Walks with Jackson – 12-29-13

The little village we live in is not always a favorite place for me. Luckily, there are some wonderful redeeming qualities that make it a difficult place to leave. A major quality is the proximity to the Wisconsin River and the eagles that spend the winter fishing in the waters here. More and more of the eagles are nesting in the area as well but that is another story for another time. This story is about the eagles of winter and how they can rescue a week of battling colds over busy holiday travel times.



I was hoping to make up some hunting time by taking advantage of my new job with MATC and the fact that the college is closed from December 24 until January 2. With a few days off beyond the travel times I thought I could get a few more hunts in with Rosie to continue her record pheasant year and get a deer hunt in to salvage my personal deer hunting streak of every year since I turned twelve (more on both later). Jackson changed my plans starting out with a stuffy head the weekend before Christmas and moving to a bad chest cold throughout the rest of week. I guess with several nights of having to try to comfort him out of coughing fits it would make sense that both Jenny and I would also get sick! Jenny definitely got the worse of it but my cold kept me from joining a buddy for a deer hunt both Friday and Saturday. Not to mention not thinking about trying to take Rosie hunting when I could barely make a walk around the neighborhood! She is not a happy dog at the moment; I hope to make one more trip before the season ends on the 31st if the weather is decent (it was about 12 below zero this morning). Another story for another time…

This story is about time outdoors with Jackson. By Sunday morning Jackson was nearly back to himself, he was still dealing with some coughing fits but was clearly at the end of his cold. Of course Jenny and I were dealing with colds of our own at this point but I was on the recovery path as well so decided I had to find a way to get Jackson out of the house for a while to give Jenny a break. We tried playing in the yard with some shoveling and a quick sled ride around the yard. We were having fun until Jackson decided he had been out long enough to earn a hot cocoa so back in the house he went. I knew I had to try something else to get him out of the house. I didn’t have many options as it was getting close to lunch and then nap time. I wasn’t sure if it would work but I threw out idea to go to the dam and watch eagles and he went for it!

Jackson watching eagles

Jackson watching eagles

Jackson's "silly face"

Jackson’s “silly face”

Jackson's "grumpy face"

Jackson’s “grumpy face”

So Jackson, Rosie and I loaded into my truck and made the ~5 minute drive to the Prairie du Sac Dam to see if any eagles were in the area. We had perfect timing as there were about 15 birds perched in the trees on our side of the river with several more fishing out over the river! We were treated to several eagles flying within maybe 30 yards of the truck and some easy viewing opportunities for Jackson to “spy the eagles” with our binoculars. We had a blast for the next hour or so watching eagles, geese and many ducks while sitting in the truck. Not bad for a quick 5 minute drive from home!

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Some thoughts on blogging

As I work my way back into blogging I sometimes wonder why I stopped in the first place. After all, I was enjoying writing these posts and, at least I think, was getting a bit better. I have mentioned this before, but I started writing later in life. Not that time really matters but I guess the point of this thought is that well, I never would have guessed how much writing would mean to me 25 or so years ago. I guess that those of you that knew me then would agree…or maybe not. After all, the people that new me then and are reading this now are my friends…you always saw more in me than I saw in myself. I guess a BIG THANK YOU is in order!

As I look back on the past year and a half I am not sure why I didn’t keep up regular writing. A few things happened along the way that has gotten in the way of regular writing. A big one is just a plain lack of feeling the posts. I have had some stories slip through my fingers by not having a way to record my thoughts when they happen. My best writing comes straight from the heart and I should know by now that I cannot control when that feeling hits. The post on favorite birds is an example of what that I tried to work through. The post is OK but the original thought was way better and came and went as Rosie and I were walking along the trail…I have had others slip through my fingers this way but now I have a recorder on my new phone which I hope will help with that…if not I am going to get a recorder. Of course it doesn’t hurt to carry a notebook or two…regular practice should improve my ability to connect my feelings in my writing.

There are some learning curve issues that create a little frustration in actually publishing posts. The post Waiting for Noon was a good example. This one is embarrassing to admit…at this point in my life I should have known better…I wrote that post after seeing Rosie lying on floor with a melancholy look on her face. Again that post is OK but the original was way better. In this case I wrote the post in wordpress and somewhere between finishing the draft and posting I failed to save my work…can you believe it! I couldn’t…and the result is a mediocre post.

A big reason that I haven’t been posting much is related to the nature of writing itself, an understanding that every writer comes to and has to deal with…not that this effort qualifies me as a writer. But the feeling is the same. Writing, by its nature, is a lonely business…even blogging. I get it and am OK with that now particularly since so many of you told me that you missed me sharing these little rambles through life…I guess a BIG THANK YOU is in order my friends!

