Saturday, January 23, 2021

Thank You!

 Thanks to everyone who sent their condolences on last weeks post regarding Daisy. We especially loved the ones that included your pictures and memories of her. She was a great dog with a big personality. We are slowly adjusting to life without Daisy. Everyday gets better. Dakota was lost for the first day or two but then she seemed better but the days after that, even to today, she regressed. As many of you know she was a rescue dog with some social issues. She was scared of everything, Barb and I included. She made great progress over the last couple of years and was a lot better than she was when we got her. What we did not realize was what a huge role Daisy played in that improvement. Now that Daisy is gone Dakota is a lot more withdrawn and is very skittish of even the smallest things; like us just walking across the room. Hopefully this will improve again over time.

One positive thing has come out of Daisy’s passing. That is it has revived our faith in humanity. Watching the news, one cannot help but lose that faith as the news sensationalizes everything by focusing on the radicals on both the left and the right. We received so many responses both on the blog and Facebook.  What Daisy’s passing and all the comments showed to us is that the news is focusing on the minority and that the majority of the population is in the middle and are really, really good people. So for that, we thank you also.

This past week was my week to try and injure myself. With the lower stair section finished it was time to tackle the upper stair section. I removed every other stair tread so Barb could stain and varnish them. While she was doing that I worked on the upper rail post. I am countersinking them below the floor and making them as tight we possible as we have had houses with wobbly stair posts and it is really frustrating!

My nemesis, the missing stair tread!

So there I am measuring, cutting the post, cutting the floor, doing a little notching to get the post to fit just right when I step backward on the stairs to come at the post from a different angle. Guess what? There was no stair tread there and down I go! My right leg was on the upper stair tread while my left leg went through the open space causing me to bend in way a body is not supposed to bend as I fell backwards. Luckily (I guess) my leg wedged in that opening preventing me from falling any further. Barb was not home at the time so I extricated myself and just kinda sat there for a few minutes. Sore and bruised I was able to get back at it but I sure felt it for a few days!

I am happy to report that all the stair treads are done and back in place, the posts are in and waiting for railings and spindles which we are supposed to get next week.

Kevin and Cheryl came over last Saturday for a few hours to watch football and help with a couple of things above my pay grade.  But first Barb took advantage of her new island to bake Kevin a pecan pie!

Our first job that day was scribing and fitting the vanity in the downstairs bath. You only get one chance at it and Kevin has years of experience doing things like that so I was happy he was willing to help.

Main bath vanity in place!

The other thing was putting a 45 on the live edge slab to go above our wood storage area. Barb had found a place that sells live edge blue pine slabs that would be perfect for the mantle. She bought one that was 18” wide about 10’ and 2” thick. Since we wanted a live edge on the front and one end it meant that we had to 45 one end and then splice in a piece on the end to create a live edge on the side. Again, above my paygrade. Kevin made the cut, glued and used a Krieg jig to countersink some screws attaching the two pieces. It turned out great!

Mantle under the TV and above the wood storage

We also went over to Dan and Bonnie's two days to help them with their new house. Yes, they too are building a new house! They got the best contractor in the area (Kevin) who started framing on Monday and by Thursday afternoon we had the trusses all up! 
Kevin getting ready to lift a wall
The first truss going up!

Last but certainly not least we celebrated Kevin's birthday at the Pringle bar on Wednesday night. It was not his actual birthday but it was close enough to celebrate it. They even decorated our table and provided Kevin with his own bucket of beer, tiara and a magic wand! 
The deer are enjoying the alfalfa bale we bought them, a 750# bale lasts 2-3 weeks depending on the weather. But it appears this guy found a way to get the whole top layer to itself!

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Remembering Daisy

Born in 2008 Daisy was a rambunctious puppy. We honestly did not know if we were going to make it through her puppy stage. I don’t remember how long it lasted but next thing we knew she was the perfect dog. We called her “the baby” because she was always on our lap, our legs or our feet and she loved, loved, loved laying on her back and having her belly rubbed!

In her early years she was Barb’s barrel race companion spending every weekend at a rodeo or some other barrel racing event. 

