Saturday, March 17, 2018

“Never give up. Never Surrender.”

“Never give up.  Never Surrender.”  
Copyright 2018 by Lori-Ann Willey

Most of you know that we live off the grid in the north Maine wilderness and that both Paul and I are in our early to mid-50’s.  Most of you know, too, that Paul is a man of more than his share of medical problems -a couple of them are words that no one wants to hear when the doctor looks at you while he says them.

I’ve written a couple-three blog entries that referenced how important the state of mind is, and though the state of mind is crucial, many of you believe that there must be something more that prods me along daily.  Maybe you are right, but I have to really stop to think what that “more” represents.  After a while, I guess it all reduces to a few “mindsets" – Life lessons, “I Am Me”, personal growth, peace of mind, and the attitude, “They can’t, but I can!”  I’ll attempt to explain each. 


I believe that you take away something from everyone you meet.  Maybe it is a stranger that casts a smile your way.  Or, maybe it is the stranger that sees you behind them with your arms full yet allows the door to shut in your face without so much as a glance back.  

From the smile, I return a smile, and then, share that smile with others.  I also feel that I can start the “chain of smiles”.  Anyone can. I wished more people would do that. 

From the door incidence, I choose not to be like them – Rude!

I have the choice to appreciate the good experience, just as I also have the choice to learn from the bad experience.  I can turn it around or simply follow suit.  That decision is mine.  I choose to always uplift myself and others when I can. 

I also believe in making sound decisions, to think a situation through thoroughly, and from many angles before taking action.  In doing so, realizing that you are not the only person in existence, too, leaves you with few or no regrets in life.  Regrets are not easy to escape from.  They tend to linger …like forever.


I believe in being myself.  Yes, as indicated above, I can “take” something -the good or the bad- from others, but I do not and will not ever change who I am to suit anyone.  My saying is.  "I am Me and ONLY ME.  That's who I want to be."  Comfortable in my own skin, in my own ways, in my own thoughts, and in my own personal growth, too.  I am ME.  I am not you or anyone else.


This is something that I am adamant about. I believe that life is not about competition. I’m not talking about sports or the competitive business market, etc. I’m talking about my own personal growth. We all have flaws, habits, and a preferred lifestyle.

My personal life has altered greatly with the onset of Paul’s medical issues. We used to hike mountains, go on canoe trips, etc. However, our lives have changed over the years. To live off the grid is how we can both be as much a part of nature as possible. I used to be able to work a job, go for long walks in the woods for hours on end, etc. All that changed when Paul needed more attentive care as his MS and other medical issues progressed. BUT, and notice that is a BIG BUT, I did not let all that change who I am as a person.

Instead of moping around and becoming depressed, I developed new hobbies -photography, sketching, painting, and writing. My wildlife and nature photography turned to more still-life and macro photography. It is the macro photography that I am most thankful to discover. If I had to choose just one lens only, I’d keep my macro lens without hesitation. I’m a lover of all things that are not so readily seen by the naked eye.

I find ways to live a “normal” lifestyle with a disabled husband. Had he not become disabled, I would have never explored writing, sketching, or painting. Because Paul’s physical disabilities are far greater these days, I could not allow it to stall my path of personal growth. I just had to find an alternate pathway is all. My focus and emotions are important. I could mope and dwell at the possible loss of Paul on any given day, or I can maintain a positive mindset by keeping track of my emotions, too. Basically, it all boils down to the “right emotion” that suits me the best. I found it. I’m a happy woman who finds pleasure in the little things in life. Those little things are such great rewards!


Given the above-written so far, I’d be a fool to say that I don’t worry, especially when it comes to Paul. We’ve been through a lot as a couple -loss of a daughter as an infant due to a genetic defect, and almost losing Paul due to his medical issues.

