Uncluttering: What is Where?

The picture says it all. There are thousands of “finds” in dad’s shop. Just try to find something, specific. You can, umm…eventually. This is what moving onto mom and dad’s place can be like after they are gone.

Dads been gone awhile and everything here was a part of his life. I have siblings that will walk in, look around and then weep. Almost every item is a story and we do not want to forget any of our stories. But, dad is gone and he left a lot of stuff. Do you need a 7/16 wrench? we have about 30 of them, I think, somewhere. When dad couldn’t find the 9/16 wrench he just bought a new set.

It’s taken me 4 months to come up with 39 plans for a useable shop. The hardest part is getting past the clutter and potential inventory to prioritizing what and how we will use the shop. What stays, what goes, where is what? does what work? and, can we walk into the shop and grab it? It’s always been a family shop and it will continue to be that way so it might as well be useful.

When I stare at the image of the cluttered shop, I see life. I see the clutter that builds up in relationships when words are not put in their proper place. Angry words are kept and not thrown away. Broken promises are not mended, they are just put aside with the new promises. Generations hoard and pass on life clutter. Clutter becomes ingrained in culture. Honesty, truth and moral values become lost in the clutter and are deemed unusable in an end-justifies-the-means society. Even our faith can become so cluttered it ends up as a burden too heavy to drag around. Possibly too expensive to fix. Let’s face it, fixing clutter will cost us, often more than we want to pay. Like sin it also keeps us longer than we want to stay.

Clutter can be found everywhere. Imagine trying to have a conversation with someone who keeps looking at their text messages (Oh, you don’t have to imagine). Imagine trying to pray in the morning while thinking of all the things you need to get done for the day (no…not you too?). Imagine… and I believe you have already thought of an area you may want to unclutter, even you neat freaks!

What do you think? It’s a start and yes it’s the same shop. Piles are now gone and the pegboard is full of things that we can walk in the shop and find what we are looking for. New shelves are in place with more coming. Lot’s of intentional work from a vision of what it will be. I’m using tools that can now be found. Constant decluttering will be a new norm. Fixing or replacing the broken, fences, gates, signs, posts, faith, prayer and all kinds of relationships. Decluttering.

Now I can go fishing or sit down and have coffee with my wife. I can get up early in the morning, read, pray, take some pictures from the deck in bare feet as the day dawns. I am at peace as the gathering winds of clutter are dissipating. “Honey, have you seen my shoes?”

“They are on the deck I think…it’s cold out there!” Oh, and that one set of footprints in the frost…they are m-m-m-mine.


Content in the Storm

Orphan fawn has adopted our place as it’s safe haven. Photo from the dinner table

Inconspicuous deer behind our deck, watchin me sipping coffee watching him.

It’s snowing and blowing and 28 degrees f. It feels like below zero weather. The deer is more at peace with the weather and winters outlook than I am, even after losing her mother.

What do you do in life’s storms? Dwell on all they have done to you? Fear what might be ahead?

What do you do with the wolves of life? Hide? Tremble at what may come?

Be safe and warm this winter little deer, there’s plenty of food and pines for shelter around our place

Remember: Yesterday and Tomorrow are thieves who trade empty coffers for our contentment Today.
The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance” (to the full, till it overflows, Jesus. John 10:10)

MY LIFE: In the hardest of storms God has been good…Gary

Bring Your (Good) Camera

Yes, I totally understand if you skip my ramblings and go straight to the pictures.

Life Lessons: Learned the easy way. I have a brother who claims he has learned most of the painful life lessons by watching his older brothers and then not doing that. The skeptic in me highly doubts that, even though he has quite a list of life choices which seem divinely guided (It is). He has broken more bones than me but I have more stiches and seem to be more accident prone by sheer lopsided statistics so we are even (I think). I’m not sure how our mother made it raising seven kids with extremely high risk taking penchants.

When I was 15, I acquired a “Farm Permit” to drive a vehicle within 25 miles of our farm. The “why” escapes me to this day, what was I thinking? I had raised my hand at the boys club meeting that I could supply a car and drive 80 miles into Canada for a week long camping trip. The club expedition leaders did not check my drivers license. The Canadian officials did not check my license at the border. The United States officials did not check my license even though they totally ransacked the car. I was the oldest one in the car at 15 and looked young for my age. But, dad found out and I was in more trouble than anyone else could have put me in.

Two things. 1) We can all agree here that I wasn’t thinking. Zero. Nada. Dad claimed this happened a lot. It still does. 2) I brought my first camera and four rolls of film. I totally mis-documented the trip with poor quality photos.

I learned that in one area of my life, I could actually pay attention to the details.

I’ve stretched paying attention to detail to a few other areas thankfully over the years. My value as a husband is determined by how much I invest in my wife and our relationship. My value as a father to 3 children, the same. being I value my relationship with God, I invest alone time meeting with my creator. I value capturing good images of life around me and the beauty God created should one pay attention to detail. I think God has rewarded that in my life.