Puppy Daisy at one of her many horse shows

At one show they had a Calcutta when attendees bids on the barrel racers dogs for a race across the arena. The owners were on one end of the arena and the dogs on the other. Daisy won the by a landslide and the person who bet on her won over $100. Those who met her in her later years would find it hard to believe she could win any race unless it was to a dinner bell!

Once we hit the road she has been our constant companion for the past 7+ years, 24/7/365.  She has been from the east coast to the west coast, from Alaska to the far reaches of southern Florida. You could not ask for a better traveler, she was either sitting on our laps or laying on the center console watching the world go by. 

This was our first day one the road!

She was a frequent star in many of our blogs, in fact, more than once we would be walking through an RV park and someone would stop us and ask us “Is that Daisy?!?!”  As many of you know, she was a real trooper and let us pose her for many of her pictures.

It seems surreal that she is gone, the house seems empty and we are missing a huge part of our lives. She had many talents. She loved hunting and dog shows and would watch them intently and even try to attack the TV. 

She was also a rock hound with a super great nose. I could pick up any rock have her sit and throw it in a gravel area and she would find that exact rock and bring it back every time! Another one of her special talents was her “sit and spin” but this was not until her later years when her tumor started bothering her. She is also well known for always have to sit on someone’s foot in a group. We don’t know if it was a comfort thing or a dominance thing but she loved sitting on peoples feet!

It did not stop there. It started with Bailey and carried on to Dakota where she would literally sit on their backs (or heads)!

This past Friday stated out like any other day. Barb got up and went to Rapid City to run some errands and I stayed home to do some work on the stairs. Daisy had not eaten that morning and had not gone to the bathroom in over 24 hours but she has powered through days like this before. Little did we know at the time it was her last day. Daisy spent the day sleeping with Dakota, she went out a few times but no luck. 

Then she started shaking and throwing up, then would lay down and rest some more. Barb got home about 3:00 and it was more of the same.  

One of the hardest things about having an older dog is knowing when to take her in but she left us no question it was time. The vet was so nice. Typically they do not let you come in for the appointment, instead walking out to the car and taking your dog in. We did not think we would be able to go in with her but when they came out they asked if we wanted to come in.

Coming back home the house seems so empty, like something is missing. Even eating supper is not the same without her watching every forkful from my plate to my mouth. We know the pain will go away with time but she will forever be missed and forever in our hearts.  

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Becoming a Statistic

 Well, it finally happened. I had to go into the doctor. I started not feeling well the end of December. I can typically power through these illnesses without going to the doctor and I did this time too. Or so I thought. I started feeling well about 4 days later and was back at it at 100%. Then 4 days later it hit again. But this time I had symptoms that typically don't go away without some kind of medication so off to the doctor I went. But wait, our doctor in Hill City will not see me without a negative covid test from the clinic in Custer. The last thing I wanted was a 12' swab stuck up my nose! Barb called the Custer clinic and tried to get a covid test. They said that although some of my symptoms are "covid like" some are not so I should just walk into Urgent Care and see them about the symptoms I have where they will probably do a covid test as well. So off to the clinic I went. Because of my symptoms they would not let me in without an escort so I had to call them when I got there. A nurse checked me in over the phone then came to the door to escort me in. Directly to an exam room. Hey, personal service, so far this is not so bad! The nurse then went over my symptoms, she said she was going to do a covid test which would take about 15 minutes to get results. The swab was  easy peasy, just a small swab, Then the doctor came in and again went over my symptoms. When I told her I had been taking Amoxicillin for the past week you should have seen the look on her face! She asked me where I got those.... When I said Mexico I thought she was going to faint! Good humor. Ends up my test was negative but I did have a viral infection (No Dino, it is not an STD!) and she prescribed me an antibiotic.  If I would have just held out a few more days I would have cured myself! So although I have become a statistic here in South Dakota and I guess nationally, I landed on the right side of the equation....for now....

Daisy has powered through another week. The vet said that eventually the tumor will become so big that she will not be able to go to the bathroom so we watch her like a hawk when she goes outside. The funny thing is is that Daisy likes to hide when she goes to the bathroom. In the warmer weather she wanders off in the bushes so we cannot see her. During these colder spells she does not wander as far but she always turns her back to us when she is doing her thing. It is like "I can't see you, you can't see me" But she always peeks over her shoulder to see if we are watching and recently Barb is always watching. Barb watches for 2 reasons. One is to see if she goes, the other is that she is out there for so long, the deer get curious and walk up to Daisy to see what is going on. Barb often has to go out there and has to stand between Daisy and the deer!

