Monthly Archives: August 2013

scan0052When you are young, your cousins are often your friends too. Mostly that is because their parents are related to yours, so it’s easy to get together. Your parents probably get to fairly often, so no play date arrangements are necessary. Cousins are often our first friends, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you will remain good friends. Many times, cousins who were friends in the beginning of life drift apart as the years go on. Still, there are a blessed few who remain friends no matter where life takes them, and no matter what life presents them with.

I can’t say how close my mother-in-law remained with Siara and Laceyher cousins over the years, but I suspect that they might have drifted apart, because she moved from Montana in the early years of her marriage, and without internet, the best way to connect with friends and family was letter writing. Now, maybe she was better at that than I have been over the years, but I think that might have just been because they didn’t have a better way…except the phone, and that could get expensive back then.

My niece Lacey, and my grand niece, Siara are both out of high school and Lacey has started her career, while Siara is still in college. So far, they have remained close friends who see each other when they can. It’s a little more difficult for them now, with 1044309_3227368579472_538938445_ntheir busy lives. Still, they are working through things and keeping their friendship alive, at least for now.

As to my grand niece Christina and my granddaughter, Shai, the future is not set. They are still in high school, and while they are very close right now, things could change as their school days end. I have a feeling that they will be as close as Lacey and Siara have been, but only time will tell on that thought. It is my hope that they will stay close, like many in our family have. We have had several cousin friendships in our family, and personally, I think there is something extra special about them. They are more than close friends…they are as close as cousins.

019editedjpgWith the advent of the railroad in America back in the early 1820’s, came the fascination with trains and the railroad in general. It is a fascination that has never really ended. Even though some of our railroad tracks are now being dismantled, I don’t believe that the railroad will ever really go away. So many things are transported by rail, many of which could not feasibly be transported any other way…coal being one of the biggest industries to which the railroad is vital. My family worked in the lumber industry back in the early 1900’s, and at that time lumber and lumber products were transported by rail. There were no semi-trucks to transport things, so most things were transported to other areas of the country by rail.

Early on there were huge ceremonies to celebrate the railroads entrance into a new town. 027editedPeople just understood how important the railroad was to their way of life. Travel became easier, supplies and mail reached people faster, and the standard of living in the West vastly improved. It was a win win situation for everyone concerned

With all those changes, also came the advent of the railroad photo op. Everyone wanted their picture taken by the tracks, it seems. I have come across several pictures where the railroad tracks are the main focus of the shot. I can understand the fascination, but I was surprised by the number of people who felt the same way I did about them. Pictures weren’t as common back in the early 1900’s, although they were apparently more common than I would have thought. Still, no matter the cost, no matter how frivolous, people wanted pictures with the railroad in them. It was such a novelty, and it was a piece of history. It was their chance to prove that they were there.
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Apparently, not much has changed over the decades or even the last century, because it seems to be the latest thing again, to have your picture taken on or beside the railroad tracks. Senior pictures and even family pictures are being taken there by lots of photographers, like my friend, Tammie Williamson of Williamson Creations Photography. Tammie displays railroad photographs on her photography site quite a bit. Like so many other people throughout history, she and many other people today still like the tracks for photographs. It’s just part of our fascination with the railroad, the trains, and the tracks that move them along.

CCI08292013When you have known someone a long time, you assume that you know pretty much everything about them. That is not always the case, however. Sometimes, you learn great things about people after the have passed away. Such was the case with my father-in-law. I always knew that he was a very capable mechanic. He had also trained himself to do cement work, carpentry, and masonry work…building their house himself back in the 70’s, when my girls were just little toddlers.  His skill in building that home amazed me. He just instinctively knew how to do it…or so it seemed to me at the time, and maybe it was so. People sometimes to have a skill they just come by naturally, and without any real training.

I also knew of all his craft skills. He could re-weave lawn chairs with the design of the person’s choice, and he could make lawn decorations, such as whirligigs, birdhouses, and tin men. He was well known around Casper, and even had a story written about him in the Casper Star Tribune. All that work kept him pretty busy in his retirement years, and with his passing there have been a lot of people who miss him very much…you see, part of his charm was that he didn’t just make something and sell it to y0u, he talked to you…got to know you…and made you his friend.