So without further explanation I want to share a couple of photos with you as the scene was gifted me while fishing a few hours ago. This is the lake we live by. The same lake I have shared many stories from and will continue as it is intertwined within me from several generations back to the homesteading days.

Pictures taken from my boat between casts and unhooking fish. I brought my good camera and three different lens options, otherwise, one cannot begin to end up with images that look like what you saw through the view finder. I shoot on settings that do not wash the color out of the picture. I put the light sensor on the brightest area of the picture. I took these shots on my sports continuous shooting settings as I was standing in the boat with a stiff wind and rough water (because the fish were biting I did not go in to shore and use a tripod). and yes, Ted…Thank you for pushing me (you may have noticed these comments in other blogs comments section). I have started putting several of my photos on a free sharing website, but that’s another blog to come.

It’s my birthday today and this comes to mind as I am retirement age: Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them” Ecclesiastes 12:1

Sigh…That’s so true.


Life is Like a Bowl of Oatmeal?

life is like that you know. Add nothing and it’s plain. Stir too much and it’s mush. Let it set too long and you can patch pot holes in the road because it’s character is set in it’s ways.

How can one have a Gourmet oatmeal? I’m glad you asked. I took pictures. The grandkids line up for this (all but one), and yes, like life there are some added ingredients that will take more time. So, in the spirit of this harvest time lets just say your gourmet oatmeal will be a fruitful endeavor.

I love to dice fresh apples for a starter

While I put some water on the burner with a little salt in it, I diced up an apple to simmer for awhile before adding the oatmeal. Sometimes I dice up dry fruit (apricot, fig, apple, throw in blueberries and so on) and simmer a little longer. I’m not into prunes at this stage). Here’s my ingredient list in picture form.

Cinnamon, salt, brown sugar, honey, molasses, apple
Notice my subliminal tendencies? I have been known to go fishing, hence my measuring cup.

It might look like granola. About that…I like to use our home made granola which is mostly baked Old Fashioned rolled oats with pecans, sliced almonds, maple syrup and a bit of cinnamon. When it’s not available just use the oats and add the nuts and whatever else you find around the pantry to throw in (within reason). We are talking Gourmet oatmeal which like life takes time to add those ingredients that make it special and worth living, ur.. eating. I believe there is definitely overlap here. So yes, add a few touches of love throughout (and I sound like a movie).

Gourmet Oatmeal and a cup of Coffee in my Men’s Breakfast Coffee Mug (another project…make your own mug)

The real question is “Do you live a Gourmet Life?” It’s very possible that most of us struggle with taking the time for Gourmet anything. We live in a generic age with fast food, fast (and shallow-mushy) relationships, political and advertising sound bytes, instant foods and very expensive pills to combat the eventual side effects.

Make Gourmet Oatmeal sometime. It will take a little more time. Think about the ingredients of having a Gourmet Life while you do it. Think about these four areas: Mentally (a sound logical thinking mind), physically(Am I in good shape for my age?), socially (How am I at building relationships lately with no excuses) and spiritually (Do I have and am I growing in a relationship with God?).

I cannot resist this conclusion: It will take time but It Will Be very rewarding and Fruitful!

Addition: In the comments section Kim Smyth from Words on a Page added a very good oatmeal recipe for baked oatmeal. I finally tried it this morning and it is definitely worth passing on.

I put the almond slices and apple chunks in it, and blueberries on top. I might double the oatmeal part next time just so it will last longer…thanks Kim. Hmm now I’m wondering how peach slices would do on top..


Don’t Stay There

I sat out on the front deck this morning and snapped pictures of my thoughts. So many people I know are living in fear, shriveling up and dying in their loneliness.

Beauty is so fleeting, Enjoy it while it lasts
Adversity makes us show our true color. Love those Pines all seasons
Bald Eagle soaring, catching a nice current
Black Squirrel is more ready for winter than I am
God’s voice. Do you believe that?

When my dad was dying and in pain, I asked him if it was OK to invite some people over for a fish fry. He said he probably couldn’t be the life of the party but please do. It was hard on him physically. I could tell. Yet, after everyone had left he said “Today, was a good day” (it was my last feast with dad and a bunch of people) “When I am gone, promise me this house will ring with laughter for a long time”

Doing my best dad!

I will leave you (pun intended) with a picture of so many people who are living in fear. Don’t be there. Don’t stay there.

It looks like this over dad and moms graves. Some day ours.

There are no passages in the Bible that tell us to live in fear (except for fearing God). There is no disease, political landscape, media medium or power on earth worth listening to above hearing from God. Consider Jesus words  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

So…I sit mornings on the deck, read my Bible, let God speak to me and follow that voice. Sometimes I take pictures, sometimes journal and sometimes just pray for you and the other few who may read my scribblings.

