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.

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.

Smokey Shadow

When we were kids, us siblings decided to sleep overnight in the huge haymow of the barn. Sleep in the hay! yea! (insert picture of actual barn)old barn

A big yard light gave off enough light through the top of the flopped open barn door to see enough, and enough dark to sleep. Maybe. The 12 foot wide barn door hung down on hinges attached to the lower header. It was big enough to climb up and sit on. One could view the whole farm yard from there. You can see the door in the picture between the two top windows.

  Rumors of cougar sightings didn’t daunt us at all. We were safe in the barn, or so we thought.

In the middle of the night we heard some very loud scratching on the side of the barn. No one moved. We quit breathing as the shadow of a monster cat walked across the back wall of the haymow. The shadow was 12 feet tall and his tail twitched slowly back and forth as if deciding what to do.

  I’ll speak for myself here as my siblings probably have various traumatic memories. Panic was my first temptation. A nano-second later my second thought was to blame my siblings for going along with the idea of sleeping in the middle of the haymow in  very confined sleeping bags. Cougar bait, that’s what we were.

My third thought was to turn around and look that cat in the eye. If we were going to be eaten, I wanted to look that cat in the eye. Well, um,  I kinda wanted to look that cat in the eye (with one eye?)

It was one of the barn cats on a leisurely stroll across the big door header highlighted by the yard light. It cast a huge scary shadow on the back wall. It was probably the same cat that had somehow gotten into the house (cats not allowed in house on the farm) and in the middle of the night had slowly walked down all the piano keys. That time I figured it was the death angel playing a hair raising music back drop for what he was about to do with one of us, probably me. (ya, haywire imagination here).

“Smokey” someone muttered

Now, as down through all of life, My siblings and I have faced our fears. There is always a fear, always scary shadows with more to come as we log in more time and experiences  in this life.

  I have learned and relearned to face the fear and quit looking at the shadow. 

The shadow was filled with a million imaginations while smokey strolled the doorway.

My siblings and I recently lost Mom, then Dad. Our parents looked cancer in the eye. They strolled, hobbled and passed through the valley of death. They both knew personally the Lord as their Shepherd. They both displayed a peace that passes all understanding to the rest of us. They both walked through the doorway of death into eternal light while we as siblings could only see the shadow.

Hey, we have scary shadows being cast everywhere. True peace is only found in Jesus Christ. In his words (which I have experienced in my short 64 years) kids memorial stone eml

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27   


The oft recited Psalm 23 was a favorite of both dad and mom.  (The valley of the shadow of death did not scare them)

They lived by Philippians 4:6-8  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think on these things.…


Traveling through a small town close to nowhere recently, I stopped at a small gas station in Northern Wisconsin. While browsing through both short aisles for some things to munch on I could tell the young, soon to be, cashier was being trained in by an older women who seemed insistent that she call her customers “honey”. I guess I was going to be practiced on very soon. I hear it when down south but Wisconsin? In the woods?

I placed the soda and chips on the counter and watched the nervous teen gather some courage to greet me. I nodded my head and gave her a slight smile. I waited and then heard her fumble her practiced line. What came out was “How you doing Homey?” She put a frozen smile on her reddening face, took my money and gave change. I turned my  cap a bit sideways, smiled, nodded and walked out the door while pretending to hitch up my pants. Man, those girls had a set of lungs for laughing. I could hear them after I got in my truck and shut the door. I wish I could have made the ole truck backfire.

Aside from an occasional fun moment, I long for real. Why is real so rare? Someone who is really interested in you, your need and maybe notice something about you. “hey, nice hat, what company logo is that? “I see you like hot and spicy chips. I couldn’t do that”

It’s not hard to be interested in other people. It’s easy to connect with strangers with a little practice. Don’t call them “honey” if it’s not naturally you, and “homey” is not recommended.

Go ahead, try it on the next cashier, church greeter, telemarketer and most of all on any little gas station personnel in Northern Wisconsin.


