River Bottom Beagles


Rest in peace

Irene and I put Lisa’s ashes in her wagon and pulled them up to the hill where many of Lisa’s canine friends are buried yesterday. It’s a nice spot with a fine view of the river bottom, a trail from the house through the oak trees leads there. A good place to go and visit. A small gathering of close friends and family said their goodbyes. Uncle Randy read from the bible Lisa was given by her grandparents when she was young. It got her through confirmation and laid her to rest.

Hope was there, soaking up all the attention four little girls could give her. Turned out to be a nice day.

This may sound a little strange but when the simple oak box holding Lisa’s ashes was in the house I always felt like her spirit was there inside those walls. It’s not anything I could put into words, just kind of a comfortable feeling I had whenever I was there. Like when you come in from the cold and fill the stove and cover up on the couch with a warm blanket.

Last night all alone in the house, that feeling had gone cold. I started to wonder what I had done. It brought back the way it felt to loose her all over again.

Up early this morning long before daylight. I let Pumpkin and Love out and started loading up the dogs to head back to work. There was some thunder and lightning when I went to bed but now a full moon overhead lit up the fog that was filling up all the low ground. It was still and quiet. Where did Pumpkin go?

I heard her hit a trail behind the house. AAAAAOOOOOOOWWWWW! Such a loud, heavy voice. Hard to believe all that sound is coming from that little dog. Enough to send a chill down your spine. I walked that way to catch her, pulled along by the thrill I felt listening to her trail. Wondering what she was trailing and where it was going?

Pumpkin slowly trailed down through the yard to the scotch pines, then up through the oaks along the corn field and then right up to the cemetery. I called and Pumpkin came running down the trail through the oaks to meet me, wagging her tail so hard her whole body shook. I picked her up and looked up towards the cemetery a moment.

I thought life would get more “normal” and boring now. Guess not.




Fall picture


I Forget

Another Monday morning, driving back down south for the work week, going over my mental checklist to make sure I didn’t forget anything.

I have all the dogs this time. Cooler is here in the truck. Still have my wallet. Must be getting better.

Thinking about Mom, I better call her. Push the button on the steering wheel for the speaker phone. “Please say a command.” it says.

Call mom I say.

“No phone connected” it says. You forgot your phone it says.

Sometimes I feel like an NFL quarterback that’s taken one too many blows to the head.

Time heals they say. What they don’t say is that time makes you forget. I don’t want to forget. No, I want what I had. At least I want to remember what I had. Feels like I’m putting my best memories in a leaky boat and pushing them out into Lake Superior.

Hurts to remember sometimes. Maybe that will change with time. I don’t think so. I’m afraid I will just forget how it felt to lay in bed and rub Lisa’s back, or to stand in the kitchen and just hold her. The little things she said and the way she looked when she was happy.

But tonight I can close my eyes and remember just how it felt sitting in that recliner beside Lisa’s bed in Methodist Hospital while she slept and watching the sun rise over Rochester. I couldn’t sleep and my hip hurt from that chair and the nurses were in and out all night, but at that moment Lisa was OK and everything was quiet and peaceful.

And I can remember driving through Des Moines in the middle of the night in the new F-150 Lisa bought for me and playing her a song, North Dakota by Chris Knight. It’s kind of a ghost story about a guy that lost his wife. We were going to visit my mom right before Christmas in Olathe. She didn’t know we were coming so we called her when we got to Kansas City and asked her to put some coffee on. Lisa brought mom about 30 different kinds of Christmas cookies.

That morning years ago sitting in the restaurant at Bluefin Bay up by Grand Marais, they had the best breakfast, and the waitress thought we were newlyweds. It was the dead of winter and there was lots of snow and we spent the weekend there where we could look out at the open water on Lake Superior, just the two of us.

Tonight I still remember that stormy winter morning when Molly was about a year old, her and Lisa cuddling on the couch under Lisa’s big sleeping bag and then they both fell asleep. That’s how she looked when she was happy.


