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

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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I love a parade

Do you love parades? If there’s a procession in your area, do you grab your lawn chair, snacks, a cold drink or two and settle in for the show?
I recall the song "I Love a Parade," written many years ago by songwriting duo Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler.

I love a parade,the tramping of feet,
I love every beat I hear of a drum.
I love a parade, when I hear a band
I just want to stand and cheer as they come.
That rat-a tat-tat, the blare of a horn.
That rat-a tat-tat, a bright uniform;
The sight of a drill will give me a thrill,
I thrill at the skill of everything military.
I love a parade, a handful of vets,
A line of cadets or any brigade,
For I love a parade.

Here’s the confession: The Outdoors Guy and I DON’T love a parade!!! Each fall when the Oktoberfest Maple Leaf Parade is held in La Crosse, count us O.U.T.!!! At 3.5-4 hours, The Maple Leaf Parade is excessively long and overly crowded for our taste.
So, imagine our surprise when Grampa said he wanted to go to the Barnes, WI, July 4th Parade not far from where we were visiting our son, Jon and daughter-in-law, Sara’s cabin.
“Who is this guy?!!!” I asked.
No one had an answer because our kids know full well parades aren’t on Grampa’s radar. Well… mine either.
Still, we all piled into the vehicle, including 11-year-old Jackson and 9-year-old Bryson, and headed to the main drag in tiny Barnes, WI, (population 774) in Bayfield County, parked, walked a ways, and waited along the parade route with hundreds (not thousands) of parade-goers.
Then, it clouded over and a few sprinkles were in the air. I looked around and noticed a small library that used to be someone’s home. It had a small covered front porch, so I ducked under it for cover. It wasn’t long before the sprinkles turned into a steady rain and the others flocked toward the library and joined me under my refuge.
We patiently waited out the shower with no grumbling from Grampa!!! Then, the clouds parted, the sun came out and everyone came out from undercover.
A fly-over with two F-16 Fighter jets got things started. The parade mainly consisted of antique vehicles in pristine condition, farm machinery in tip-top shape, fire trucks from surrounding municipalities, and a couple of trucks turned kinda/sorta like floats from restaurants/bars with patrons aboard and music blaring.
Low and behold, also in the parade was the Barnes First Responders Ambulance with the same two staff members who took The Outdoors Guy and I to Hayward Area Memorial Hospital when he suffered a stroke at the kids’ cabin on Labor Day Weekend 2017.
Along the route, there were what are designated “dry zones” and “wet zones.” When the fire trucks came through, if you were in the dry zone you wouldn’t get sprayed but… you guessed it… in the wet zone, everyone got drenched!!!  
There were no marching bands or fancy floats. Also missing from the lineup… politicians!!! Yay!!!
Finally, two choppers flew overhead, not far above the tall pines behind us. The Barnes parade was in the books.
This was Grampa’s and my kind of parade… about 30 minutes from start to finish. Jon, Sara, Jackson and Bryson enjoyed it as well.
Even so, don’t think Mr. Outdoors and I are suddenly new-found parade lovers. Nope! Not happenin’!!! We’ll reserve that special memory for the Barnes July 4, 2019 Parade.
It will probably be Grampa's only parade memory because it’s anyone’s guess if he will ever love a parade again!!!

Tis the season…....

