Showing posts from October, 2015

Down the Trail

My son Ben is going on a backpacking trip to the Porcupine Mountains tomorrow with a friend and his brother and father. After a single night in a tent, they are hiking in about 5 miles and staying in a "cabin" shelter that has no electricity or running water. It's basically just a roof over your head. It's a few steps above the tent, especially given as cold as it will be. I have to say I'm a little jealous. My wife reminded me that only two weeks ago I was fishing up north, so would have a hard time justifying another trip. At the same time, I like the thought of a trip where you're not hiking X number of miles per day, but rather a single, long hike to a cabin. Furthermore, it'd be a chance to get one more snowless (relatively) adventure in before winter.  Needless to say, the trip was planned they'll go off tomorrow. But tonight as I helped Ben pack, it occurred to me how big/mature he's getting. One of his packing techniques involved

Things Rattling Around

Every once in a great while I need a post where I just do a brain dump of everything I'm thinking about or have thought about in the last while. This is one of those random thought posts. Bear with me. Is there possibly any better smell in the Fall season than burning leaves? I think not. The smell instantly takes me places. Today, for some reason, the smell took me back to a fall day when me and three high school friends took a couple of canoes and paddled down a portion of the St. Croix river. On that day, I smelled burning leaves, much like today and perhaps because it was us "kids" doing an adult thing, it stuck in my memory. Pair it with a familiar smell and, well, there I was doing my best time jump back 35 years or so. I got a new phone today. The whole experience is certainly a peephole into Hell, if not a full-fledged trip there. The process, terms and paperwork are nothing short of exhausting. Because everything's on a "payment plan" it

Gridiron Reguritation

Seasonal Recollections from the early 70's It is a crisp Saturday morning in October of 1973. My 7th grade intramural team, the Vikings, is playing against the Dolphins, a tough opponent with a nifty, capable quarterback. It is fourth down and long, and as the team's punter, I am called on to put us in better field position using my foot. I'm standing eight yards behind the center and wearing my fear just beneath my hardware store shoulder pads. Being an intramural league, my coach stands two yards behind me as kind of a poor man's helmet microphone; coaching by proxy. Through the bulk of my mouthguard, I shout out commands to our center. "Down. Set. Hut one, hut two!" Every snap is different. This time, the center hikes the ball toward me, this time sending a low, wobbling semi- spiral. The ball hits me squarely in the hands, but for some reason after catching it they choose to relax for no good reason, and I drop the ball. On this day, God is mercif

What It's All About

I just returned today from my annual muskie fishing trip. It was another tough year with nary a fish sighting all weekend. Much like last year, the lakes were in the middle of what is known as "the turn." I'm not sure of all of the details, but basically, when it starts getting cold out, the warm water gets pushed down and the lakes become clouded with stuff from the lake bottom. This makes the fishing slower until a week or two after it when things have cleared. Like last year, I'm a little bummed out that I didn't come away with a fish picture. Then, as we were driving home, I got to thinking that the Muskie trip is so much more than just the fish. It's about ...being in a boat with two good friends and laughing until my side hurts. ...seeing two eagles perched in the top of a Jack Pine. ...having your friend warn you about the rock bar on a new lake while using his boat and then promptly finding the rock bar the hard way. By the grace of God, no

Pleasant Reminders

As I packed for my upcoming Musky Fest weekend in northern Wisconsin, there were constant reminders of my brother Rob, who would have turned 52 years old today. I sorted and organized my tackle and lures, most of which were his at one time. During his sickness, he started giving his outdoor stuff away to family and friends. I got his musky fishing tackle, and Paul and Tom were given his ice fishing equipment. It makes this time of year bitter sweet for me. A couple of weeks after I received the tackle box, I remember looking in one of the pockets and finding a map for the BWCA for an area we frequented. It caused one of those blindsided moments of grief where I was glad no one was around. Somehow knowing that he'd used the map twenty some years ago was just too much to take. When I can, I like to pack a backup reel for this trip, in case something should happen to my main one. So I grabbed the one Rob gave me and, well, there he was again. This reel gave me some problems whe

The Smell of Two Stroke Smoke in the Morning

My friend Claude needed some help cutting some wood for an upcoming event at his house as well as his winter stash. So, he put a call out for a few of us from church to help out. He asked us to show up at 8:30 AM today and he'd have coffee, donuts and chainsaws. Now, I have to preface this post with the fact that I was raised a city boy. My house was deep in the middle of a pair of large cities, so I was not exposed to much in the way of country or farm living at all. That is why when I visit a farm or spend time at people's country homes I am like a little kid. Because I don't have much experience with a chainsaw, I stuck with the grunt work of hauling logs and stacking it. Claude has a couple of chainsaws and took the first shift cutting away. We all stood back and watched with our ear and eye protection while he cut through the big logs like butter with the Stihl saw. It was all two-stroke smoke and wood chips from there. We'd follow behind him and grab what h

Update From The Sick Ward

This likely won't be my most creative blog post. Because I'm sick. Sick, sick, sicky, sickly, sick. This cold is making the rounds at our house. Donna was the first host, I got it next and Ben has the "light" version of it. And make all the man-cold references you want, but this one is kicking my butt. I am: up for an hour, down for two sick. stay home from work for two days sick.  delirious thrashing around in bed at 3:00 AM and 3:00 PM sick.  lose that 5 pounds you've been meaning to lose for six months in two days sick. never get too far from a box of Kleenex sick. I'm sure you've all been there.  There was a time last night at about 3:00 AM where I thought, ya know, I'm okay with dying. Death actually sounds pretty good right now. Because this sucks! My whole face hurt, my eyes were watering at random, my nostrils took turns getting plugged up. Heck, my teeth hurt. What's with that? There is no joy in sickness. So I flo

When Summer Falls Short

It seems every fall season I spend trying to catch up on home projects that I had every intention of working on in the spring and summer, but never quite get around to. I'm pretty certain that this is some sort of procrastinational (yes, I made that word up) disorder. Maybe some of you suffer from it too. I can't believe I'm alone in this. I've analyzed it extensively over the years and here's my conclusion. In this fine state of Wisconsin, we are blessed with, give or take, 90 nice days a year. By nice I mean, shirtsleeves and shorts without feeling terribly uncomfortable. I am a person who loves the outdoors, in almost any weather, actually. So, because I like to wear shorts, and I like to be outside, preferably on my bike, indoor projects take a back seat during good weather. Those days pile up and, well, before yo know it, it's October and I'm chasing the sunlight on projects that fill my weekends. Understand that I am fully aware of how to fix t

Noise Abatement

I'm reading a book called Being Peace , by Thich Nhat Hanh, a name I can only pronounce after a couple of fermented malt beverages. I'm only about thirty pages into the book, but I wanted to write a bit of what has captivated me. Hanh is Vietnamese Buddhist monk that writes about what it takes to walk towards enlightenment in our lives. He starts the story by laying the foundation that everything we do in the world, and everything everyone else does, has an effect on everything else. He describes life as all interconnected beauty. He goes on to mention a poem that we can adopt that will help us change our lives if we let them. It goes as follows. Breathing in, I calm my body Breathing out, I smile Dwelling in the present moment I know this is a wonderful moment These seem like such simple things to do, but can affect our outlook and behavior with minimal effort. He puts them in context after a great lead-in about the benefits of smiling and appreciating the immediat