Monthly Archives: April 2013
When I was a teenager, my cousin Greg was well known in this town. We didn’t go to the same high school, but every time his name came up, and I would say that he was my cousin, I always got the same reaction…”Greg is your cousin???” It was always said with respect, and I always felt proud to be Greg’s cousin. Greg was someone that you just knew you could count on. The girls all liked him, because he was cute, but treated them right…which wasn’t a combination you often saw in the lookers. We, like all teenagers in Casper, spent as many evenings as we could dragging the strip. For those who don’t know, that was driving up and down CY Avenue, looking for and hanging out with our friends. It was the thing we all did. Some of the kids that hung out there, got into trouble, but for the most part, it was just good kids, just hanging out. Not that the cops or the store managers thought so, whenever we stopped to visit. Still, the usual solution, even then, was to tell us to move on.
While Greg was well respected as a teenager, and in his adult life, there were a few things that went on as a kid that some might consider questionable. As I have written family stories, Greg has told on himself a little. You see, Greg was a bit of a cookie monster. He knew all the best places to go too. His quest for cookies took him to several key places around town. He might start out at our great grandma’s house. This was probably where Greg perfected his sweet talking skills. Greg has a smile that charms the ladies…or at that age, grandma and the aunts. I can see it now. He probably stopped over with a little bouquet of flowers and that big smile, and said something like, “I love you grandma!” Well, being a grandma myself now, I can say that those grandkids can get almost anything they want with a smile and and “I love you grandma” so I figure he had Grandma and the aunts eating out of his hand…or rather filling his hands and tummy with cookies. Once he got done at Grandmas, his travels might take him to Aunt Gladys’ house. He might say he was going to play in the park, but he knew exactly where the cookie jar was, and just how to sweet talk Aunt Gladys into giving him some of her cookies. Sometimes I wonder how many times Greg’s dinner was spoiled by his travels, but then, if he was like most boys, those cookies didn’t even make a dent in his appetite.
Like all kids, Greg grew up, had a daughter, and became a grandfather. Now he would get to see the other side of that coin of life. His girl, and his grandkids would be able to smile and melt his heart. There would be nothing that he wouldn’t do for them. That was just how it was going to be…for the rest of his life. When you think about it, Greg as a grandpa just isn’t that different than the Greg I knew as a teenager…that guy I was so proud to call my cousin, because he was the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. What a great guy he was and is. Today is Greg’s birthday. Happy birthday Greg!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every year, there comes a day…usually in the early Spring…around mid-April, that can only be called Slap Day. No, I’m not saying that everyone should go slap someone, or even that the weather makes you want to slap someone. Although, maybe it does, when they say something like, “We need the moisture.” I mean, we all know that we need the moisture, but it could snow on the mountain, and rain down here. That is what we are supposed to get in the Spring, right? Rain!! I know that the weather isn’t their fault, and they are just trying to look on the bright side. Still it is just so annoying to me, that after enjoying the crocuses and daffodils in your yard…that is starting to turn green…suddenly you can’t find your yard…much less enjoy any flowers. No self respecting flower would come out in this kind of weather, anyway!! I mean, they are delicate!!
I try not to complain, but when Winter pulls such a cruel joke on Spring, I have to draw the line. It seems to me that Winter is enough of a bully to all of us, but when it has to go out and start picking on Spring, who is really just a newborn, after all…well, I get ticked. And, as if that was not enough, Winter doesn’t just throw this whole bullying thing at Spring, he is slapping me with it too. I don’t get it. I have tried to be patient. I have tried to look at snow and cold as just a part of the changing of the seasons. But, lets get them changed already!! What’s up with all of this back and forth. Spring officially arrived on March 20th, after all. That was weeks ago!! And prior to the trusty ground hog’s ridiculous prediction of an early Spring, we had a pretty easy Winter going. You see, once old Punxsutawney Phil decided it was going to start getting nice early for once…well, Winter decided to cut loose. That is the last time I listen to old Punxsutawney Phil…thank you!!
So, all ranting aside, I will just have to look on the bright side, which is impossible to avoid, especially when the sun hits all that snow…and say that yes, we need the moisture, and I’m sure that when this all melts I’ll be glad we got some. And in a few days, I suppose I’ll be able to forget this cruel trick, and move on into Spring with a smile. My annoyance will subside, and the Spring flowers will put joy back into my heart. Yes, I’ll get over Slap Day, but let me tell you this…Old Man Winter…I will not quickly forget your cruel ways.
