Monthly Archives: August 2014

Broken wristI love the two annual family get togethers that the Byer side of my family has. It seems like each year brings the passing of another of my aunts and uncles, or at the very least, a close call, and as each of them gets a little older, the possibility of losing another of them seems very real. This year when Aunt Virginia arrived, with her arm in a sling, we found out that she had fallen the day before and broken her wrist. It will be in a cast as soon as the swelling goes down a bit, but when I think of what could have happened, had her granddaughter, Autumn Beadle not been there, I cringe. Autumn is so good to her, as are her son Steve and his wife, Wanda.

The picnic, on Sunday, was a lot of fun. The day was beautiful, with just enough breeze to keep it comfortable. The food, as always, was great. We have so many good cooks in our family. My mom, my daughter, Amy and I had an opportunity to visit with Susie and Clyde Young, Aunt Dixie and Uncle Jim Richards, Aunt Sandy Pattan, Peter McDaniels, Aunt Bonnie AutumnCliff and Keith ByerMcDaniels, Uncle Wayne Byer, Aunt Jeanette Byer, JeanAnn Stanko, Elmer Johnson, Keith Byer, Cliff Byer and his family, Cindy Ellis, Aunt Virginia Beadle, and Autumn Beadle, Shannon and Terry Limmer, Jim Pattan, John Pattan, and so many others. I especially like that Mom got to visit with all these people, because while I am on Facebook and have a chance to connect with them, she is not. In our busy lives, it is really hard to go visit our family members at their homes, but Mom doesn’t do the computer, so when people can’t visit, she doesn’t see them much. She misses that time with her family a lot, and loves every chance she gets to see them.

I always find it interesting how much the children have grown. It gets to the point that you Elmeraren’t absolutely sure who they are. The ones I see pictures of on Facebook I can usually remember, but some you just don’t get to see as often. I can remember through the years wondering “who’s kid” this one or that one was, and my mom was having the same trouble, when she didn’t know who Mayme Williams was, or Aunt Bonnie’s great grandson, Mateo. And she’s not alone in that I hear lots of us asking, “Who does that kid belong to?” Then of course, to throw a monkey wrench in things, so people bring a friend, and you find out that it’s no wonder you didn’t know that kid…they aren’t even in the family. At least you now know that you aren’t losing your mind! That’s just how it goes at The Annual Byer Family Picnic!

MatthewWatching Matthew grow from a baby, to a toddler, to a little boy of nine years, I have seen so many changes in him. He was his daddy’s boy from the very start…in fact I am amazed at just how much he looks like my nephew, Rob Masterson. They are like twins, except for the difference in their ages. They are a lot alike in their personalities too. Both are tough guys, but when it comes to their sisters, they are as kind as can be. Matthew is so patient with the girls. He likes being big brother to Anna, and doesn’t even mind being little brother to Raelynn, and oldest sister, Christina. In some ways, I think it would be hard to be the only boy in a family of girls, but Matthew doesn’t seem to mind. He is so loving and caring toward his sisters, and he would Rob & Dustie's kidsdefend them to the end…even against his parents, if he thinks the situation warrants it. Nevertheless, he is not above torturing them himself…but, understand this…no one else had better try.

Matthew has a caregiver’s heart…a bit like his Great Aunt Caryn and his Grandma, my sister, Cheryl. Recently, when his mom, my niece Dustie, had to have surgery, he stayed by her side for two days, making sure that she had whatever she needed. Matthew may be a little boy, but his heart is great big, and he is a family man to his very core. That makes him a hero is his mother’s eyes, and I think there are a lot of us who would absolutely agree with her on that. It’s funny, that while Matthew is going to be a big third grader this year, not much has changed in his personality, because Matthew is clearly a boy who is completely settled on who he is. His family is important, and he is all about what is important.
Matthew Masterson
Matthew is, nevertheless, a macho man. He loves sports. He plays basketball and soccer, and he is learning to shoot. Like most boys his age, he is excited about all of the opportunities that have come his way in the area of sports. He never was the kind of kid to sit around doing nothing. He is always on the move. That is a good thing when it comes to sports. You have to stay on top of things if you are going to be a good player, and Matthew is a mover. He is able to scoot around quickly to be where he needs to be to do some good in the game. I am quite certain that as he grows up, he will be a great player and team member. Today is Matthew’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Matthew!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Together AgainWhen I think of my niece, Chantel’s husband, Dave Balcerzak, I am always reminded of how suited they are to each other. Chantel has told me that she liked Dave when they were kids, and had planned to marry him then, but you never know how things will turn out from the childhood years to the adult years. I’m sure that everyone, and even Chantel thought that was simply a childhood idea, as she grew up. Children, or even teenagers, rarely marry someone they knew as a child. Our ideas of the perfect mate change so much. Nevertheless, Chantel never forgot Dave, and after her divorce, she ran into Dave again, and the romance was rekindled. The rest, as they say, is history.

Dave has been such a great addition to our family. He is a loving dad to his children and to Chantel’s. He has a great sense of humor and keeps laughter in their home. Dave is a whiz with computer repairs, which is great to have in the family. With his talent, a computer can last a lot longer than it normally would have. He can even rebuild them completely…which he often does free of charge for people in need. That makes him a hero, in my book, and to those he has helped. These days, it can be a real handicap to have no computer in the family. They have become a necessary item.