Barb standing guard between Daisy and the deer

I know this is the topic you were all hoping to read about when you opened our blog this morning and Dino, I hope you are eating breakfast. I just wish I could post a picture as gross as the one you posted of your puss fill scared up meaty hand the other week. I don't think I ate for 3 days after seeing that one! Anyway, for two days Barb watched Daisy and the poor thing would go out there, assume the position and try and try but nothing. So Barb kept upping her meds trying to loosing things up then one day success! Daisy is good for a few more days! She is in great spirits and is eating well so we just carry on...
Daisy and Dakota watching me eat. You can tell she is still food crazed!

On the house side we got the lower section of the stair treads and risers completely done. We went with dark treads and natural risers and love the way they turned out. 

We also got the last few boards we needed to finish off the T&G in the hallway so we can cross that off our list. 

Finally done!

The big news of the week is that we got our countertops!

There are two pieces that make up the main countertop and how they joined them was quite interesting. They put adhesive between the two pieces and uses a vacuum clamp that drew and held the two pieces together. Unless you look really close you cannot even tell there is a seam there. 

Vacuum clamp

The countertops themselves are a leathered granite with a chiseled edge. The island is 84"x43" and the guys said it weighed about 750#'s. I also put outlets on each side of the island this week, installed the dishwasher and hooked up the sink so we finally have a fully functional kitchen! Still waiting on that darn refrigerator but thanks to Dan and Bonnie we still have our trusty old white one!

There was one hiccup though. They brought the wrong sink. Barb had ordered a two compartment undermount sink with a low divider. Well, they sent a two compartment undermount sink with a high divider. Barb was not happy. I did not think it was a big deal but apparently it is. I could not understand what the big deal was and Barb said "Let me put it this way, say you order a new bow, the bow of your dreams and you order the perfect sight to go on it and when you get it, the wrong sight was on it. What would you do?" Or she said something like that because all I heard was "Wah, wah, wah wah, You can order the bow of your dreams and a sight, wah, wah, wah. So guess what, I now have a black eye but I am getting a new bow!

By the way, they are bringing out a new sink next week. I wonder which will come first, her sink or my bow?!?!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

What a Strange, Strange World we Live in!

Just when you were thankful that 2020 was over and the world could not get any more bizarre an event happened this past week that left me staring at the TV in utter disbelief. If you are like me, you were probably shaking your head thinking “What a strange, strange world we live in!”  Most of you know of the event I am speaking of…. The Brown’s making the playoffs!?!?! With the longest playoff drought of all the teams, the Browns had not made the playoffs since 2002. What is this world coming to?!?!?! What other weirdness will 2021 bring?

Let’s see, what else weird happened this week….. Oh! We got our appliances! Well, most of them. We had ordered them in mid-September, we were hoping to take delivery by Thanksgiving, then Christmas but delay after delay kept pushing out the delivery date. Then we finally received a call saying that the stove and dishwasher were in. Sadly, the fridge was still delayed. Apparently a lot of the refrigerator companies are making ventilators in addition to refrigerators thus the delay. But we will take what we can get!

Also this week I worked on sheetrocking the main bath while Barb worked on the T&G in the hallway. Everything was going well for me. Sheetrock was up on the ceiling and vanity wall. I got it taped, mudded and was ready to slide the new vanity in place. When I went to cut the holes in the back of the vanity for the drain and water lines I discovered the waterlines coming out of the wall were going to hit the vanity right where the drawers are! Ugh! So I proceeded to tear out that piece of sheetrock on the wall, move the waterlines, put the sheetrock back up, tape and mud. There was a waste of a day!

Then I cut the holes in the back of the vanity and slide it into place. Unfortunately it does not fit perfectly and requires some scribing which is above my paygrade so I will have to wait until Kevin comes over next time.