I’m not a wind lover. In fact, most of the time the wind annoys me, but there are things that actually require the wind to accomplish their goal. I remember as a kid, trying to fly a kite a few times. I was never very good at it, which is probably why I didn’t do it very much. Nevertheless, I love watching someone, who knows how, fly a kite. There is just something about watching that kite floating effortlessly on air…provided I don’t necessarily have to be sitting outside in the wind when all that is going on. Watching from my car or my window works just fine for me. One of my favorite times to watch kite flying is when it is a little kid trying to do it. Their little legs just don’t go fast enough to get the kite in the air, but the have a really great time trying…at least for a while. Then they get frustrated, just like everyone else, and if you don’t help them get that kite in the air, they are pretty much over the whole thing.
I love watching the birds on a windy day. What we consider an annoyance, they look at as the perfect way to play. They spread their wings and head into the wind. The wind holds them in place, without even having to try to fly. And they can stay there like that for quite a while. It seems so effortless, and yet, it might be a lot of work for them for all we know. Nevertheless, to see a bird in hover mode is as cool as watching them soar into the wind in playful flight. Here in Casper, we have some pigeons that fly around in the downtown area. I know that the downtown merchants don’t really like them much, because of the mess they leave, but if you sit down for just a few minutes and watch them dip and soar, always in a group, always of one accord, always beautiful, you will find yourself having a hard time faulting them for the mess…or at least that’s how I feel.
For me personally, a windy day is such an annoyance. It messes up my hair, and believe me, there is not enough hair spray on the planet, instant freeze or otherwise, to make your hair stay in place on a windy day. Still, the kid me remembers wearing a jacket out on a windy day, and lifting it above my head to make a sail, and letting the wind pull me out into it a little. It makes me feel just a little bit like a bird or maybe a kite, and reminds me that even the wind has its good points, few as they may be. Maybe I should give that whole jacket sailing thing a try again sometime…I mean, maybe floating on air would lend a little bit of freedom to an otherwise responsibility filled life.
Being the first grandchild in our family, Chantel was a bit of a novelty to us. At the time of her birth, my sister, Cheryl and her then husband, Rob were living at our house, prior to and during his basic training in the Air Force, and prior to their move to Plattsburgh, New York, where they would be stationed. I will never forget the night Chantel arrived. It was, of course the middle of the night, and we were awakened to let us know that my parents, Cheryl, and Rob were heading to the hospital. Of course, back then, you didn’t get to know what the baby was, because that technology was not yet available. That made for much more excitement on our part…and a very long wait…or at least it seemed like it. I can’t say for sure that it was a long labor, and it is likely that it wasn’t, because Cheryl didn’t really have long labors, as I recall.
Before we knew it, our lives would be changed forever, as we went from being little girls to being aunts. It was an exciting time for us. Having a new baby in the house, when there hadn’t been one for 9 years, was such a change. She was so cute and so little, and we were mesmerized. I have always loved babies and every single one is the cutest, the funniest, and the cuddliest, but your first niece or nephew is a special event…especially when you are young and don’t have children of your own. You suddenly feel a part of something that is very cool. Even if they cry and need their diapers changed, it just doesn’t matter, because that is your niece or your nephew.
Through the years, Chantel continued to delight us with her stylish ways. She was always a little diva, and we loved it. The camera was always kind to her, because she seemed to always know just when to strike a pose, and just which pose to strike. Of course, her greatest beauty comes from within her, where a kind and loving heart resides. And when you have a kind and loving heart, that inner beauty can’t help but spill out of you all the time. Today is my first niece, Chantel’s birthday. Chantel, we love you very much. Your special ways are always a delight. Happy birthday!! Have a beautiful day!!
Not having had anything to do with the business end of ranching, I find myself fascinated when I look at the pictures of branding, and hear about calving. While others who have been around it for some time, might just think of those things as all in a day’s work, or maybe even as a lot of work. My family were, at least in the years of my lifetime, city dwellers, so until Bob and I got married, I knew very little about country life, other than the little bit of time I spent at a friend’s house, which was not a ranch, and who I was only around during my junior high school years. That said, when I married Bob and we went to visit his grandmother in Montana, I got my first real taste of ranch life. Of course, as a guest and a girl, I didn’t get in on the tough stuff, like calving or branding, but I heard a little bit about it, and in reality, it was quite interesting to me, and I wouldn’t have minded getting to see it.