It’s The Outdoors Guy’s busy season.
He just wrapped up his tournament director responsibilities for the Seniors’ and Women’s La Crosse County Amateur Golf Championships. His schedule this weekend includes tournament director for the two-day, Men’s La Crosse County Amateur Golf Championships.
Of course, every year weather is consistently the one "iffy" factor. It cooperated for the Seniors’ and Women's. May the County Am tournament Board of Directors, volunteers and players be blessed with good weather this weekend as well.
The week before the Seniors’/Women’s County Amateurs, The Outdoors Guy had another six-month checkup following his battle with pancreatic cancer that was first diagnosed May 8, 2015. Yes, it’s been 4-plus years since I first began reporting Bob’s trials and victories during his battle, including 37 of the strongest chemo treatments he could be given, 25 rounds of radiation and major surgery. He is so blessed.
We almost feel like it has become a broken record to report his fantastic results. Yet, who doesn’t love receiving great news? Bob’s tumor marker remains very low at 6 and once again, his CT scan is clean!!!!
Bob’s oncologist, Dr. Paula Gill of Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, La Crosse, shakes her head in amazement each time she gives The Outdoors Guy the incredible news. Our family continues to be astounded as well.
Add to this his recovery from a stroke he experienced Labor Day Weekend 2017, and I have to say he’s the closest thing I’ve ever seen to a walking, breathing miracle. We are truly blessed.
Then there is yours truly's "little" problem. After visiting Jon and Sara, our son and daughter-in-law, at their cabin July 4th, I discovered a tiny tick on the back of my knee. I pulled it off and thought that was the end of it. Well… it wasn’t. Several days later I was experiencing fatigue, aches and pains. That’s when I saw the tell-tale bulls-eye where the tick had been. It also felt warm and itchy.
A visit to my doctor’s office confirmed my suspicions… Lyme Disease. I was put on an antibiotic for 10 days. I’m feeling much better and believe it was caught in time.
A word of warning. If you think it won’t happen to you, think again. Check and double-check yourself, your kids and pets, especially if you’ve been in wooded or grassy areas with exposed skin.
Mayo’s website explains bacteria from the bite can enter your bloodstream if the tick stays attached for 36-48 hours.
It also mentions removing it properly. I’m not sure how to “properly” remove a little blood-sucking monster. In my case, I freaked out, ripped it off and flushed it!!!
Mayo’s website states if the bite is left untreated, it can result in:
* Erythema migrans. A rash that may appear on other areas of your body.
* Joint pain. Bouts of severe joint pain and swelling are especially likely to affect your knees, but the pain can shift from one joint to another.
* Neurological problems. Weeks, months or even years after the infection, you might develop inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain (meningitis), temporary paralysis of one side of your face (Bell's palsy), numbness or weakness in your limbs, and impaired muscle movement.
At my recent eye appointment, the ophthalmologist told me they even see the signs of Lyme Disease in patients’ eyes.
Between The Outdoors Guy and me, we’ve had three strikes. But the good news is WE’RE NOT OUT!!!

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Cutting corners

Do you cut corners? I’m curious, if, like me, you physically cut corners… and pay for it.
For some reason, I never give myself enough leeway. Worse, I’m always in a hurry, meaning my hands, arms and legs take the brunt of it. Whether it’s rounding a corner too tight, reaching into a cabinet too close to the shelf above, or slamming into a table or chair, whatever is in my path, I can’t seem to widen my scope enough to avoid bumping into things and being in constant bruise mode.
As a kid, I used to cut corners too tight riding my bike. Once, while making a sharp turn, the handlebar came back and hit me just below the rib cage. It knocked me out cold. I came to lying in the middle of the street and remember thinking, "If no one is going to help me, I might as well get up and go home!”
A number of years ago I gave myself a black eye closing a cabinet door. Wouldn’t you know it, shortly thereafter I ran into a high school classmate/friend who looked at me very warily, even after I explained what happened.
Not long ago, I was rounding the corner from our hallway into the dining room and slammed my forearm into the corner of the banister, giving myself a bruise plus a huge bump to go along with it.
You’d think I would learn. But, oh no, this self-abuse haunts me! My latest run-in was with a kitchen stool. While pulling out the recycling/trash drawer, I accidentally dropped the piece of paper I was about to throw away. Bending down to retrieve it, WHAM!!! I slammed my forehead into the top back corner of the kitchen stool next to it. Ouch!!
“Well,” I thought to myself, “at least it didn’t break the skin, but I’m sure I’ll have a bruise.” Ha!! Not only did I get a bruise, now I have a permanent dent in my forehead as a reminder!!!
This corner-cutting thing may be inherited from my mom. She was always in a hurry too, and frequently had the bruises to prove it.
Another reason why I believe it could be an inherited trait is a close call between my late oldest brother, Mel, and my youngest brother, Jerry. Mel took curves wide, whereas Jerry turns tight. The result was a near miss, head-on car crash on a fairly sharp curve on Water St. in Eau Claire. It’s one of those family stories that becomes more hilarious every time it is recounted.
For years I hoped I hadn’t passed this corner-cutting gene on to our boys. However, one of Evan’s famous lines is, “I get hurt every day!” And, he does.
It’s safe to say it’s a good thing I don’t hunt, fish or golf like The Outdoors Guy.
I can picture the news now. “We have a report of a crazy woman who knows nothing about hunting, fishing or golf, yet she tried to do all three the same day. She hooked the rear end of her husband's pants instead of a fish, slammed her golf club into the back of her own head while careening her golf cart into a pond. Then, while hunting, she tried to squeeze between a pair of too-close-together trees and shot herself in the foot.”
It’s no wonder I’m a bit of a recluse. I believe it is my responsibility to protect the public’s safety from myself… a self-proclaimed, corner-cutting train wreck!!!