My oldest grand daughter is going into her senior high school year so she had the privilege of choosing the family vacation. She chose to go to the BWCA wilderness with grandpa as guide. How cool is that? 5 days unplugged from technology and looking at the sky for hints of a weather forecast. 5 days of learning how to see. Really see. 5 days of soaking in all that nature provides at it’s whims without asking. 5 days of gorgeous blue waters, rain storms, wind, cold, hot, starry skies, open fire cooked foods and, well, mosquitoes and black flies.
To all you families considering a week of being unplugged; go for it and work through the learning process. You will be better, much better for it. Kids, go for it. Your eyes and ears will be opened and conversations and memories will be had the rest of your life. Take a peek at a few highlights.
We watched a nymph crawl on the tent and become a dragonfly. We used life jackets for sleeping pads. The kids found out that 30 degree (F) ratings on sleeping bags mean you will get cold at 40. The colors in nature never clash, they just enhance each other. There must be 30 shades of green! It would take a lot of faith to believe all this order came randomly by chaos. We love the wilderness! Life lessons abound and were talked about (another time with more pictures).
Now we are home, it was better than a good dream. Tonight we toasted our wilderness trip with Smores (toasted marshmallows over a fire put into a graham cracker sandwich with a piece of chocolate bar).
These pictures are but a very small taste of our wilderness experience. Thanks for coming along, and yes we ate several meals of bass, pike and walleye as well as returned most of our fish to live a bit longer. Many fish stories for another time. You really should go into the wilderness if you can…go for it. Unplug awhile!
Getting a group of fishermen together on a nice saturday morning is kind of like throwing a party for introverts. It’s hard to get people to show up.
About 40 guys and a slew of boats at this little but mighty country church. I suspect a nice breakfast helped the draw. Many are friends. father and son combos arrived as well as the guest speaker (Me). I’m still not sure if they clapped enthusiastically because I did a good job or because I was done in a timely fashion so they could git fishn..
Diversity all over the place. Why there were canoes, pontoons, big, little, old, new, and the guys were as different as the boats. I think I got about 3/4 of the guys in the picture as I was being introduced.
Here is the starting point but not the gist of it.You guys have been telling stories all morning. . I want you to realize that your life is one big story and you only get one shot at it.” I followed with stories and points and ended quickly as we are fishermen, and fishing takes valuable time.
Thanks for the pictures guys
Without hesitation, these guys are helping each others story. As much as they love fishing, they realize that we only live in the dash between the numbers on our headstone someday. All the stories that we make happen on the water are much more important than the catching. Thanks for a great day Marty and gang.
Some write, some garden, others have their various go to activities but I fish. Fishing is my all purpose activity cure for, well, about anything. Sad? go fishing. Happy? I mean too happy? go fishing! Need some reflection time? Need to pray? (we all do), go fishing. Need to feel like you are helping others? That’s what fishing buddies are for! I rest my case. If you can’t help the other guy(s) in the boat with your expert advice you haven’t spent enough time on the water. We can talk later (preferably in a boat) about logical syllogisms.
Being it’s been a long time since writing anything down, you guessed it, I went fishing. My fishing buddy had his boat more ready than mine and we needed some talk time as life has thrown us some mean curve balls lately and it was opening fishing day here in Wisconsin.
Hey G.W. I took pictures to prove it, ducks and all. A good evening of fishing
The fishing is always good. Sometimes the catching is iffy. Last night we did good for a season opener. Our conversation was exceptional and the evening was magnificent on the water. Get out there people and have an adventure in the outdoors gifted us by an awesome Creator! (I can already hear an amen from the other end of the boat).
Please follow this flowing stream of words around a few bends of thought.
The southernmost neighbor asked a friend if he could use his tractor and snow blower for our driveway. I think he saved us all a lot of money. I sent him a text “hey neighbor,awesome job blowing out the drive. I want to make sure you include me on the expenses so I do my part” He texted back “I got it covered, thanks”
So how did we get to be such good neighbors? Ah, relational questions. let’s continue.