Bob’s grandpa owned the ranch at that time, although his son, Bob’s Uncle Butch is a rancher too, and owns not only his own land, but Grandpa’s ranch too, now that Grandpa has passed on. Bob used to spend summers visiting his grandparents when he was a kid, and I’m sure he got in on some of that fun stuff, although I don’t know if he considered it to be fun, but my father-in-law finds the whole process interesting to this day, and often talks to his brother, Butch about how his herd is doing, and how the calving is going. He has told me about his own experiences in calving too, such as the time he had to help a neighbor pull a calf that the mother was having trouble giving birth to, because the calf was coming out wrong. I’m not sure I would want to watch that process, but I guess when it happens, it is all hands on deck, because you can lose both mother and baby, if you don’t get it handled quickly, and even then you can lose them, because, sometimes the calf is just too much for the mother. A sad, but true fact of ranching.
These days, most of the ranching is done by Uncle Butch and his son, Scott, along with Scott’s wife Terri, and their kids, Laura, Carson, and Lindsey. I’m sure some things are done much differently these days, than back in the early years of Grandpa’s ranching career, but some things don’t change much. Cattle still have to be rounded up, and that still requires horses, riders, and of course, skill…probably another reason I live in the city. Not that I can’t ride, but I’d do best on some old worn out horse that doesn’t move too fast. I find that to be the best way to stay on the horse. From what I’ve see of the Scott and Terri Hein family, they could hold their own with the best of them. I’m sure that being around ranching, your whole life helps with that, but I have a feeling this is in their blood.
These days, many young women graduate from high school and then go on the college or just out into the work world, but years ago, women who weren’t married by the time they were 20 years old were considered old maids. Some of the women were married as young as 13 years old. These days people would look at that in a very different way…especially since the husbands were often older, often in their mid-twenties or older. Strange as it seems to us today, back then most of these marriages turned into life long loves and lots of children. Of course, as far back as I have looked into, 13 wasn’t a common age for a woman to marry, but the mid to late teens certainly was.
Many of the women in my family were among those who were married at 16 or 17 years of age, and according to my Aunt Sandy, one of our grandmothers was married at 13, but I haven’t been able to find out which one, so I guess I’ll have to ask her. It could be that I’m just not going back far enough. The girls back in the early days of our nation were raised to be homemakers. The were taught how to run a home and take care of a family. Many is the south were taught to oversee a house full of servants. I can’t imagine running a home, children or a house full of servants at the tender age of 13. I don’t know about you, but at 13, I was definitely not interested in being a wife, mother, and boss. I was too busy doing gymnastics on the front lawn, or hanging out with my friends.
Why were these women to be so different? I mean, they weren’t forced into marriage, they chose it. Yes, they were trained to cook and clean, but so was I. Their parents didn’t push marriage on them, nor did they expect it to happen that young…I don’t believe anyway. I guess that some girls grow up faster than others, or maybe the expectations of the parents carries more weight than we know. I wonder if we will ever really understand the reasons behind those early marriages.
I was talking to my Aunt Sandy a short time ago, and we were discussing past history and how things used to be done. She mentioned something I hadn’t thought about for a long time. I have seen these, as I’m sure many of you have, and I even saw one on Facebook yesterday. These machines, which really have no business being called machines, since it is completely run be your own arm power, or elbow grease, as my mom would call it. I’m talking, of course, of the wringer washing machine. At one time, I’m sure this was the crème de la crème of washing machines. Prior to that marvelous invention, women scrubbed their clothes on a wash board, and wring it out by hand. Even after the wringer machine was invented, the clothes that were really stained had to be scrubbed on that old washboard.
Aunt Sandy told me about her own memories of washing clothes on that old wringer washing machine, and just how hard it was to use. Of course, as a kid, she might have liked working that old machine too. It can be fun for a while. I’ve had occasion to try one of those wringer washers before, and I can tell you first hand that when the clothes went between the two rollers of the wringer, and you had to be the one to crank those wringers, you found out real fast what elbow grease was all about. It wasn’t long before your arms felt like wet dish rags…very sore wet wash rags. And the next day…well you could hardly move. Maybe that’s why they only did the laundry one day a week. I mean, who could stand to do it more often than that. I know that it would give most of us more than sore arms. We would probably have a headache too.
So much has changed since those days. Washing machines really are machines now, and they wash the clothes with no effort on our part. There are sprays to get the stains out and the machine does everything from the scrubbing to spin drying. The hardest thing we have to do is fold the clothes when they are done drying in the dryer, which is a machine now too…as opposed to the clothes line and the wind.
When I think about how little time has really passed since the women of yesteryear worked a lot harder to do the same work that we do in a matter of minutes these days, I am amazed. From the mind of one inventor creating the wringer washer, to the mind of another creating a machine to do all that work for you, our world has progressed from the harsh and almost primitive way of doing laundry, when women scrubbed their clothes on a washboard or even a rock, to the ease of our modern machinery that takes all the work out of a big job, and makes it easy.
