing act with several items, including the hot coffee. It had slipped and spilled on him, burning his hand and chest.
Grabbing the coffee and other items from him, we ripped off his shirt. Quickly, I pulled ice packs from the freezer. They began to lessen his pain right away.
Yet, his biggest regret was seemingly more painful than his burns.
 “I won’t be able to golf or fish for awhile,” he wistfully and mournfully commented.  
Applying Solarcaine Cool Aloe Burn Relief to the area helped even more. Within a short time, The Outdoors Guy’s pain lessened and he was doing much better.
“Something tells me you’re going to be able to golf and fish sooner than you thought!”
But then, The Outdoors Guy got mad at himself because he recalled a couple of months earlier, he tried to pull off a different balancing act. He had grilled salmon for dinner. I was almost finished prepping the rest of the meal when he came through the same door trying to manage plates, seasonings and grilling utensils in one trip. That less-than-graceful entrance didn’t end well either. One plate of salmon slipped from his hand and landed on the back door mat… and everywhere else, too!!
“Wouldn’t you think I would have learned after I dropped the salmon?!!” he said.
“Usually, bad things happen in threes,” I reminded him. “So, make a mental note: two juggling acts failed. You don’t want a 3-peat. Just remember, we’re never to old to learn.”
The upshot is, right here and now I’m suggesting this addition to the safety check list:
Don’t try to hold, carry or juggle more items than you can safely handle at one time. It could cause you to become unbalanced and/or prevent you from seeing where you are going, resulting in a tripping/falling hazard.
HmmmI remember the time I tripped UP the stairs. But, that’s another story!!!! Hahahaha!!!

‘On Eagles’ Wings’

This spring, The Outdoors Guy is avidly viewing the Decorah eagles ( and their young from the comfort of his “nest” in the study.
The spring began with the mates preparing their nest, mom eagle laying three eggs and then the pair co-parenting their three fledglings. Sadly, about three weeks ago, the male eagle left the nest one day and hasn’t returned. He was an older bird, with this being his second mate. We may never know his fate.   
Bob marvels at the resilience and toughness mom eagle has displayed while continuing to raise their three eaglets on her own. She endured the hardship of this spring’s especially nasty weather conditions, while bearing full responsibility to hunt for food and feed it to her young. As she continues to do so, mom eagle also does her best to protect her young from the elements and predators.
Although Bob isn’t living in a tree (I’d lay odds he’d like to, though), and hasn’t had to withstand severe weather conditions like the eagles, he has been tough and resilient withstanding a different condition… pancreatic cancer.
Today, May 8, marks the three-year anniversary of his diagnosis. Three years of ups and downs, struggles and triumphs. And, three years of never giving up!!!
Early last week, he had his scheduled three-month CT scan, labs and visit with oncologist Dr. Paula Gill. Bob’s scan and labs were a near-mirror image of his results in January. His CT scan remains clean!! Not only that, his tumor marker dropped even lower, going from 9 to 7, well within the desired range of 35 or less for cancer patients.
Logic tells us it is a true miracle The Outdoors Guy is still with us when, at the time of his diagnosis, his survival changes were less than 20%, and his chances for reaching surgery were less than 50%.
Add to these odds came the disappointing news in January 2016 that the completion of planned surgery was not an option for Bob.
The turn of events occurred after an unanticipated discovery of a large amount of scar tissue in his abdominal cavity from a previous surgery. When Bob’s pancreatic surgeon specialist, Dr. Mark Truty of Mayo Clinic, Rochester, touched the scar tissue, he said it fell apart like wet tissue paper. As he labored to get through the scar tissue, it caused bleeding, which he and two other surgeons worked for hours to stop. As a result of the bleeding complication, Dr. Truty wasn’t able to complete his plan to remove the tumor.
Yet, Dr. Truty’s news was encouraging when he told our family he felt in all likelihood the tumor was dead or nearly dead. He said, “I could not feel the tumor, only the impression of where it had been.”
With all this jubilant news, it is with great joy we wish a HAPPY 3RD ANNIVERSARY-OF-LIFE TO OUR OUTDOORS GUY!!!! Not only has he survived, he has soared with the eagles!!!

“In a desert land He found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.” Deuteronomy 32:10-11