This weekend my northernmost neighbor visited his cabin. His offshoot of a driveway was partially plowed (only to his shovel barely sticking out of a drift). He couldn’t possibly shovel the rest of the way as it would take all weekend. He bought a big walk behind snow blower. A couple hours later he made it to the garage, then the house.
Listen in on our conversation and get a feel for our relationship. Me, “great job blowing snow!, I didn’t know you had a blower.” Neighbor, “I had to go buy a blower just to get in, so if you ever need a blower, I’ve got a good one.” Me, “thanks man, did you buy it from the dealer down the road?” Neighbor, “nope, I took one look at the place and decided they know nothing about blowers.”
Stop right here! This is a worldwide problem. The fix is as hard as changing our DNA
I drove to the local sales place just to take some pictures. I dare say that they could sell 10 times the number of snow blowers if they used some of them to blow their own snow. That tractor with a snowblower attachment would have sold (many possibly) by now. I’ve been in sales and it’s a good idea (and requires a little extra work).
Here’s the deal: Life’s storms heap a mess on us way too often. We all end up with issues in our lives more often than we care to think about. Relationships with our neighbors, co-workers, bosses, businesses and even between politicians (gasp). I’m telling you, it’s in our DNA to mess up life with each other.
What would America or any other nation look like if just our politicians interacted like my neighbors and I? We don’t know each other very well. We have quite different belief systems and philosophies in how to do life yet tackle issues common to us together. We do have one thing in common though We know how to go the extra mile.
I have a few suggestions, just to counteract our natural DNA bent as people
Go the extra mile. Don’t be lazy. Blow out the snow if you sell snow blowers. What ever product you are touting, make it look like it will serve others well. Have an extra good blower for the closest church to blow out peoples drives and walks that cannot do it themselves. Why? because you care…right? And, yes, there is a cost to caring, initially.
Go the extra mile. Visit and meet your neighbor, let them know you are there for them when you have established a little trust. Bring them cookies or do something out of your way with no strings attached because you are and will be a good neighbor. Teach and model how to be a good neighbor. You can do this …right? The proof that you are a good neighbor is when they begin to be one to you.
Go the extra mile. Make your social media of such that strangers who think way different than you would like to emulate you. Arguments, no matter how “right” you are do not solve problems, they only make the relational and ideological rifts further apart.
Go the extra mile. I’ll say it again, do not keep score. My neighbor just bought me an appliance dolly. “They were on sale” he said. I thanked him profusely. I didn’t see that coming but I think he is trying and not succeeding in keeping score. I have told him that I grew up in a family that does not keep score but we help when we can.
Go the extra mile. Spend a little extra money on people. Make being relational with others a priority. The world is too small for several billion people running around with me, me, me first actions. The money is less important than people. feel free to disagree with that one because that’s a hard one to act out in real life. I once paid way too much for a car from a student trying to get to college. I was in college at the time. It hurt but I had a full time job and full time college load. He needed it more.
As I type and twitch a little, I have asked a guy who really needs some extra cash to shovel off our house. He has a newborn at the house and has some needs. Here’s the twitch. He gave me a low bid. Great! I told him when he is done we will review the bid and I will pay more if warranted. Trust me, it will be warranted and I will insist even if he says it is OK. It will cost some extra money but on this one he needs me to choose the extra mile this time.
The extra mile is an investment in one’s character and should be a valued thread woven throughout our society. It starts with each one of us personally. It’s hard work that pays huge dividends realized by many others down the road.
Now, my disclaimer: I can be a good negotiator when needed. I might buy something cheaper than you intended to sell it for. Sorry. I will probably turn and give it to the roof guy.
My Testimony: All this to say I have no claims on sainthood. Any claims to the molding of my character are credited to knowing Jesus Christ. This works! Does it make sense that being a follower of Jesus pushes me to emulate His ways and character? No one becomes like Christ by sheer will power. Jesus changes our natural DNA character…ever so slowly over time. This is what makes me tick. Jesus is my most important relationship
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)
I should really sell snowblowers with “Go the extra mile” stickers on them. That’s a clue for the clueless (people like me sometimes) to do the neighbors drive if needed.