The world sows fear. Jesus sows peace. No Jesus? or Know Jesus? Did you notice my bible passage picture? “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…”


Tell Me a Good Story

Gray owl after eating a mouse. This evenings picture from our front deck.

Life has changed, I retired and moved from a somewhat remote area in Wisconsin to a much more remote area of Minnesota. Very little television or news is allowed to frame our lives.

There is no sense in being goaded to be scared or mad as plenty of good news is out there. Plenty of real heroes abound (you know, good people making the world a better place) and I don’t think I am alone in wanting those stories to frame life.

I’ve been too busy to write as we moved into a somewhat neglected place and have made it handicapped accessible (wood floors, wider doorways, ramp outside and a lift in the garage) with lots of help from friends and family before winter hits. I have been fishing 14 times and hosted a couple fish frys and grilling extravaganzas for the neighbors and family, busy.

Boat restoration

My little story: I took a young neighbor fishing a few times in my good boat. He discovered he liked fishing (more the catching). He has some money so he wanted to buy my old boat. It is smaller, the deck was rotten and the two motors didn’t work.

I told him he could buy it cheap on one condition; we would repair it together and make it fishing ready before he could buy it from me. We did it and he now has a boat that I would like to buy back.

The old adage is true. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will have to buy a boat! Go Ned!

Ned and I caught a lot of fish

Oh, for the Ned stories! My boat buying friend. He tried to weed wack the pond grass in the deep part. Imagine a body builder type standing in a canoe weed whipping with a gas engine whipper out the side. Ya, you couldn’t balance that well either. How was I to know why he borrowed my canoe? Ned now knows that submerging a gas engine under water is a bad thing for the engine.

Last night Ned sunk his new tractor to the belly in the mud by said pond. I didn’t ask when pulling him out with our bigger tractor (from a distance with a whale of a tow strap).

We have the luxury of laughing together with a lot of head shaking. I keep telling him “Lets not go sky diving until we make it a month without a major mishap.” His reply “I’m not ready to see Jesus just yet!” Ya…we have been talking about eternal things. We should all be ready, not just the old retired people like me.

I want to hear stories, real life ones when I read your blogs, and I do read quite a bit. No pontificating without your experiencing a truth or insight. Tell me a good story. The world needs good stories to rightly re-frame.

Life Spice With a Hint of Eternity

Spice. a small dose is usually best. As in food, life needs spice or it gets quite bland. 

spices 2

So, I went fishing (so I could sample some fathers day spices on fish). I highly recommend this life spice (and the seasoning was great too).

Then, I heard about a huge patch of Lady Slippers nearby and visited with the camera. More life spice. Enjoy a walk through the Lady Slipper patch with me. Click on any picture to enlarge and a clickable slide show


I just shared two of my life spices. OK 3, I like to cook my fish as well as catch them.

The contrasts, eye-spice to the beholder. Coordinating color, various shades of greenery, and humble clovers. Even the insects spice up the elegant, beautiful and totally fragile Lady slipper as the sun shines through translucent leaves and petals. A quarter mile of lady slippers to notice. Most will never be noticed by any human being along this lonely backwoods stretch, except our creator, He notices us. We matter to him. He spices us up. in ways no one notices but him. Or, maybe it just seems that way.

Life Spice with a hint of eternity


And your life spices are??

Oh…Oh, just one more shot of our honeysuckle tree! You Like?Sunlit blooms eml


I Miss You Mom, But Still Telling On You.

Moms gardens were her passion. Dad always figured it might be her undoing and that in itself has provided stories. They had carved a place out of the woods for retirement to live happily ever after. For the most part it worked, but now it’s after.

Moms gardens in the woods needed protection, fences sort of worked. Adding an electric fence helped. A fake owl for birds, dog hair for the deer and music in the garden at night for the coons. Mom had it all except for one pesky  deer.

I dropped by for a visit to find dad laughing and mom in a huff. Dad pointed to the 30-30 rifle behind the door, pointed out the window at the little buck (seemed he was addicted) in the raspberry patch and chucked “I had to hide the shells from your mother. I just took the gun away from her as she was going to get some venison out of season.

Mom’s passion aside from gardening was her kids and grand kids. When her memory loss was taking over, her most earnest prayer was that she would never forget her kids. Sitting in the car weeping after her terminal cancer diagnosis, Dad told her “you know, God is answering your prayers, you won’t forget your kids”

SO I’m drinking a cup of coffee and munching on some home made venison jerky as I write this in mom’s honor. She was of the stock that settled the West. She wouldn’t have shot anybody (Just deer and critters for the stew pot) but she would have smacked them with her big bible. She love fiercely, spanked us freely and spoke truth even when it hurt.

Oh ya. And if salesmen or the local religious cult came around she was known to crack the door enough to let Apollo (the Doberman) check them out first.