Cold Beauty

Frosty birch eml

I watched the cold foggy early morning come into the light. A magical fairyland I thought. One could just watch in awe at the transformation. The fog had rushed to form intricate crystals over everything. Odd. Something was odd, yet beautiful.

I closed my morning reading, sipped my strong morning coffee brew and silently said “I’m not going out there. Looks cold”. I looked. Three degrees Fahrenheit. I said a prayer “Thank you Lord for our warm house”. In my mind a voice answered back “come outside, I want to show you something”.  I went outside, for three seconds. I came, I saw, I froze. I went back into the house, put socks and boots and really warm stuff on and headed out with the camera.  Click on any picture and click the slide show.

Sigh…I almost missed it. I almost missed the stirring of my soul from depths within me. The combination of beauty, microscopic intricacy, emotion and frigid coldness strummed my inner heartstrings.

And the odd part? There was only frost on one side of the fence. Many of the trees were frosted on one side. Anything exposed to the tiny bit of air movement west to east had frost on the west side only.

It reminded me of a lot of people I know, warm to their group of friends and cold to the rest of the world. I came back into the house with cold camera fingers and another prayer on my mind “Lord help me to keep the frost off both sides of my heart”

Cold is beautiful, but only sometimes.




Wintering In Spirit

How does one fight depression?

I spend most winters slugging through a depression as do about 15% of the population. Right now I am waiting for the sun to peek out and quickly set from several days of moody weather. The clouds are lifting weather wise. My personal clouds seem to have settled in for awhile. However, I manage those clouds well, for moments, sometimes days, okay maybe for a little while. Take a peek at my world (pausing to grab the camera here) as I attempt to take action steps which are doubly hard as depression saps energy.

Getting out and doing something is the hardest thing to do. Even pursuing passions is hard. Very hard. Below are some action steps that I take or have taken intentionally. My first two pictures…tonight’s sunset. I wish they lasted more than five minutes. Jan 25 sunset 2020 emlsun lit ice 2eml

Seeing beauty in nature helps my inner being. It’s an action step and I love it anytime.

Back yard 2eml
Another action step: I crawled up on the roof for perspective…with the camera…last week
Fire embers to stare at
I often build a fire in the woods in the snow. There is something about staring into a fire, pondering life and thinking deeply.
tracy stir fry eml
Cooking something different: another action step to ward off depression.
colorado 2013 (4)
Taking a winter vacation. Mountain skiing or winter camping in the snow in remote BWCAW…I love both. This is keystone Colorado.
He Restores my soul eml (2)
One midwinter, My wife and I joined a team to Guatemala to help build homes.
Gray Squirrel in sumac 2eml
I watch 3 squirrels out our living room window often. Picture taken from our living room
Fall Oak in winter eml
My best action step is just getting out in nature to notice analogies of life (when not fishing).

This little oak tree refused to let Autumn go. There are so many things I don’t want to let go. If I could figure out how to let my depression go, I would. Maybe I reflect too much or maybe it’s as simple as a lack of vitamin D or the body processing the D poorly. Whatever the case, I refuse to become an obese couch potato.

I however am open to your suggestions. How do you fight the doldrums of winter? I have seen doctors on this issue. They tell me I have plenty of company in this world. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that my relationship with God is my foundation and my wife is a very stable rock in my life. I find strength to get out there. There is also a depth of being in walking through the valleys of life on many levels. I prefer being on the mountain top though. For now, the roof will do. Hey, I’m in Wisconsin and I have a great job…meanwhile, I love the snow and cold outside but my personal winter inside is hard.


Ice fishing cp eml
Yep, gotta get out on the lake more…who wants to go ice fishing?

Cold Cold Hands

“Grandpa, my hands are cold and I can’t find my gloves” said a small whimpering six year old voice behind me. I laid down my ice fishing auger and turned to see two little bare red hands extended out to me in the freezing temperatures. No gloves, 100 yards away from the semi-warm fish house, freezing temperatures with below zero wind chill and my grandson had wandered across the ice to find me with no gloves on. I had asked him to stay in the fish house while I drilled more holes to look for better fishing. He didn’t.