Still, when you are a self taught, jack of all trades, one would expect that the work you do is…along the lines of simple…nothing elaborate. With my father-in-law, that couldn’t be further from the truth. When I was looking through the pictures we took from his home, I came across some pictures of masonry work he did while Snow Birding in Arizona. He was never a man to sit around and do nothing, so even though he was supposed to be retired…and relaxing, here he was building patios, steps, and garden enclosures in Arizona. I suppose that the fact that the work was done in Arizona, and the fact that my CCI08292013_0001father-in-law was never a man to brag on himself, makes it a little less surprising that I didn’t know about this work.

When I looked at the pictures of the work he had done, it occurred to me that I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did. Here was a very talented man…self taught, to be sure, but amazing well taught too. The work is beautiful, I’m sure you will agree. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 84th birthday, and it is the first his family has spent without him. Happy birthday in Heaven Dad!! I know it will be a great day!! We love and miss you very much!!

scan0048When my niece, Lindsay was born, she was all smiles and lots of personality. She had lots of curly dark hair and was a real beautiful baby. When you know someone from birth, it is sometimes hard to picture them as adults, with careers. You watch then go through grade school, junior high and then high school, but they still seem like kids to you. Then suddenly they have graduated from high school and headed off to college. Those little kids days are gone, but somehow you still can’t think of them as an adult…until college graduation…because somehow that brings the whole point home.

Lindsay began her studies at Casper College, where she achieved an Associates Degree in Fire Science. Then she decided to change her field of study. Having always been Pho50A2interested in nutrition and exercise, she decided to go into something in those fields. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion, and then her Masters degree in Nutrition, Exercise, and Food Science. Her schooling was over and Lindsay would be stepping into a new life, and a new career.

It really hit home for me, that Lindsay was all grown up, when she was hired at South Dakota State University. Oh yes, she has had jobs before, but not a career, and there is a difference. Lindsay is a Community Food Policy Field Specialist. If you are like me, you probably have no idea what that is. According to the South Dakota State University website, “Her major focus is to bring policy-informing research together with outreach and engagement activities to further foster community food policy councils as an important factor in healthy communities and families. Support program 522479_3840009395166_965112000_ndevelopment that aims to enhance food security.” My sister, Allyn, who is Lindsay’s mom, says “Lindsay is in charge of starting a food policy council in 5 states, to help get healthy foods into food banks and other such places. She works with farmers and ranchers to bring good, healthy food to food banks and to get support policies in place to mandate it.”

Somehow that seems like such a big job for the little girl my niece is in my head. Of course, I know that she is well trained for it and she will do very well at it. South Dakota State University is very blessed to have her. Today is Lindsay’s birthday. Happy birthday Lindsay!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

scan0010 (3)Lately, I’ve been noticing the changes in our weather that are all too familiar this time of year. It’s a feeling of fall. Even though I don’t dislike fall the way I used to, I still feel a little twinge of regret that summer is over. Still, as much as I used to love summer, these days it just feels too hot sometimes. I have started liking the cooler weather of spring and fall…winter, well I think I’ll always hate winter, except in pictures, or from inside the house.

Liking or not liking the coming fall and winter aside, I nevertheless recall some of the trips Bob and I took in the fall. Our girls were small them, so school was not a problem. We really liked those fall vacations, because there were less people traveling then…less people on the road, and less people at the places we wanted to go. The changing leaves were pretty, even though we don’t get the brilliant colors that occur in other areas of the country.

The year Corrie was born, however, we took a trip to Wisconsin to visit my Uncle Bill’s family. I will never forget the beauty of the Wisconsin fall. My only regret is that the cameras back them could not capture the beauty of it all like the ones we have now. Nevertheless, there was a definite red color. I thought back to some of the pictures my parents took of the area during their years of living in Wisconsin. The pictures are in black Unknown Lake in the Falland white, of course. The only way to see the beauty of the multi colored fall trees, is to have been there and to carry the memory of the colors. That way you could look at the pictures and add the color with your imagination. That is the way it is with all the black and white pictures of that era…sadly.

Now that our children are grown, the possibility of fall vacations again presents itself. I know I would love to go to areas of the country that have the trees that turn a firey red, and some yellow mixed in. With today’s cameras, the pictures of fall back east would be stunning. I think I might have to plan just such a trip in the near future.

