This one's for you girls!

No, I’m not blogging about #me, too. Although, I’d venture to guess most of us have a story or two to tell!
I’d rather write about our closets… or at least what’s in ‘em that shouldn’t be.
If yours looks anything like mine, it’s as jam-packed with clothes as the mall is with people on the weekend before Christmas.
I’ve never considered myself to be a hoarder. But, I do know I have a problem with keeping too many clothes.
So, my curiosity got the best of me. I decided to check out a few websites. One site, Hoarders Help, quoted Jack Samuels, Ph.D., an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Dept. of Mental Health at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins. He suggested, “Hoarding belongs to a syndrome which also includes: Indecisiveness, perfectionism, procrastination, avoidance behaviors and difficulty organizing tasks.”
BOOM!! I didn’t have to think twice! Right off the bat I was convicted on the first two counts!
1) Indecisiveness. My family, including my parents, brothers and sisters and I were teased for years by the in-laws because we were all so indecisive! If there was a decision to be made when members of the Poling clan got together, we’d go round and round before someone FINALLY made it… and then it was usually one of the in-laws!
2) Perfectionism. Yes, it’s another trait I struggle with. So much so that sometimes I even drive myself crazy!!! LOL
Obviously, fessing up to the first two categories didn’t start off on a positive note in my quest for a not-guilty-of-hoarding verdict. Yet, I don’t believe I’m a full-blown hoarder. My main problem is clinging to too many clothes.
Hmm…let’s see…there’s the mini velvet skirt with a matching vest almost as long as the skirt. I bought it 40+ years ago!!! I use the excuse it’s vintage and a keepsake. But, it’s more like…for Pete’s sake, what am I thinking?!!
Do you remember Fantles on 5th Ave. in La Crosse? My closet boasts a black bolero jacket and a few other pieces I purchased there. Has Fantle’s really been closed since 1995? Yikes! That’s 28 years ago!! But, I see bolero jackets are still popular. Maybe this one can stay in my closet!
I still have the sweater our son, Jon, gave me during his St. Olaf College days back in the early 90’s!! I like it. But, once when I wore it when Jon and daughter-in-law, Sara, visited, they looked at me cross-eyed and laughed. Even so, I’m having a hard time saying good-bye.
Normally, I don’t have a problem with shoes. But, it took me a number of years to finally get rid of the red heels I loved so much… the ones that didn’t love me back. Not only did the toes pinch, the shoes slipped when I walked. No amount of shoe inserts helped. Believe me, I tried! Finally, I acknowledged that if the “big reds” didn’t go to Good Will, I’d slip or trip, fall and be wearing a red face to match!
These are just a few examples. Yet, enough for you to get the picture. I probably wouldn’t be too far off the mark, though, suggesting you may have several illustrations of your own.
Another reason…er…excuse my over-populated closet began to swell to an out-of-proportion size was the opening of TJ Maxx in our area just over 18 years ago. My closet has never been the same. My reasoning for shopping at TJ Maxx more than department stores is, if I pay less for an article of clothing, then it won’t bother me to give it up. There’s one teensy-weensy problem with this concept. Even when the article of clothing doesn’t work for me anymore, I still don’t want to send it out the door.
My dad was a pack rat when it came to his garage. He kept pieces of wire, wood, string, old worn-out tools…you name it, he had it in spades. When he passed away, cleaning out his garage wasn’t for the faint of heart. Thankfully, my brothers sorted through the bulk of it. Several loads of his long-saved “treasures” made their final trip… to the dump. Dad would not have been happy, but we sure were! To that end, I don't want to put our kids through such a major task, whenever that day should come.
So, what to do? A while back I read about a challenge for clothes hoarders, suggesting switching clothing to face the opposite way everything normally does. As an article of clothing is worn and laundered, turn it the normal 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.
As of today, I switched all of my tops and jackets/blazers to hang in the closet facing the opposite direction. Thank goodness I don’t have a problem with slacks, jeans or dresses. Just turning the tops about-face was a project. This Lamb is sheepish to admit I stopped counting at 100!!!
After one year, it will be sayonara to the tops and jackets/blazers that have not been worn, and therefore have not been turned to face the usual way. Today’s date has been recorded. I wonder if, after one year, I still won’t be able to let go. Parish the thought!!!
Hmm… I’m checking out Mr. Outdoors side of the closet. He seriously needs to consider doing an about-face with his shirts, too!!! Should I suggest it, or keep the peace and not say a word? AARRGGHHH!!! I can’t decide!!!

Name that poop!