The hallway is really coming together but we were down to our last few T&G boards which were the worst of the worst. Barb got the east hall wall done then went to work on the west wall. The last dozen boards we had were so bent and twisted it just was not going to happen. She fought to make them work but in the end we tore them out and will have to wait until we buy a few more boards.
The ceiling and sides are done!
Then we went to work on the stairs. After months of staring through the studs into the area under the stairs it was time to cover them up. Barb tackled this project pretty much by herself and it looks great! The next step is to stain and varnish the stair treads and put everything back together. 

Two more big news items for the week. I don’t know which one is bigger but I will start with the internet. After years of dealing with our Mifi with supposedly “unlimited” gigs we have upgraded! Gone are the days where we have to worry about hitting our 15 gig high speed limit. I know many of you have felt the pain of going over your limit and dealing with being throttled down. We now have fiberoptics run right into the house and could not be happier! They ran a temporary line over ¼ mile long along our fenceline. They will bury it in the spring when the ground thaws.

The other big news is that Barb applied for Social Security! You can start applying a couple of months prior to your 62nd birthday and we wanted to be right on it. The other thing we talked about was getting a new Jeep when she started getting her SS. Although her birthday is still a couple months away, we thought we would just go to the dealership and start looking to narrow down what model, color, options we wanted so when we were ready to buy we would know what we wanted. We knew we wanted the 3.6 liter engine with a 6 speed manual. We thought we wanted a Wrangler but were open to looking at other models and we wanted something with less than 30,000 miles on it, so off to the dealership we went!

5 hours later we were driving home with a new (to us) Jeep! What just happened?!?!?!?

It has been a few days and the expected buyer’s remorse has not set in so we must have made the right decision. It had the right engine, was a 6 speed manual, we loved the color, had only 17,000 miles on it and it was in our price range! It was like it was meant to be!

Speaking of Barb, she did it again this week. Although this time instead of injuring her hand, it was her face. Of course it was my fault as I had bought some 12' mesh panels which were in the back of the truck. Being 12', they extended 4' beyond the bed of the truck and you guessed it, she walked around the back of the truck and walked right into them slicing open the bridge of her nose. I just so happened that we were at the Jeep dealer when it happened so she was in the truck quite a bit trying to get it to stop bleeding. The next day (and the next several) she also had a black eye. For some strange reason she would not let me take a picture of it!

Life is not all peaches and cream though as our little Daisy has been going downhill fast the past few weeks. For those of you who didn’t know, she was diagnosed with cancer and was given 8 weeks to live. We took her to a total of 3 vets to see if there is anything we could do and all three said it was an aggressive mass blocking her colon and there was nothing we could do eventually the mass would block her up entirely and she would not be able to go to the bathroom. So we gave her stool softener to make things easier for her. That was February of 2019 and she has powered through for almost two years! We have her checked every few months and much to the astonishment of the vets, the tumor has not grown. But last week we noticed a significant change in her personality; withdrawn, not eating as much and having accidents in the house. So Barb took her to the vet. The tumor has still not grown but they did discover a softball sized mass in her stomach. Barb brought her home and she just laid around that day, would not walk or lift her head, still would not eat and would try but could not go to the bathroom. That was Friday, January 1st. We made the decision that when the vet opened up the next day we would take her down there. Well, she must have heard us talking as when we woke up the next morning she was jumping up and down wanted her breakfast! It has been just over a week and she is rallying once again! We upped her stool softner and everything seems to be going well. You just don't want to be behind her when she sneezes! It has been just over a week and she is back to her “normal” self. We know the end is near, it could be a week, it could be a month, heck, it could be a little longer than that but are happy that we have been blessed with an additional 2 years we did not think we would get….

Friday, January 1, 2021

More of our Favorite Destinations, Christmas and a Birthday!

In our last post we talked about our favorite destination. Truthfully, Pasha Lake Cabins (PLC) is probably our top destination but the scenery, sense of adventure and newness of Alaska (to us) are why we featured it in our last post. But for us, Pasha Lake offers all the adventure one could ask for in Ontario! We have been friends with owners Chad and Michelle for years, actually since before they even owned the resort. Chad and I worked together for years "back in the day". Michelle worked there too in another department. Then Chad came to me one day and we had a conversation that changed our lives forever. It went something like this..... 