Still hangin’ on

It’s been a nice fall but the leaves are past their prime. Been below freezing a couple nights. Lot of frost.

Not sure what this is, some kind of prairie flower left over from the days when buffalo and elk used to graze here maybe.

Tough. Somehow survived cattle and plows, cold and wind and is still putting on a show, still making this a little nicer place to be.


A day at the beach

Sunny Beach, the girls call it. On the river down at the end of the hay field.







Be nice

Lisa was on the waiting list for a kidney/pancreas transplant for over two years. That meant literally waiting by the phone for that call. If you missed it they had to go to the next person in line. During that time her health slowly declined. There was a limit to how long she could wait. She was taken off the list for a while when they discovered heart attacks in her recent past. Three times they called and said they may have organs for her, only to find out hours later that they could not use them.

On 6/17/11 we got the call again, the next morning they called back and said why don’t you come down for your transplant. Our bags were already packed and waiting in the truck. Nobody had slept in this house that night. We were there hours early.

The surgery was difficult and lasted a long time. I spent it pacing back and forth in a crowded family waiting room. Later that evening the surgeon came to see me and said the kidney transplant had went well but he had a very hard time connecting the pancreas due to the amount of calcium (the stuff that makes bones) built up in Lisa’s arteries. He wasn’t sure if it would work. I asked if she could get another pancreas if this one didn’t work and he said no. We had pinned all our hopes on this for over two years.

When I checked at the nurses station they said I could see Lisa when they moved her out of recovery and brought her to her room, should be in a couple hours. Turned out to be more like four hours. You can not imagine the level of anxiety I was feeling. I had not slept in a long time and my brain had been working overtime. I checked in at the nurses desk so often they were trying to avoid me. I could not sit still or rest. Hadn’t eaten much in more than a day. I just had to see her and know that she was OK.

By 2 AM there was only one other lady left in the waiting room. Her husband was also having transplant surgery. When she was leaving to go and see him she came and found me and smiled and said I hope you get to see your wife soon. It wasn’t much but those kind words coming when they did brought me back from the edge of the cliff I was heading towards.

I finally got to go in and see Lisa, hold her hand and see her open her eyes for a moment. Her pancreas and kidney did work and they worked perfectly the rest of her life.

I have a small favor to ask you. Next time you are thinking of saying something mean about someone you don’t know or posting something negative on facebook about politics or whatever, please instead use that time and space to do something that might make someone’s day a little bit better. Post something that might make someone happier. Be nice to each other. It really does make a huge difference.


Ragged as the Road

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Brush scraping the sides of the truck like nails on a chalk board.

Buried up to the axel in mud out in the woods. Miles from help.

Slid off the corner on the ice and down in the ditch, just missed the tree.

Stuck way out in the snow with nothing but a shovel to get you back on plowed road.

New snow bending the branches down and dropping their load on the windshield faster than the wipers can push it off so you can’t see where your going.

You take these roads your not going to get out without some scars.

Might wreck your paint job. Sore back and a busted radio antenna.

It’s going to hurt. No way around that.

You can play it safe. Stay home in front of the TV. Truck parked in the garage.

And miss it all.

Never know that feeling of freedom, flying down the road splashing water out of the mud puddles.

Coming up on that corner and not knowing what’s on the other side but can’t wait to see.

A herd of deer crossing the trail.

Goshawk getting up off the road with a grouse in it’s talons.

Sun coming up and setting the ground fog on fire.

Those moments when life is so beautiful it takes your breath away.


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This road I’m on has been cracked by the cold
It’s been scorched by the sun and searched by the soul

And it’s a working back breaking, it’s a pick ax swinging
It’s steel wheels turning on steel rails singing

This road lies ahead like life on a brush
It’s a virgin canvas free from human touch

And it’s ours for the taking or the leaving behind
It’s a ghost of the past with the future to find

Reckless Kelly “Ragged as the Road”