484789_10201153870759098_1830409112_nMy grand niece, Aurora, who is the daughter of my nephew, Ryan and his wife, Chelsea, turns two today. Her parents had a birthday party for her this last Sunday afternoon. It was a great time…especially for the kids. It’s always a good time for kids when there are new toys involved, and Aurora is a little girl who has no problem sharing her toys. She got a new tricycle and a Razor Scooter for toddlers, among other things. Immediately, her brother, Ethan wanted to ride the tricycle, so he climbed on and took it down the hill. Aurora just watched the action, and then followed her brother down the hill…on foot.

Don’t let her practice of sharing make you think that Aurora didn’t get in on the fun, however, because she certainly did. When she saw her tricycle she immediately got on it, and while she couldn’t quite figure out how to peddle yet, her feet reached the ground, so she managed to maneuver it around. Now, I would have expected that she would have stayed on the tricycle, and allowed someone to push her around, which she did for a short time, but her big interest was in the Razor Scooter she got.
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I’m sure that she had seen her big brother using his scooter, as well as the neighbor kids, so that probably seemed like the grown up thing to have…and Aurora wants nothing more than to be grown up. She decided that she wanted to play with the scooter, and I was amazed that this little two year old girl knew how to operate it. Maybe kids have changed some over the years, but I don’t recall a two year old who would have been coordinated enough to put one foot on a scooter and use the other to push herself along. Yes, the scooter has two wheels in front, to stabilize it, but it still seems like that would be hard for a two year old to work.

Maybe Aurora had had lots of experience watching her brother and neighbor kids, and so she learned the ropes. Or, maybe she is just a very coordinated baby girl. Whatever it was, she did a great job, and I know she will have lots of fun in the future with the scooter and all her other toys. Today is Aurora’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Aurora!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!

scan0099Everyone who has ever attended a family reuinion knows that it is a wonderful way to reconnect with family who live far away. Sometimes these can be people you have never met before, like new spouses and children. It can be so much fun to get to know everyone, but there is also another aspect of the reunion, that isn’t so much fun…saying goodbye at the end. Reunions, while a lot of work, really enjoyable and informative, nevertheless, always end too soon. You make new friends, and then they are gone, and you have to try to keep up with them long distance. It seems like an easy thing, but everyone is busy, and it is hard to keep up, even with the very best of intentions. If you have the chance to attend a reunion, I highly recommend that you make the time and take that journey down memory lane.
GG Gpa, Amy, GG Gma Corrie
Those reunions bring generations together, some for the first and last time. There is never a guarantee that you will see people again when you part, but when they are elderly, the chances are even greater that the family member will pass before you get a chance tp see them again. Such was the case with Bob’s grandfather, who passed away less than two months after that reunion. I was so thankful that he had the chance to meet, what I believe were his first two great grandchildren. I’m sure that was a special to him as it was to me. My only regret was that before we could make the trip to see them again a little over two months later, he was gone. We couldn’t have taken our trip sooner, but I have always wished we could have.
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I like reunions more now than ever before, because I know their real value. I will never forget Bob’ grandfather. He was a sweet, loving man, who was a pleasure to be around. We were able to go on our trip to Washington to visit Grandma, and she was able to come back here for a vicit, and a chance to meet three more more great grandchildren. We have treasured those visits from that time forward. Still, those visits ended the same way as that first reunion…with the need to say goodbye, and that is the saddest part of it all. I really hate goodbye. It is a very sad word. I don’t like having people move away and go back home if they don’t live here. I simply don’t like saying goodbye.

Dixie Lynn Byer_editedBy the time my Aunt Dixie joined the family, there were already seven children in it. That meant lots of help to take care of the new baby. If she was anything like she is today, my guess would be that she laughed easily and often. Aunt Dixie has never been a melancholy person, but rather always seems to look for the positive things in life. That is a trait that few people have these days, and one that will make her life always rich.

Aunt Dixie has a creative side to her too. She has a talent for making things that add a touch of beauty to her life and to those around her. I can remember the many family Christmas parties that Aunt Dixie and her family have put on, and her talent is easy to see. We have all been blessed by the things she and her family have made for those parties. They always bring something new to the feel of them.