(Chad) "I have some good news and some bad news" (Jim) "Ah great, what did you do now?" (Chad) "I have to quit, Michelle and I bought a fishing and hunting resort in Ontario. You and Barb are welcome to come up whenever you want though" (Jim) "I thought you said you had some bad news."

That was 15 years ago and we have been up there every year since except two. You guessed it, 2016 when we went to Alaska and 2020. When we were working Barb and I would spend almost all our vacation time up there, when we retired I spent my first month of retirement up there. Since then our stays have been a minimum of a month and over 4 months. If you are into walleye fishing I don't think you will find a place with better fishing. Barb and I have had several 100+ fish days. Not just numbers but consider the fact that most of them are over 20" with our largest ones over 30"! Don't believe me? Check out our videos on YouTube of several of our fishing adventures. 

I enlarged my picture a little more to make it look bigger
They also have incredible fishing for Northern Pike, Lake Trout, Splake, Brook Trout.... and several other species. Their accommodations include almost a dozen cabins housing 4-12 people, tent sites and several fullhook up RV sites.
Barb with a 43" Northern
They also offer bear hunting and over the years I have taken several really nice bears. We have watched Chad and Michelle grow their business and grow their family in the past 15 years. In fact, their oldest son just turned 18. We also learned just how much work goes into running an operation like they have. You would think they get to get out fishing all the time? Wrong! They are too busy running the resort.  Just writing about Pasha Lake makes me want to skip Alaska next year and go up there instead. (Don't worry Sister Judy we are still planning on Alaska!).

In addition to Chad, Michelle and the adventures we have made some great friends up there so it checks all three boxes on what it takes to make a top destination!

But again, for now all we can do is stare out the window at the snow and dream about our next adventure north.

Christmas on the J-B was fairly low key. We had a great afternoon/evening with Kevin and Cheryl. Barb cooked a prime rib on the pellet grill that has my mouth watering just reliving the experience. 

We are seriously lacking on our Christmas d├ęcor so were thrilled when my sister Judy sent us these Christmas Gnomes!

Thanks Judy!

Then a short few days later it was my birthday and I was another year older. 

It has been years since Barb has had an oven large enough to bake 2 round pans at one time so I was thrilled then she baked a layer cake!

That day we spent quietly at home as I was not feeling that well (I feel fine now). What did I get for my birthday you ask? I got a new laptop! I know several of you cringed when you read that as me and laptops don't get along very well. My last one only lasted a couple of weeks before I kneeled on it and totally destroyed the screen. I was able to use that for several years afterward with the cracked screen but it is now retired. The laptop prior to that one was not as fortunate as I left it on the roof of the car and only realized that when I heard it slide off, then saw it hit the trunk and bounce several time before coming to rest on the asphalt.

Although you cannot see the cracked screen, the duct tape is a dead giveaway that this is the old one. Fingers crossed my new one stays in better shape!

Barb and I received two very special gifts from Farmer Bob and DeAnne up in North Dakota. DeAnne is a quilter and were thrilled when we opened the package and saw this.....

If you look closely you can see Barb's fingers holding up the top

But the next item was the one I was most proud of....

I guess they felt sorry for me after this post a few months ago and were maybe fearful that we would not show up in the spring. Or maybe, just maybe, they felt sorry for Barb a few months ago  when they gave her the Employee of the Month honors and were just waiting for the end year to present the real award! When I mentioned to Barb that this certificate will look great on the mantle of our fireplace, she said "Yeah, just like the leg lamp in Christmas Story!" I myself, have to agree, that leg lamp is the coolest!

To be fair, this guy was the only other competition....

The grossest moment of the week happened just this afternoon and no it was not the picture of Dino's oozing stiches that he felt he needed to post on Facebook right when most of America is eating breakfast. It was when Barb and I were working on the ceiling in the hallway. She went to pick up a 16' board when I heard her cry out and drop the board. When I looked over right thumb is bent at an ungodly position like a zombie in one of Dino favorite movies. Like the true man that I am I covered my eyes with my hands and peeked at her hand through my fingers. When I do, I see Barb pulling on her thumb to get it back into position. I about threw up on the spot! After a minute of rest she picked up the board and we carried on. I now know who the tough one in the relationship is!