Additional mom info:  I played a rendition of her favorite old hymn a couple days before she died…I will always remember the huge, bigger than life smile it brought. “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus” If you care to listen I posted it on you tube here  Mom’s piano legacy was written about earlier with my other blog.  simplicity-of-legacy

Stalking Beaver

My Inspiration: Brother Craig wrote about the Beaver. So relevant on many levels for today...Check out his poem here  Thanks Craig, you write so well!

A not-really not for bed-time story with the grandkids! 

Here I was, drifting in a canoe and minding my own business on an absolutely calm evening with the lake all to myself. I was catching a limit of crappies in the moon lit evening when the water was torpedoed by this angry beaver. Picture a cartoon character almost tipping the canoe over both ways several times…The furry demon was acting out the lake’s equivalent of road rage.
Evidently the lake was not big enough for the two of us even though it is almost a mile long. This big old beaver stalked me wherever I went. He would dive and surface beside the canoe and slap the water with his tail. It sounded like someone was throwing big boulders off a cliff into the water. Maybe he overdosed on sugar maple trees?
I finally went after him because the crappies quit biting. The beaver dove and disappeared; the frogs started croaking “jaws” music as daylight was gone. Even the moon was trying to get behind a cloud as its normal aura was being disgraced. A strange sense of evil settled about me so I quickly turned to look for the landing.

Night Photo (with flash) from angry beaver lake

I began having visions of the beaver eating my only wood paddle as I picked up the pace to get to the safety of shore, all the while pronouncing blessings on the early beaver trappers in this country. Crappie fishing might never have been discovered without those trappers. I realized the light was fading along with my grip on reality!

Strange things happen in the dark! Our mind adds to the strangeness, and literally if unchecked, the mind can become completely irrational.

Currently, I have solved that irrational mind problem by bringing 3 paddles with me when I fish in the dark

There are the things people laugh about by day and terrify by night. What is it about the mind that can embolden fear in dark places? Is it possible that darkness has its own powers? Could it be that the absence of light is a camouflaged environment for evil?

Whatever people think about the darkness, it’s easier to do wrong in the night. It’s easier to deceive and be deceived in the dark. It’s easier to imagine that unseen and undiscovered evil feels okay in a totally darkened and depraved mind.

We have one you know. We all know our minds are not perfect. We just aren’t. Only God can fix that. Only God. Even in the night with whatever demon is stalking us…Only God. MMM…Here’s our thinking: “I’m in charge of my life!” (until I’m not). Dear Friend TRY GOD.

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1; 4)

Sun over the Sea

About that beaver; He is back at the lodge telling the little ones a bed time story about his latest dangerous mission, driving away a terrible threat to the beaver kingdom and their way of life. The little beavers ahhh… in unison as he brings out a piece of a canoe paddle and lays it on the mantel.

Truth: 1) I took a picture of an angry beaver, he followed me everywhere and ruined my fishing, and I have a bit of an imagination sometimes.
2) God is light, we are not.
3) If there is light in us; it’s Jesus himself shining through us (that’s a lot of lumen s).
4) I really was catching a lot of crappies till that beaver started stalking me!

Unwinding Time

If I could stop the clock and unwind time. If only.

My thoughts as I have been converting old photos, slides and negatives to digital. Reliving feelings, adventures, projects,  kids, parents and siblings. Re-feeling hugs, challenges, adrenaline, splashing water. Re-hearing voices now gone, treasured moments and hard times.

Old Photo eml
Wow, now he has his own family (3 boys just like him)

I thought I would share this idea and a way to do this for those with old photos and extra time. The good news is that most of us with old pictures, negatives and slides can do it ourselves. This converter is working for me. It’s easy and works for me. I have done about 200 pictures so far. Check it out if interested. https://www.clearclick.tech/products/quickconvert-20-mp-photo-slide-negative-converter

Take a look at some of my photos. remember; If they are still good quality or poor quality, they transfer that way. You can put them into a program (provided) and help them a bit but a poor negative ends up being a very high resolution (14 or 22 mega pixel) poor picture. Here’s a slide show, just click on one and go from there.

Cliff diving, winter camping, leading wilderness trips, and family adventures. I realize you have no back story. You weren’t there to watch us cliff dive, sleep in a quinzhee at -38 degrees (F) in the remote wilderness, rescue a man from going over the waterfall then pose for a picture. Yes, those were quite tame deer. Yes, 35 years later all three kids on the 3 wheeler are still alive (we let our daughter do that????)

You have your own pictures and stories…put them out there. Now is a good time for this kind of project. You are welcome!

By the way, I do not get any $$ if you buy one of those machines…It just worked well for me. Those cliffs are still there if you want to do that. 55 feet up is a thrill but not a good time to practice landings. And yes, I know where lots of big fish are.