I started this blog because I had come to realize how important writing is to me but a bigger reason is to share the beauty that is around us…to share my love of nature and time spent outdoors, even if it is just a walk around the block…to share thoughts on experiences in some hope of starting a conversation about how we treat our world…and each other…but mostly to keep a track of some of these experiences for Jackson. Other friends and family too but Jackson is a primary audience. I don’t intend to go anywhere but in case something happens, I want him to have a chance to know something about me from me.

So I promise I will work at the writing quality and making a regular (whatever that means) habit of writing something. Thank you for reading and, if it strikes you, for sharing your thoughts. I hope you enjoy this little journey.

Walks with Jackson

On Sunday September 22 Jenny, Jackson, and I met Tom and Nancy (aka Grandma & Grandpa E) for a hike in Parfrey’s Glen. This was only the second time I hiked into our state’s first designated Natural Area the first time being somewhere around 13 years ago with a group of Soilies. This trip was quite a bit different, particularly on the middle trail – what used to be an easy walk on a board walk along Parfrey’s Glen Creek was now a little trickier (remember Jackson is only 3.5 years old) as the board walk and much of the trail through the gorge have been destroyed by several powerful floods over the past few years. Jackson had a great time rock-hopping over the creek as we climbed back to the waterfall. 


A little side-bar: one of the reasons I have not explored this beautiful site, as well as many of the TNC properties in the Baraboo Hills, is that Dogs are not allowed. Rosie was not a very happy dog to be left out of this adventure, particularly since we haven’t gone hunting even though she knows hunting season has arrived. She became fully aware that hunting season is upon us a couple nights before when I washed my bow hunting clothes and hung them out on the line – Rosie promptly walked over, sniffed my pants on the line, then looked at me with that little Rosie look, head slightly tilted, little questioning glance – then a slight doggie smile – she knows fall is here – now every time I walk out of the house she races to the garage and waits by the door to go into the truck – sometimes, if I don’t go near the truck, she will lie there and stare at me with a look that says “well, let’ s go already!” – when she didn’t get to join this trip, well she was not a happy dog.

More on Rosie’s adventures soon – this is about time in the nature with Jackson, something we most often get to share with Rosie, but not today. So Jackson did an awesome job on our little adventure climbing and rock-hopping his way up the creek to the little waterfall at the head of the gorge. Jackson and I left the others behind a bit as we made our way along the trail at the base of the gorge until we found a wonderful rock seat to sit and watch the waterfall for a while. Exploring the world with Jackson, along with the conversation that goes with it, has become one of my favorite activities of being a dad! I guess the surprising part is how each adventures gets better and better as his world, imagination, and vocabulary expand. As we sit there and watch the waterfall he asks:

“Dad, when will they turn it off?”

“Well, nobody turns this on or off, Jackson.”

Silent contemplation for a while.


“That is the nature of things (this has become a favorite pat answer that we stole from a friend – Thank you for that!). If we don’t get rain for a long time, the stream might stop flowing but nobody turns streams on or off like a faucet.”

Silent contemplation for a while.

“Dad, can I touch the water?”

“Sure pal – touch the water by the edge here.”

“WOW that is COLD!”

Back to the rock for another moment of silent contemplation.

“Dad, why is the water white?”

“Well as it splashes over the rocks and down the waterfall it mixes with air to make the foam (good enough explanation for a 3.5 year old…).”

“Dad, why is the water green?”

Silent contemplation on my part…until I see what he means.

“That is the reflection from the leaves on the trees. See them up on the hill; water can act like a mirror sometimes.”

A little more silent contemplation and then it is time to head back down. Sitting quietly for long periods of time is not a particular Jackson skill but this was a good amount of time. There was time for one more question as we were heading back to Jenny and Grandma & Grandpa E.

“Dad, is it a little spooky?” Jackson asks.

“Yeah just a little pal, but that is what makes this place special.” Beautiful scenery and a slight spooky, almost mystical feeling makes this a wonderful place to visit – sharing it with Jackson in such a special way makes this trip one I will not soon forget!


I am finally getting back to making an effort to create regular blog posts. My first effort here is to make dedicate time, and develop a habit of regular writing. Of course this is around being a father, a husband, having a new job…no excuses. I like to write and I have heard from enough people that actually miss these little posts that I am going to make a commitment to writing…


Favorite Bird?

Rosie and I were taking a walk at lunch one day last winter on the bike trail behind my office which happens to be adjacent to Blackhawk Country Club. It is one feature that I like about our office location as it provides an opportunity to have some decent bird sightings even though my office is in near the middle of Madison. On our walk that day I was reminded what a beautiful and eye-catching sight a bright red male cardinal can be in winter!