Aunt Dixie has always loved living in the country, and has had her little farm for many years now. I remember when she came to the rescue of my sisters and me, when she took the chicken/rooster my mother ended up with after one of the kids brought it home from the fair. It was cute at first, of course, and Mom’s plan was to have eggs. Having chickens in town was against city ordinance, of course, but Mom didn’t think anyone would know, since it was just one chicken. Then it started crowing, much to the embarrassment of all the rest of the family. Finally Mom gave up and admitted that it was indeed a rooster. Then she had to figure out what to do with it. Aunt Dixie saved the day by adopting the rooster. IMG_0539Now, I’m sure he became fried chicken or chicken soup, but there are worse things in life…like having to listen to that rooster crowing every morning.

Aunt Dixie loves kids…especially her grandchildren. She has 5 grandsons, and then…finally, three short years ago, she received the granddaughter she had longed for. Now her life is complete…at least until the great grandbabies start coming, but that’s another story. Today is Aunt Dixie’s birthday!! Happy birthday Aunt Dixie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Steve, Jenny, Isaac, Zack & XanderMy nephew, Steve, who is the husband of my niece Jenny, is a man who is all about family. He takes an active interest in his children, and everything they are in to and up to. Oh, I know there are lots of dads who are good dads and very hands on with their kids, but that fact doesn’t make any one of them less special. Steve loves showing his boys the ropes of being a man. They are learning to use a gun…and use it safely. Steve loves most types of outdoor sports, and so taking his boys snowmobiling, fishing, as well as football, and any other sport that the boys are interested in, is what Steve is all about.

Still, as good as Steve is with little boys, he also has a very natural touch with his little girl. Aleesia was born one year ago, and just a few days before her daddy’s birthday, and she was an answer to prayer. Jenny and Steve wanted a daughter to complete their family, and they had waited a long time. Aleesia was everything they could have asked for. Now Steve finds himself in a different kind of role. Yes, he is still daddy, but girls are very different.

Steve and Jenny have stepped into their role as parents of a daughter with the same love and skill that they used with their sons, except that the role has changed from masculine to feminine. Aleesia is very feminine…she is all girl, and she loves her daddy very much. 76001_4551743267557_48308767_n_editedShe is a lot like her daddy in personality and when you put the two of them together, they have a tendency to make the exact same faces. Steve is quick to smile, and Aleesia is very much the same. When she is with her daddy, she feels like she is on top of the world…and I’m sure that is exactly where she is.

Steve is a great dad and also a great husband. He is a good Christian man who is teaching his family the way they should go, and he will be greatly rewarded for that. He has been such a wonderful addition to our family. Today is Steve’s birthday!! Happy birthday Steve!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Pho1EEAWhen I first became acquainted with my cousin, Betsy’s daughter, Autumn, I immediately liked her. It’s odd I suppose, not to know your cousin’s daughter, or at least not very well, but in big families, that is how it goes sometimes. The family just gets so big that you can really lose touch, even when you all live in the same town. I was trying to connect with all the family members to get information for a book with family information in it so that we could all at least know addresses, phone numbers, family members, and birthdays. It was a monumental effort, and I needed the help of as many family members as I could find.

That was the main reason I connected with everyone on Facebook, but then, something amazing happened. I started getting to know the people in my family…people I had never known before. That was when I met Autumn. A sweet spirit, I could see that she had a heart of gold, and that she was very loyal to those she cared about. Autumn was the type of person who extends the hand of friendship easily…much more easily than I do, because I am a little shy. She has no such problem though, and every time I see her, she is quick to say hello and visit with me, and other family members. What a blessing that is to me.

As one of the older cousins, I suppose I am viewed as being in the same group as the 216206_159049157488915_3173498_naunts and uncles, and to many of the kids, that could mean that I am viewed as boring and outdated, but that is not the way Autumn treats me. She makes a point of saying hello to me and making me feel special. How sweet is that? I think that is just the way she is with everyone, because she just seems to come by it so naturally. When you have made up your mind to treat people great, no matter who they are…young or old…you have created, in yourself, a great person. And, that is the person Autumn is. If you don’t know her…you are missing out!! Today, Autumn is sweet 16!! Autumn, I hope you have the most amazing sweet 16th birthday ever!! Happy birthday Autumn!! We love you!!