A few days ago, our oldest son, Jon, sent us an email with the subject, “Name That Poop.”
It begged to be opened because this was unlike the Jon we know!
When I clicked on it, there before my very eyes was a picture of poop… animal poop that is!
He and their boys, Jackson and Bryson, had been at the family  cabin north of Hayward this past weekend and discovered animal waste they couldn’t identify. Jon said it was near the lake and dock.
Naturally, who are they going to turn to solve this mystery? Grampa… aka… The Outdoors Guy, of course!!! When he looked at it (like, who wants to do that in the first place?!), he said it had to be from either a wolf or coyote because the poop had hair in it. Wolves and coyotes, he explained, eat small mammals, for example rabbits, mice, squirrels, gophers, moles, etc. The animals’ hair doesn’t break down in a wolf’s or coyote’s digestive system.
Gee, I’m glad this mystery is solved!!! And, I’m more than overjoyed to have this little outdoors tidbit to carry with me for the rest of my life!!! LOL
Yet, I can’t help but wonder, what will the next subject line be from our now unpredictable Jonathan!!!

A day of sadness becomes a yearly celebration of joy!!!

Seven years ago today, May 8, 2015, The Outdoors Guy was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. The day was like a nightmare we feared would not end well.
I noticed his yellow skin early that morning and asked, “What is going on with you?” Even the whites of his eyes were yellow.
I told him he needed to go to the doctor NOW!! He left for Mayo Clinic in Onalaska shortly thereafter. Within 45 minutes, he called, “Can you be ready for me to pick you up in a few minutes? I have to go to the main clinic for a CT scan.”
We were both quiet on the drive. Although, like me, I knew his brain was swirling with questions and what news we would receive.
The scan was fairly quick. Then his doctor called to give us his diagnosis: pancreatic cancer. Our world as we knew it was crashing down around us.
Back home, we tried talking through his possible options, called our family and then spend a sleepless night with lots of tears.
We had recently celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary. Would we see No. 44… together?
Monday finally came. He was scheduled for an ERCP (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography) to diagnose if the tumor was cancerous. It was determined the medium-sized tumor was in the pancreas.
Mid-May we met with doctors at Mayo Clinic-Rochester. They explained pancreatic cancer patients are now treated with chemo first to shrink the tumor. Then surgery follows. Dr, Chari said the success rate has been very good. He said what The Outdoors Guy had going for him was his positive outlook, his otherwise good health, being active and having a strong faith.
Doctors now begin with the strongest dose of chemo, shrink the tumor to a more manageable size for surgical removal, and then do another round of chemo. The success rate has been very good.
I told The Outdoors Guy on the way home that day, "This is not going to be a sprint. It’s going to be a marathon.”
On May 20, 2015, we met with Bob’s surgeon, Dr. Mark Truty in Rochester for the first time. He did an amazing job explaining step by step what they would be doing to treat Bob and why.
His chemo treatments began in June 2015 after his bilirubin was down. It went well for the most part.
If you stayed informed through his chronology on my blog, you may recall he was diagnosed May 8, 2015, and beginning June 15, he endured 37 rounds of chemo, 25 radiation treatments and major surgery. He also weathered many ups and downs along the way.
In 2015, our family and The Chemo King wondered if he would be here to celebrate another Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, birthday or wedding anniversary.
Seven years later, he is among only 2% of the population to have survived more than two years with a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.
And, we have celebrated many more of the above special occasions, including the marriage of our youngest, Evan, to Annie in 2019 and our 50th wedding anniversary April 10th of this year.
We have also met our youngest grandchild, Evan’s Ady and love getting to know her better every day. We’ve watched Jon and Sara’s two sons, Jackson and Bryson, grow into fine young men! We have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to!!!
Happy Anniversary, Ted!!! (short for Teddy Bear!!! - my nickname for Bob!)


The Doxology  
Thomas Ken

I’ve had it with COVID!!!