I’m quite sure you can identify the places where you may need to go the extra mile. Make it so and your world will be a better place. It comes back around. eventually.
Update: Ok guys, fess up. Two days after I posted this, the sales place all of a sudden displayed their wares snow free. Either the owner is back from Hawaii (?) or somebody gave them a call. Maybe coincidence? Anyway, good for them…I might buy that tractor.
How’s that for a statement. And yes, you can fashion up if it makes you feel better.
But while I have you here I will give you a few tips on thriving in weather below zero. My personal best was dressing for -52 degrees without the wind chill factored in. I stayed warm for a few hours in that weather but it doesn’t happen without some winter knowledge.
Remember rule #1. Stay warm! That’s it. Do what you need to do to stay warm for longer than you think you need to. Most other rules are subtitles under rule #1 by the way.
I’m modeling my latest fleece lined wool pull-over here. You like it? It’s one of a kind. I designed it, I helped pick out the material and my wife made it. It’s warm with a long sleeved shirt underneath to +35 degrees. I put a thick fleece jacket under to inactively stay warm to +10 and actively warm to -10 degrees. I can put a down parka over to stay inactively warm to -35.
I am wearing a wool stocking cap, wool fingerless gloves to push camera buttons and lined leather gloves which will keep me warm for 20 minutes at -10. The boots have a thinsulate lining good for 20 minutes at -10.
Oh, you noticed the blue jeans did you? I will stay warm in them for 20 minutes at -10. my wife would stay warm in them for two minutes. Her legs get cold quickly. Everything else freezes in sequence. If I was with her I would be part of that sequence.
Do you know how to stay warm in the clothes you have? Every day I see cold people with tennis shoes, no gloves or mitts, an unzipped expensive jacket and no headwear. They rush from the house to the car, then the car to the store and on to work exclaiming “It’s cold out there”. In my mind I’m thinking…well you know what I’m thinking.
So much for my fashion walk–up the freshly plowed driveway–but I’m warm for those 5 minutes at -10 degrees. As far as fashion; you have already concluded that I am like a farmer…out standing in his field!
This morning seemed like a good time to shovel some snow off the roof. It’s knee deep up there and the skylights are covered. There is heat loss around a skylight, ice dams build up and any melting water backs up under the shingles and leaks into the house eventually. It was now eventually.
I found our huge snow scoop, leaned the ladder to the roof and up I went. There is quite a trick in getting on and off a ladder onto a tilted surface covered with two feet of snow and ice. What’s the worst that could happen? I swung a leg around the ladder and made it onto the roof safely while dragging the scoop. The riskiest part was over except for getting down. But, down is down and I can sometimes just jump off the roof into the snowbank…fun times. Who needs a ladder to get down?
I found the kitchen skylights, scooped lots of snow down the roof making paths with each push of snow off the roof. I was on the top side of skylight #2 when I must have done something wrong. My back went out with severe muscle spasms helping the lower vertebrae attempt to go in different directions. I flopped down on my back in the snow as the spasms made my legs quit working. Trying to move made the spasms come back. It has been 10 years from the last back injury and my back is (was) stronger than ever so I didn’t see that coming.
I mean I really didn’t see that coming!
My first thought “this is quite a predicament”. My thought process began scrolling through the options. “Maybe I could roll off the roof? um no, Maybe roll to the ladder? No, I would roll over the skylight and There is a row of deep snow to roll through in front of the ladder. Maybe I could sit up and scoot to the ladder then drop into a snowbank? No, I would never get out of the snowbank and the cut-off bushes underneath could spear me. I don’t feel lucky today. Helicopter? How embarrassing.
I scooted (it hurt) downhill to the ladder, finally made it to a standing position, made it on to the ladder after 3 tries (that really hurt) and finally made it down very slowly one rung at a time (yep,ouch). I waded (over my knees) in the deep snow to the house (that hurt the most).
Here I sit with a thousand thoughts. You do it too whenever life throws a curve. We are reduced to what matters most with what we can do. Over half of my time is spent managing back pain and pangs so far. When did I become so self absorbed? This has got to stop…ouch. My back just made a joke, “I’m Back” (not funny!)