This sighting has left me wondering if I have a favorite bird? I certainly have a list of favorites but I am not sure that a single favorite comes to mind. Cardinals are always in my “favorites” list. On that walk I thought that in winter my favorite bird probably is a male cardinal because the color they add to the landscape. Another winter favorite from home is the eagles that congregate along the river! This was a good winter for eagle sightings with a top day of 27 birds between Highway 12 and the dam!

This got me thinking that maybe i have a list of favorite birds with a changing top bird(s) for different seasons… Since that time, many other birds have been at the top of my list. As winter turns to spring, the sound of sandhill cranes always stops me in my tracks. The call of a blue bird and the sound of turkeys gobbling from the roost filled Rosie and my morning walks along the river this year. And we were lucky enough to see some pelicans and a loon stopping over on their way north. And now we are graced with the song of orioles and the little house wren next door!

 Choosing one bird to call a favorite may be too much for me…what do you think? 


Four years ago today my life changed in a drastic way, and i am still trying to wrap my mind around this event. I don’t typically post things like this (actually, for the past 180 days i guess haven’t posted anything) however, this being the anniversary of my sisters passing I feel I owe her. The following is a piece that I wrote on that day, it is unedited and straight from my heart. I miss you Lynn!

In loving memory of Lynn Marie Zogbaum, December 27, 1970 – April 25, 2009

From your brother, Randy


Today my sister, Lynn Marie Zogbaum, passed away.  She was only 38 years old although she had been through a lot.  She has been struggling with many health issues and finally could not take any more… 


Today my sister died.  She was only 38 years old.  She had been trying to get on disability so she could pay for the medical attention she needed.  She worked most of her life but for the last two or three years could not hold a job.  She had many health problems and could never quite find a way to overcome them…


Today my sister died.   She was only 38 years old. She had some medical coverage with her last real full-time job…that was almost 5 years ago…I had thought that job would pull her out of her funk…she was really making huge strides on that job.  She had moved up from working in the Wal-Mart Photo studios as a photographer; to a manager, and then a district manager.  She really was building on her confidence and found the strength to move to Mosinee by herself!  Unfortunately she was also getting sicker at the time…her diabetes progressed to the point of being insulin dependant.…she had fairly long sick leave periods that she was not able to travel the several hundred miles between each of her stores.  She covered all of northern Wisconsin and the UP during that time, over 700 miles between her farthest two stores.   She was let go…she never filed any law suit or even saw a lawyer but she was essentially fired because of her illnesses.  She tried to find other work and was employed in a warehouse but at a much lower wage and eventually had to move back to our parents home in Madison…


Today my sister died.  She was only 38 years old.  She tried to find work in Madison and was eventually hired on a temporary basis at Target.   She did a good enough job that she was asked to come on permanently.    She was having problems with the pain in her legs and not able to stand and eventually this job was too much for her as well.  She needed surgery on her back…Her medical bills were becoming gigantic and she had no way to pay for them.  She was finally forced to file for bankruptcy and suffer the humiliation that comes with that process.  She never was able to work again… 


TODAY MY SISTER DIED!  SHE WAS ONLY 38 YEARS OLD!  She filed for disability and the last hope for an independent life.  She was promptly denied!  Meanwhile her medical condition was getting worse.  Insulin is a very expensive drug.  To complicate things she also had high blood pressure and the diabetes was starting to take its toll on her body.  Her legs hurt to the point she could not stand.  She finally found a lawyer that took her disability case…they had a hearing scheduled but due to the backlog of cases it is still TWO YEARS AWAY!  She owed money again on her medical bills to the point that hospitals and some doctors would no longer see her…her most frequent calls were from the bill collectors that specialize in demeaning you to the point you pay your bills…the only problem is she could not work to get any money and the government said she did not qualify for disability and the medical coverage that comes with it, she had filed bankruptcy, couldn’t work, spent her life in pain and suffering but these wonderful people found a way to take what little dignity she had and squeeze out of her…

TODAY MY SISTER DIED!  SHE WAS ONLY 38 YEARS OLD…her body had already suffered enough.  She died alone in her bedroom at my parent’s house.  I can only imagine the fear and loneliness knowing that she could not call for help because she owed the hospitals too much already…  My dad told me that he was going to vacuum this morning but decided not to because he did not want to wake Lynn up as she sounded so peaceful sleeping in her room so he decided to go fishing for a while.  A few hours later my mom decided to check on her because she is usually up and found her lying dead on her bed.  She called my dad because she did not know what else to do.  My dad told her to call 911 and he was coming home.  He arrived the same time as ambulance…but Lynn had been gone for some time…

Today my sister died, she was 38 years old but had suffered a life-time of suffering.   I only have one question in my mind right now: Why?  I know most people ask that but what mean is why can this country turn its back so easily on its poor and sick?  How can we be the last wealthy country that does not have health care?  All of the health problems my sister had were curable but she did not have the medical insurance to cover the care…and now she is gone…  My solace, and my families is that the pain is finally over for Lynn’s soul and she is happy again, that surely is a good thing…I just hope that some day we decide as a country, or at least a state, that enough is enough and we will really come together and build a better country that does not turn its back on its poor and sick…    

Joy of a dog…from Sara K.