Honestly, I watch him like a hawk. At night, when I wake, I listen to make sure he’s still breathing. I’ve had a few scares when I’d listen for a breath and did not hear one. There are times when I am forced to put my hand on his chest and hope to feel the movement of his diaphragm, albeit shallow. The longer I listen, there is no more of a scare than when my hand meets his cold skin as if death overcame him hours ago. Instinctively, I touch my own body for a comparison. Then, I nudge him quickly and speak sharply. If that scare were not real, it would be laughable the second he speaks or moves upon waking to my antics. That “Comic Relief” within me is felt for days and weeks. In a way, the scare is always there, embedded. Why, at times, I can’t sleep after such a scare as that.  Even if his cold torso is due to being uncovered because he was hot earlier in the night.  We like to sleep in a cold room ...but!

With that said, I cannot let those fearful few seconds take over my life either. Remember when I mentioned being focused and finding the right emotion? Those are real deals. I delve into thought with a curious mind. Always thinking. Always doing. Always trying to do better with my sketching’s and paintings. I’ve learned to “tackle” if you will, one of the hardest subjects to master by the arts -portraits. For me, it stems from the ability to get lost in focus, tunnel vision, if you will. That is when the “right emotion” is achieved. It is not an avoidance of my emotions, it is channeling them. My own personal growth through the arts. Why each piece is important to me …a part of me. Why it is difficult to let them go. Instead, I line the walls of our camp and house as if each were an art gallery.

I delve 100% in everything I do. When I sit outside, I see everything. I hear everything as if with new ears and eyes. For, I truly believe that each minute of each day is a treasure …a new beginning, a new experience. All worthy of capture in the mind and heart.

The critters that I allow to climb on me, I always stop and give them the attention, or snack, that they seek. Sometimes, they, and I honestly believe, the chippies, want to be rubbed behind the ears. If I’m sketching, I allow them to help. Upon my face, big grins of appreciation. I let my mind go. I do not allow thoughts that have a negative value to sit and ponder. That is not healthy …for me or anyone.

I investigate everything from a newly sprouting seed to the clouds moving about the sky. I watch. I learn. I appreciate everything more than I ever thought I could. I find peace of mind in everything I see and touch.

Yes, Ima Busy Woman and this off the grid lifestyle demands it, but I do have time to myself. There is always a long To-Do list with some listings more pressing than others. I prioritize; therefore, I am efficient. When my day often starts during the wee hours of the morning, I have plenty of time to sketch, write, etc. I take advantage of it. While my body is idle, “my time” is always busy in the mind, too. I ponder and theorize a lot. The topic might not be one that surprises you much …how nature finds a way to survive, to mutate, to find its own personal growth. I can relate to the dilapidated plant just as much as I can relate to the most robust plant that thrives. To survive means to adapt to the changes in the environment. Humans are not any different.

Peace of mind …however you can obtain it… find it. Cherish it. You need it, or YOU will fail to thrive, thus survive. See how that works? Work through the obstacles. Appreciate any humor along the way.

A good example of humor is what happened just seconds ago. Paul said, “We’ve got a mourning dove at 9 degrees” He’s a numbers person, so that is what I heard through his mumbles. When I asked him to clarify, he said, “Our morning low was 9 degrees”. To that, we had a big laugh. High spirits here …without whacky tobacco, even. Though I should clean my ears a bit often, ‘cause I should be used to his mumbles by now. Yet again, those mis-heard sentences do offer us both a lot of chuckles!


Though my body is quite squishy and bulbous for a human being, I am a strong and determined woman. I am not out to prove anything to anyone, but I do enjoy sharing my experiences with those who are interested. There is no fabrication or dramatics. What you read/see/hear is everyday life. We are exactly what we portray -a little bit of everything, to include being loonies in the boonies.

I am a prodder. I encourage. I support. I can give a good swift kick in the ass if I think someone is in need. I am also a nurturer and a protector. Our son would include that I’m a natural teacher, as I teach in a way that is not by lecture, but with an ease that promotes curiosity for further learning or exploration. Or, at least that is what he’s told me in the past. Our daughter used to be quick to say, “You always see the other side of things!” And, I think that frustrated her a bit as a child. That was especially so when she complained about someone at school that bothered her. I’d always ask her to try to understand why “Maybe their home life isn’t the best.” Though I can understand why she’d get frustrated with me, but at the same time, whether she wanted to or not, I think she stopped to think about my words at least occasionally.