So much of life we do not see coming. We are not in control ultimately. We are like my very young grandson who loves walking around the house saying “I’m in chaage” (sounds like it’s spelled) to anyone who would ask him to do something.
Meanwhile, here I sit, in complete chaage of my life.
I am reminded of the Proverb “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Our Doings sure make us think we are in control don’t they? Sometimes God reminds us of how much we cannot do and how much we are not in chaage.
Phone rings “How are you doing? I’m fine, got everything under control here Dear (shes away on a trip). I’m in Chaage!
Our brains are truly wonderful. They constantly gather information, categorize it under hundreds of headings and constantly crosscheck it as relevant or irrelevant even while simple conversations are going on.
I have been looking into making my own venison jerky for years, I guess, without even knowing it. When my brother (who makes great jerky) mentioned that most people have enough seasonings in their pantry to make a ton of good jerky, several of my brains catalogue files came together in special session and realigned my priorities while I was sleeping (I guess). I could use up all our seasonings for a worthy cause!
After much rigamarole, wrangling funds and allowing a friend to give me about 40 pounds of venison he or his wife didn’t want to cook; I somehow ended up with a great dehydrator, top of the line jerky shooter and a nice vacuum sealer. 15 pounds of venison was thawing as the UPS guy braved last weeks -60 below wind chills and our blown in driveway to deliver these hot items. “Blasted Superbowl” he muttered. Huh; “I’m not the only one” I thought.
All triggered by something someone said. Scary huh? It’s too bad I didn’t pay a little more attention to a recipe but my brain doesn’t really pay much attention to some of the finer details. I put some of everything in and a lot of a few of them as they would soon expire. I now have 15 lbs of venison reduced to some of the best jerky on the planet with some brilliant aftertaste (it might be the ghost pepper got away from me??)
My wife and daughter say the spices could be cut down by 80% and refuse to participate in the sacred superbowl snack till you drop event tonight. I think they are miffed that I didn’t do this much earlier in life and feel neglected, but I promised to make it up to them. I have 25 more pounds of venison to soak up the rest of the old seasonings.
Hey, it’s still cheaper than buying a ticket and going to the game.
(ME) Seriously, this jerky is really good! (Daughter) keep telling yourself that!
Dad used to say to me when I was quite young, “Lean into your work son”. 6 AM morning chores on the farm before school. I wasn’t even awake. I have a lifetime of leaning. What and who we lean on becomes apparent and important.
My wife gave me a card 8 years ago that said “Good for one day of fishing with me”. I might have treated it a bit like a gift card where you can buy several things at various times whenever the case of whims come. She seemed to be OK with that, after all, We raised a family on adventure and faith.
I’m not sure how many gazillion factors enter into having a wonderful life. We can live vivaciously, map out adventures and do all the things paperbound experts recommend; but it may not translate into having a great life. If love were currency we would be rich.
She doesn’t love fishing. She loves me. I don’t think for a minute she was won over by my looks or charm over the last 44+ years . Love was a decision on her part. An equal decision on mine as well. Together we have leaned into life, leaned into each other and leaned into following Jesus.
Jobs and money: We are not lucky. We have been downsized, outsourced, eliminated, laid off, and flooded out of town. Our middle daughter was born with Spina Bifida. 35 surgeries, life flighted, several times coin flipping on live or die in E.R. We care for her 24/7 these days. Love is a decision with action and follow through. Lean into life. Lean into loving God and each other. Take pictures in the rain, fog and when the sun shines.
Above all, no matter what life has thrown at you. Cut out time for adventure. Choose to love and stay on the road no matter how slippery the conditions get in tough times. I have a picture of that road…You might relate, especially if you have bald tires, a loose steering wheel and two wheel drive. “Jesus Take The Wheel”
I still remember mom leaning into me, put her frail arms loosely around me and in my ear I heard what would become her last words to me “Hows my boy?” At her funeral we sang her favorite song “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus”. Mom had learned to lean well.