For any one whose ancestors came out to the West, homesteading probably is a word we know, and something we know a little about. Even if it is back in the history of our family, we knew that yes, the land was given to the homesteader, but in reality, they earned every blade of grass that was on their homestead. Homesteading was no easy way to live. Homesteading began when the United States government decided to give 65 acres to anyone who wanted to move out west and settle. They had to work the land for 5 years and then it became theirs. This all sounded like an amazing opportunity to many people, but there were many who came out west to get a homestead and then went back home before the 5 year timeframe was passed. They just couldn’t make it. The didn’t have what it takes. Homesteading was not a lazy man’s way to get land. This land was hard and full of rocks and trees. It had not been plowed and planted before. They would be the first to do that, and they didn’t have all the equipment we have these days to plow up the hard soil so it was suitable for growing crops on.
My grandparent were among those who came out and earned that homestead, by working that land and making it grow the crops they wanted it to grow. I doubt that they got by without ever losing a crop, because hail, drought, flood, fire, and tornados were bound to have happened at least once during that 5 year timeframe, but they stuck it out and made it work. They proved that they were tough enough to earn that homestead…to the government and to themselves.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that the ones that went home were no good, they just didn’t have what it took to make it in the old west. This was rough country, and you had to be tough to stick it out here. They had to learn to get along with the Indians too, because the Indians weren’t real happy with the White Man being here at all. Treaties had been broken to allow the west to be settled, and they didn’t like it one bit. I think we can all agree that this country was going to expand one way or the other, because as people have children and those children have children, and those children have children, and so on…well, more space was bound to be needed. Still, I suppose we should have handled it in a different way. Nevertheless, many White Men made peace with the Indians, and learned to live together. The White Man had come to the West. He was here to stay, because he had earned that homestead.
In any family, it seems that the younger children are treated differently than the older ones. They seem to get away with more, and probably get to do things earlier than the older kids. I think the main reason for this is that the parents got used to being parents. The things you worry about as new parents, like crawling around on a floor that isn’t totally sanitized, a bottle that fell on the floor going right back into the mouth, or eating dirt…for pity sakes, are just things a new parent would never allow.
Then, as the child gets a little older, and the parents see them eating worms, along with that dirt, it just gets to a point where they know the kid won’t break. Then when the younger kids come along…well, veteran parents know the ropes, and they know that you can’t control everything that happens in your kids lives. Things are just different.
Suddenly, spending the night with grandparents is ok at 2, instead of 4, and in this day and age, they get their first cell phone in kindergarten or first grade. Of course, when you think about it, these kids know more about the computer by 3 than a lot of their parents do, so I suppose it seems like they are really just little adults.
This change in the rules isn’t really their parents fault, it is just a fact of life. It has been going on for years. I think I might have been one of the last of the parents to make my girls do things by ages, but then they were only eleven months apart. Amy didn’t have to wait very long anyway.
When there are a few years between the kids, it seems like the lines of fairness and ages get blurred some, and unless the older child is right there to remind them that their younger sibling isn’t supposed to get to do stuff earlier than they did, things just slip past them, and before they realize it those younger ones are doing things two years ahead of their older siblings. And when they do realize it, the now veteran parent shrugs their shoulders and calmly remarks, “Oh well, these things happen.” I guess being the youngest ones has its perks, in some ways anyway.
I don’t know about your family, but in mine and in Bob’s, the women seemed to wear curlers in pictures a lot. The funny thing about that is that the ones wearing curlers in pictures have short hair, which would dry very quickly. So it would seem that there would be little need for wearing curlers all day, and yet here they were in picture after picture. It’s almost as if the curlers are a way to keep their hair under control for a while, much like people with long hair might wear a bun. Curlers in your picture seems to be something rather unique to my mother’s and grandmother’s generations. I know that my sisters and I would not have been caught dead outside the house with curlers in our hair…at least when we were old enough to have a say.
What always struck me as funny is the fact that whenever Mom had curlers in her hair, and the event was special enough for pictures, it seemed like Mom’s intention was to look good for the event that was upcoming. So, it always made me wonder why she left them on for the event itself. Of course, they never left the curlers in for the really special events, like church, weddings, or funerals, it was just the casual, special events that seemed to allow for curlers in the picture. There again, I would never show up for those events in curlers either, and knowing my sisters as I do, I know they wouldn’t either. It’s kind of like going out without your make up…it just isn’t done.
Nevertheless, that was a different generation. I’d like to say it was a different time, but my mom still might wear curlers in a picture, and think nothing of it. I suppose Bob’s mom might too, if she didn’t have a perm now. To that I say, to each his own, but you will never catch me in a picture with curlers in my hair.