I know that last paragraph is probably a bit off topic, but when the rambling starts, I follow suit until the thought is out …off topic or not. That is why my twin sister refers to me as “Edith” (1970’s sitcom – All in the Family).

Paul and I had a daughter that passed away at 32 days old. She cannot live, so why can’t I live for her? Paul is either in a wheelchair or uses a cane, thus he can no longer do the things he used to before his disability wreaked havoc on his body. Because he can no longer adventure with me, I took up photography. This way, I can bring the woods to him. Anything I saw that was curious, neat, or thought he’d enjoy, I snapped a photo of it so I could show him upon my return. That was the start of my love for photography. It is a way that we can still share “walks” and “nature” together.

Paul can no longer swim or snorkel, so into the water with me goes an underwater camera. That is how he can “go swimming” these days. I show him what I see so he can enjoy it, too. Even if I do nothing more than press the record button and swim slowly through the water so he can “experience” the swim, too.

We can, in a roundabout way, live off the grid, whereas so many do not have the ability, means or wants to do so. I share our lifestyle so that those who are interested can follow along. So many tell us how they live vicariously through us. I hadn’t heard that word before, so after a few dozen times, I decided to look it up. It is another example, “They can’t, but I can”, so I am willing to share our lives with them throughout cyberspace. Happy to help when and where I can. Besides, I find it is an amazing way to help others understand the beauty of nature and how very precious and delicate it is.

Remember, because someone can’t, doesn’t mean you can’t. Paul can’t, but I can.

Lastly, when people wonder how I can do all that I do, how can I find the time to “play” (critter time, sketching, photography, painting, writing, tending to the garden, swimming, or carving out fun snow figures, etc.), I tell them that I make the time. I may be “too pooped to poop” when I do such things, but I find the time because “time” is very precious to us all.

There is no denying that the workload here is great. That is especially so after a large snow storm. Those literal hours upon hours and days upon days are challenging if you want to call it that. I don’t mind all the chores. I don’t mind doing all that needs to be done here. I enjoy it. Yes, I get tired, but I take breaks and use that time to prepare a meal, see if Paul needs anything, rehydrate, etc. etc. but in all honesty, I love my lifestyle. I am not afraid of the workload or the challenge ahead of me daily. I’m a realist. I face it. I just do it. Why? Because there are people who want to but cannot. I can. And, if I enjoy it, then all the better, and I really do enjoy it. There is no dread. Well, there is the “dreaded dishes” and the “dreaded 5-tree”, but those are other stories.

In all honesty, the second Dread appears in our lives, that will be the time to choose a different lifestyle. As for now, I’m still going strong at 52. On a funny note, I’ve been saying that I’m 52 for a year now. And according to my math, I’ll be 52 in June! DOH! Age is not what matters, it is your mindset that means EVERYTHING!


I’m not saying life is easy because it is not.  It’s not easy for anyone.  We all face our own challenges.  Our challenge is different than yours, is all.  Just as your challenge is different from the “guy next door”.  There is no fairness in comparing your life to others.

It’s up to each of us to make the best of our situation and to remember that …LIFE IS ALL RELATIVE.  You must live YOUR personal life.  Make changes along the way, but LIVE IT while you can.  Face the challenge, and/but keep yourself grounded. 

“Never give up.  Never surrender” -  Galaxy Quest

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018


Copyright 2018 by Lori-Ann Willey 

A list of words we use around camp since our purchase in 2004.  I'm sure I've missed some, but as we use and remember, I'll add to the list.


16-Mile Loop -  Trip we make with snowmobiles or our Polaris 4-wheeler to our truck and back during the winter months.

A FUNNY -  A telling of an amusing experience.