I took off my gloves and cradled his in my warm hands and gently cradled them while warming them. While he tried unsuccessfully to hide sniffles I was feeling my own father cradling my hands 59 years ago while adventuring in the woods to look for the perfect Christmas tree. I had managed to get very cold, was near death and I was only five. My father told how his much older brother had warmed his hands at -30 temperatures as they gathered firewood. His brother also told him how to keep his hands warm when they start getting cold as he told me and as I had told my son (another story) and now my grandson.

It’s not good to be cold.

My wife and I  stayed warm that day, caught fish

All other rules are associated with this rule. Another rule: don’t get wet (because you will get cold). Another: wear layers of warm enough clothes to keep you warm (or you will get cold). Yet another: keep active (or you will get cold).

My grandson violated about 10 rules for staying warm. After drilling holes through 18″ of ice and setting up our fold up fishing shelter, little man stepped into one of the 10″ augured holes up to his thigh in the icy water. I took his boot and sock off, wrung out the sock and boot lining, dumped the water out of his boot, took one of my boots off and a wool sock and put it on him. It was so big I folded it back over the foot for a double layer. I found a plastic bag to keep the sock and foot dry and put it up to his thigh under the pant-leg to keep him dry. Note to self: bring extra little clothing and gear next time. My grandson then left his gloves outside on the lake (lost them temporarily) because the fish house was warm enough.

Winter Pike on a spoon email
Catching fish through the ice with a stick, line and hook…it works well

My Perspective: it was a half mile hike across the lake against a chilly breeze pulling a sled loaded with all the ice fishing gear. I was hot and sweaty in the 15 minutes it took to get to the pickup at a brisk walk. My grandson sobbed all the way while I encouraged him to keep his hands (with his found gloves) under the armpits and keep moving to stay warm.

Grandsons perspective: We were miles from the pickup and grandpa made me run all the way back to warm me up, but it made my hands colder, my feet froze and my legs froze. Grandpa would’t let me ride in the sled (which would have made me warm) and I thought we would die.

  Some day little man, you will cradle your sons hands and remember grandpa (fondly).

A life perspective: My little guy thinks he got cold suddenly. He didn’t. It took time and a few wrong moves on his part. I knew he would feel warm within 5 minutes of getting to the pickup (he did). He got cold by not doing things to stay warm (as I suggested with warnings continuously).  He didn’t even know he was getting cold and there-in lies the danger. We easily drift toward cold family relationships, marriages, become obsolete in the work place, we don’t pay attention to the possibility of a meaningful relationship with God or just don’t pay attention to life itself around us.

Remember the number one rule, don’t get cold. Our natural default is to drift into having Cold Cold hands.


Life Flight update

My last Blog was from the hospital critical care unit. We almost lost our middle daughter. So many wanted an update, wrote kind words and said they were praying for her. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Stories abound. I may write about them in my spiritual blog later.

Tania is home now under strict monitoring by her personal doctor with a lot of check ups planned. She is stable (medically), has no memory of what happened and struggles emotionally as do we. Tania’s vitals, sodium levels and a host of other things are checking out good. Brain and kidney function will hopefully have no ill effect. She will always struggle with her condition of being born with Spina Bifida and 35 surgeries have taken their toll as well as kept her alive. She has a great mind in a body that doesn’t treat her very well. My wife is her care giver most of the time.

I wake up in the night and check to see if she is breathing…then I check to make sure my wife is. I guess it’s easy to mistrust the elements of life mostly taken for granted, like breathing and waking up the next morning.

Have a Merry Christmas and be thankful for even the smallest of things. Life is precious even when it’s hard. Trust God in all things and keep eternity in mind (it’s always close by) and get to know the author of Christmas