It has been a long time since I have created a blog post and I will get back to it soon but I am trying a little side adventure tonight and sharing a guest post from my friend and hunting partner Sara. More from me, Jenny, Jackson, and Rosie (at least from me) soon…


Oct. 30, 2012 from Sara K.

Rosie and I headed out to meet two friends at Mud Lake Wildlife Area.  They were both desperate to hunt, so much so that they were already out trying to hunt some small fields with no dog.  After we met up, we went to a field that I have never hunted at Mud Lake, but had pretty promising cover.  Rosie got birdy once, just before we left the field, but no birds.  She was working pretty well between three people though, and she seemed to find every mouse in the field! 🙂

Rosie was very reluctant to leave the field – I think she thought we were done for the day, and she wasn’t ready to quit!  After finally stuffing her in the car (literally) we went to the next field.  After getting off the leash at the parking lot, Rose took off like a bullet down the stocking trail.  My friend Nate was closest to her, and I told him to try to stay with her as I figured she had seen a bird on the trail as they tend to congregate on this trail which is right next to the treeline.  We were able to call Rosie, so that she at least stopped on the trail so we could catch up somewhat.  When she got to the corner of the field, she sniffed around just enough that Nate was able to catch up, before she took off down the trail again after it made a 90 degree bend.  Sure enough, she must have been able to see the bird again, as I was hardly able to call out to Nate to stay with her when all of sudden two pheasants shot up in the air in opposite directions almost underneath Rose.  One was too far to shoot, but flew right up into one of the trees near the field.  The other flew straight at Nate.  I didn’t know, but this was Nate’s first pheasant hunt!  Anytime you have a pheasant fly right at you, it’s a rush – but the first time is really exciting and is very easy to get so excited that you forget to put the gun stock to your cheek – which is exactly what Nate did!  He emptied his gun at this pheasant, who never seemed perturbed that Nate was trying to shoot it, it kept coming right at him!  After Nate’s gun was emptied (3 shots), the bird finally decided to turn and landed in a tree right next to the field.  Rosie was watching the whole time and ran to the foot of the tree and sat there, basically pointing the bird in the tree.  Nate was sort of hanging his head in shame, but I told him to go ahead and load up again so Rosie could get her bird.  As all this was happening, my other friend (Mike) and myself were still walking through the field towards the wood line.  I turned to say something to Mike and saw that he had his gun up, and BOOM! He shot the other pheasant that had flown up into the trees.  It was a pretty long shot, but he said he was afraid it would fly off into the woods the other way if we got any closer.  It sort of sprialed out of the tree and landed near a brush pile, which it was able to flop under.  I told Mike to wait to get that one until Rosie got Nate’s bird and we could send her into the brush pile.  Rosie was elated to get her mouth on Nate’s bird, but we got her to the brush pile where she saw the second bird and it was Rosie versus Pheasant, round 2!  She dove into the brush pile and the pheasant kept hopping around her.  It finally jumped up to the top of the brush pile, and Rosie was just about to launch herself up the brush pile when the bird took off flying and it came flying out into the open field again.  Surprised us, as we didn’t think it would be able to fly!  I was standing closest so I swung on it and dropped it in the field.  Of course we let Rosie “find” that one too – getting lots of praise in the process! After we picked up the 2nd pheasant, Nate came over carrying his bird, admiring it and commented that this was the first pheasant he ever shot.  Way to go Rose – got another hunter hooked!  We hunted the rest of the field, and Rosie worked her tail off.  She was very birdy near the property line, and I saw a pheasant out of the corner of my eye dart out of the public land grass cover into the neighbor’s woods.  I’m sure Rosie would have found that one in another 2 minutes had he stuck around.  Coming out she was working another bird really hard, but we just couldn’t find him.  Some other friends of mine hunted this same field about an hour after we left, and were able to put this bird up – I think he may have gone out to the road where I wouldn’t let Rose follow while we were there.  Of course we had to take some pictures of Rose’s hard work when we got back to the parking lot.  Way to go Rosie!  We left with a bunch of happy hunters and a happy, tired, dog!


Later, Rosie got a rare treat for a dog when she paid a visit to the state game farm, where most of the stocked pheasants in the state are raised.  I think she may have thought it was nirvana.  I also ended up having to clean out one of our freezers ther while Rosie was with me, which she found fascinating.  So many carcasses, so little time.

Until next time Rosie dog, I can’t wait!

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