A Stiffel - A process of building using more nails than wood.

Allen's-way - A clever way of doing a complicated or cumbersome task.

Aunt Flo -  Monthly period.  AKA - Aunt Dot

Baby X -  A temporary name for an unborn child.

Bedspread -  What one creates when they sprawl out on the bed leaving no room for the other.

Big People's Drink - Any alcoholic beverage.

Big Potty - Composting Toilet

Bladdah-Gladdah - What you do when you go pee.  You make your bladder gladder.

Bob Hope - A specific husband/wife in the cove.

Bubbles - Snow. (Ellie)

Cannable vs. Cannible - Paul wondered if eels were cannable.

Cheatah Pizzah - Store bought pizza

Climatized - When you are used to it being cold out.

Cling-Ons - What you call little kids when they cling to you.

Coffee Burner - The process in which green coffee beans are roasted.

Coffee Pot -  The Luggable-Loo with deodorizing coffee grounds.

Cordon-Blue - The heating cord is on the face shield  of the blue snowmobile helmet, therefore, cordon-blue.

Cuskasaurus - Cusk fish that is larger than average size. (Bruce -Katahdin General)

Dam Camp Husband – Paul

Dam Camp Wife – Lori-Ann

Dam Hill - Hill going up from the dam.

Dangling Participles - What I told Paul to watch for when he wears boxers (without snaps) ..."Dangling Parts-visible".

Deep-Throat - When a fish takes the hook, line and sinker deep in the throat.

Dickles  - A mixture of  Wickles (red relish) & Dill (green relish)

DOH!ment - The moment you realized your previous thought was a "DOH!"

Dolby - Way out to town in the winter.

Double-Dipping -  Fishing with two poles at once.

Downers - Ice Fishing:  When you lower the bait to the bottom.

Drive-By-Shooting - What we do when friends come within picture shot while on the lake with our boats.

Drop ‘em & Go -  Act of going pee outside.

Eagle -  Name of an island where we often see eagles.

Eelin' - Eel fishing.

European - What the other spouse says when the other is peeing (You're-ah-peeing)

Fat Jumpers -  Little, jumpy, hard bumps on snowmobile trails where sledders drastically increase speed, leaving snow sprayed and heaped in the trail! 

Fishit - 1.  What comes out of a fish when you clean them. 2.  What you do in a it. 

Fishy-Fit - What you have when you pull up a lake chub thinking it was a big trout.

Four Corners - The point where the Stacyville Road and Huber Road meets.

Going Horizontal – Time for bed.

Goofy - Way out to town in the summer.

Go-Postal - What we say when we need to make the one hour round trip to the Post Office in Summer.  A good 30-45 minutes longer than that in winter.

Gray Water – Drainage water -washing, cleaning, dishes, etc.

Green-Eye - An underwater fluorescent green light used for night fishing.

Gunky Potty - Litter Box

Guzinta - This "goes into" that.  Also known as a, "Guzinta problem". 

Hangover - When sleeping at the Gateway (Hotel in Medway), we always wake up with a hangover.  (Feet hanging over the end of a double sized bed.)

Hip Fart -  The noise your hip makes when it pops back into the socket! (Florice)

Holy-Hannah! - What is yelled when you catch a small fish, and want everyone to think you caught a big one. (Dave)

Hopper-Hop - What we do in the bathroom in the winter.  The Luggable-Loo is for going #1, and the composting toilet is used for going #2.  

I'm on! - Statement to indicate being "online" or "connected" to the Internet.

Ima – “I’m a ….”

In the Now -  What's happening at that very moment. (often showing a picture)

IVIG -  Immuno gamma globulin “treatments”

Jumping-off-rock - The pyramid-shaped rock to jump from while swimming. (Stiffel’s)

Kinky Fish - The fish that are attracted to the vibrations of the snowmobile upon the ice.

Lap Dance - What your paper plate does when your lap tries to hold it during the eating process!