Despite the epidemic, life was moving along just fine without too many hitches, when the Outdoors Guy was suddenly not feeling well. A couple days later, I was right there with him.
We both got tested for COVID. He was positive. I was negative. That was on a Friday. A couple days later, I still wasn’t feeling well and went for another COVID test. This time, it came back positive.
We’re not sure if our son, Evan, gave us the virus after going to a Brewers game the previous weekend with his wife, Annie and daughter, Ady, although, they did wear masks the entire time. Or, if Bob picked it up somewhere throughout his travels and gave it to me, Evan and family.
Evan was probably the sickest. And although neither The Outdoors Guy nor I got deathly sick, we were both miserable for a number of days. Annie did OK and Ady (almost 10) only had a sore throat. What’s so strange is we all previously had our COVID vaccines AND boosters. In fact, I had my second booster four days before I was diagnosed. Go figure!
I recently read Dr. Frank Bures’ column, Health Hints* in the La Crosse Tribune that those who had a more mild form of COVID, where they didn’t need to be hospitalized, may have long-term effects from the disease. Oh, goody! As if being 65+ isn’t enough fun, another dimension has been added to our merriment!
The mild COVID group here showed thinning in several brain regions, ranging from 0.2% to 2% compared to their pre-COVID scan. This is equivalent to 1-6 years of normal brain aging.
For comparison, the scientists were able to find a small number of volunteers’ scans after non-COVID-19 pneumonia. They did not have the same changes, implying Covid patients’ alterations were from COVID specifically. Brain volume decreases are common to many brain diseases and are found in depression, Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive disease and traumatic brain injury. These patients also have problems with memory and attention deficits.
According to Bures, “Affected brain regions included parahippocampal, an area related to memory and the orbitofrontal cortex, an area affecting taste and smell. They had altered connections between different brain regions in the olfactory cortex, an area related to smell. The brain-size reduction related to post-COVID patients showed greater decrease in whole brain volume and increase in cerebrospinal fluid volume.
“Both groups took some rudimentary cognitive or thinking tests. The COVID group had greater decline in the ability to perform complex tasks, which on brain scans was associated with atrophy or thinning in the crus II, an area of the cerebellum (lower brain) an area associated with cognition or attention and mental flexibility.”
It is an interesting study. However, the authors also speculated these brain changes could be “related to brain diseases found in depression, Alzheimer’s, mild cognitive disease and traumatic brain injury.
As with any study, and especially one of such uncharted territory, the authors explained that the changes could also be from inflammation or immune reactions, direct viral infection of nerve cells, or degeneration of those nerves.”
Dr. Bures wrote, “The long term implications and predictions of and from these data are impossible to make at this time.’
My question: Should we who have had COVID be concerned or move forward and live our lives to the best of our ability? I vote for option 2!
After all, according to the National Institute of Mental Health: The brains of people who experience depression or anxiety may age more quickly than other people. And researchers in a new study say this increases their odds of developing dementia.”
Keep in mind: This is just another study that likely had its limitations, too!
* Comments taken from La Crosse Tribune’s Dr. Frank Bures’ column “Healthful Hints” Sunday, May 4, 2022

Tough… yet gentle

This time of the year, The Outdoors Guy loves to have a front row seat, by way of his computer, to the Minnesota DNR eagle cam.
Since early February, he’s had his own eagle-eye on the nest, watching and waiting for the eagles to arrive.
When they did, he announced their arrival with a hardy, “The eagles are here!” It was as if he was telling me friends had arrived for dinner!
For a number of years we watched the Decorah, Iowa Raptors Resource eagles. However, that nest is deserted. There is a Decorah North cam, but The Outdoors Guy has been tuned to the Minnesota DNR Nongame Wildlife EagleCam instead. You can, too, by logging onto
Saturday, Feb. 12, the female eagle, named Nancy, laid her first egg shortly after 5 p.m. The Outdoors Guy called me to his study so I could see it. Then, on Tuesday, Feb. 15, she laid her second egg about 2 p.m. We are waiting to see if a third egg arrives. Although Nancy raised two offspring last year, eagles can lay up to three eggs.
There have been some challenges weather-wise for mama eagle. Snow and high winds have been the two biggest trials. Yet, she remains stalwart in nature’s duties set before her.
Another reason the Outdoors Guy loves watching mama eagle is because she reminds him of his dad, Ray. Eagles are tough and rugged, yet gentle!
If you watch mama eagle tenderly turn her eggs in the nest bole, it seems those long, strong talons would destroy the delicate eggs. Yes, she is strong, but ever-so gentle in her motherly duties.
In comparison, The Outdoors Guy’s father was a rough and tough kind of guy. Ray was a welder. He worked hard… played hard, too.
Yet, Ray could be soft-spoken and gentle in some of his ways. It was especially evident on summer days when I looked out the kitchen window and saw “Grandpa” coming to the back door. He walked ever-so-gingerly while cradling a bouquet of fresh flowers from his garden, or a loaf of his homemade baked bread. Then, he ever-so-tenderly delivered them along with a pleasant visit. Those memories are like short videos playing in my mind... recollections I’ll always cherish.
May God care for the eagles as they follow His plan. And may we never forget the tenderness and loving acts of our loved ones who also cared for us like mama eagles… tough, yet gentle!!!