Lap-It  - When you do a Lap Dance

Lips - Anything that goes on the lips.  "My tongue took my lips away."  (What Autumn said after she licked chapstick off her lips.)

Lip-Stuff - Lip moisturizers.

Little Potty - Luggable-Loo (Piss Pot, Coffee Pot)

Millinocket Lake Piranha - Sunfish

Mt. K -  Mount Katahdin

Muchcuskluk - When the cusk fishing is good.

M-wow - What the cat (Gunky) says when Josh cleans his room!

Nose Douche - The process of cleaning out the sinuses using a bulb syringe, warm water and salt. (Thea)

Off Eagle - Location of ice shack.

"Peas" and Poops -  The name of Lori-Ann's garden.

Patoot -  Butt

Perchin' - White perch fishing.

Pink Medicine - What kids hope for at each doctor visit. (liquid Amoxicillin).

Quimby - A 6-letter swear word.

Sea Turtle -   Big snapping turtle

Silly Poop - Poop that is shaped like a “j” . (Ellie)

Squeepee -  (or Squeepy)  That last-ditch attempt to squeeze out a little "pee" before a trip to town, etc, in hopes you won't have to "go" until you get back. 

Stitch -  Straw or Corn brooms with painted faces.

Strap-ons - Bungee chords

Sunspot - Where the cat and Lori-Ann sit to feel the "warmth" of the winter sun.

The Beast -  Polaris Ranger

The Dam Willey’s -  Paul and I as referenced by others.

The Point - The endpoint on the camp road.

Three-Way - What happens when three fishing lines cast at the same time, in the same spot, then get tangled together, leaving the three fishermen thinking they have fish (Marc)

“Too Pooped to Poop” -  Exhausted

Traumatized - When it's REALLY cold out!

Triponable - Anything at ground level that can cause tripping, therefore it's trip-on-able.

Up Mud - A nice secluded boat ride.

Up Sandy - Going trout fishing.

Uppers - Ice Fishing:  When you lower the bait to just under the ice.

Uppin’attem -  Time to get off the patoot and get stuff done.

Uppinaddah -  When you are up and out of (bed).

Vikings - Those who take Vicodine.

Weeds - Wild Edibles.

Wet Back Hill - Hill on the Stacyville Road that is always wet with water seepage.

Zombie -  In a stupor, too tired to think.


Ami – Shed made by the Amish

Ellie-Aut – Shed named after our granddaughters -Autumn & Ellie

Home-home - Our legal residence.

Little House - Cottage

Pauly – Shed made by Paul and Lori-Ann

Plywood Palace – What our camp was called before we purchased it. (Brian M.)

Telephone Booth – Outhouse


Ah-Choo – Name of our cat.

Bebe – Red Squirrel

Blurds - When birds get blown around with the snow in wicked high winds, you see blurry birds.

Bob & Bobbette – Raven mates

Caw - A certain seagull that comes to our boat when we yell "Caw".

Chippy - Chipmunks

Cyril – Red Squirrel

Gunky-Butt – The name of our cat.

Hand-Warmer - Name of a still warm dead squirrel.  When cold, it goes into a pot of water.

Jumpy – Red Squirrel

Rainbow – Seagull

Sammy Jay -  Blue Jays (Thorton Burgess)

Snorkeling Bear - A tree stump/root protruding from water.

Target Practice - When red squirrels steal the bird food!

Thal - Name given to a short and stubby red squirrel. (short for Thalidomide, a 1960’s morning sickness medicine, resulting in stunted limbs of the offspring.) 

Tonto - Name of the red squirrel with the tail hairs that stick straight up in the shape of a feather.

Twister - Name of a mourning dove that has a white bread twist-tie around her/her left leg.


Daylight – Teller of outside conditions at dawn.  Bringer of light.

Haste – Helps get stuff done in a hurry

Mother Nature – Mother Earth and all that she holds

Night – Concealer of Daylight. 

Up & At’em – Prodders to get my butt moving

Waste – A time waster