I find it strange to think that Dave and Chantel liked each other as kids, and then…years later, Davethey found each other again and got together. That is the stuff that romance books are made of, but you never expect it to happen in real life. I suppose it does sometimes, but it still feels unlikely to me. Most people can barely remember the kids they went to grade school with, but these two not only remembered each other, but still had feelings for each other. I wonder where their lives would have taken them, had they not reconnected. I suppose they would have survived, but would they have been as happy as they are now? I very much doubt it. They make a good team, and they are both just exactly what the other needed. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Baby Shower HelperFrom the time he was just a little boy, my nephew, JD Parmely loved little kids. He got so excited whenever he knew he was getting a new cousin. He wanted to be involved in everything, from the baby shower, to holding the baby, to playing with the kids as they grew. Sometimes, it’s a big help to have JD take over the entertainment of all the little kids…at least until they start making too much noise or rough housing too much. I suppose that is because JD is, in reality, a big kid himself. In a lot of ways, I think he has decided that growing up is overrated, and sometimes I have to agree with him. Plus, he has lots of uncles who have never really grown up either, so he is in good company in that department. I promise you, that his Uncle Bob has never really grown up either…not one bit, in fact.

One of the coolest things to happen in JD’s recent life is the family addition of his niece, Reagan Parmely, who is his brother, Eric and his wife, Ashley’s daughter. He and Reagan get along famously, because both of them like to play. JD has the energy to chase Reagan wherever she decides to go, and for her, that is lots of fun. And now that Reagan is getting a new sister or brother in September, JD will soon have a new little one to play with. At this point, JD really has no desire to get married and have kids of his own, but he is having a great time with his cousins and niece. I guess it pays to be a kid at heart, because all the kids want to hang out with you…and that is exactly what has happened to JD. My grandchildren felt the same way when they were little. JD was the fun guy at all the family gatherings.

Last year, JD bought his first house. It had belonged to his grandparents, and in my opinion, Helping Reagan with her cupcakethe house had felt so lonely. I was so glad that he bought the house, because a home should be lived in, not sitting empty. When JD moved in, there was activity there again. I can’t say if the house feels any less lonely, because those walls can’t talk to me, but I am pretty sure the garage has never felt better. JD loves to work on his multiple vehicles, and therefore, spends hours in the garage…even into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes. JD would have to be called a Vehicle Fanatic, because his must own twelve or fourteen of them. It’s just what he does. And that’s ok. If he enjoys it, he should do it. It’s what makes JD…well, JD!! Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day. Don’t work too hard on your cars, and try to get some sleep!! We love you!!

Icy WatersWhen I think of glaciers and icebergs, I often think of the Titanic. Sailing into an area that is filled with floating ice has a tendency to take your mind down that road. Of course, the icebergs we saw were not of the size that the Titanic hit, at least not the ones we got very near to. We were also traveling quite slowly, and in daylight, making it easier to see if there is a dangerous piece of ice that we need to maneuver around. Nevertheless, in the back of my mind, lived a little picture of Titanic sinking beneath the water. It wasn’t that I was afraid, because I wasn’t, but rather a matter of being able to relate to the situation the Titanic was in, and knowing that no one was doing anything about it, when it was the Titanic heading into a death trap. I was thankful that so much more is known today about the damage that icebergs can cause, because it makes it possible for us to get close to these amazing natural ice sculptures, to view their amazing beauty, and yet, still remain safe.

As we sailed closer and closer to the Margerie Glacier, in Glacier Bay, I found myself completely in awe of the beauty God had created from ice. No human could have created Whale IcebergMargerie Glaciersomething so grand. As we came closer and closer, I couldn’t stop snapping pictures. I wanted to get every possible angle of the glacier. I wanted to forever fix it in my memory files. I wanted to be able to picture it in my mind…and I can. I think I will always be able to see the stunning blue color and the amazing crevasses. There is never enough time to see it for as long as you would like to, and all too soon, we had to move on. In all, we saw close up views of three glaciers, and distant views of countless others. The ice filled water began to disappear, and we couldn’t see the icebergs anymore. I found that I was feeling a little bit sad that our time at the glaciers was over. It felt like we had only just arrived, and now we were leaving.

Of course, I’ve seen glaciers before, but I simply don’t remember them being as beautiful as the ones we saw in Alaska. The colors were so stunning. It was almost like the blues were Glacier Colorspainted onto the ice. The Margerie Glacier is 21 miles long, beginning on Mount Root, at the Alaska/Canada border, and it is a mile wide. The sheer size of the glacier is amazing to me. And, of course, the other glaciers in Alaska are of similar size. The colors are that amazing blue that you see in the ocean waves. I loved looking at the glaciers and icebergs. It seemed so peaceful there, and yet in reality, they are constantly changing…they are a work in progress. Each day, chunks fall off, and they add snow often, so the beauty changes and changes. But one thing is for sure, no matter how they change, they never lose that beauty. And that is the memory that will live on in my memory files.

Anchorage seasons apartments 1964 after earthquakeAnchorage school 1964 after earthquakeWhile my husband, Bob and I were in Anchorage, Alaska recently, we went to the area visitor’s center, where we watched a movie about the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake that occurred there. It was the largest earthquake in the history of the United States, registering 9.2 on the Richter Scale. The earthquake occurred on March 27, 1964 at 5:36pm, just 5 years after Alaska became the 49th state. It was Good Friday, and a lot of places had closed early for the holiday…a fact credited for savings lives. The death toll was relatively low, at 131…most of whom were killed by the tsunami that followed the quake. That number is amazing when you consider the magnitude of the quake. The property damage, was a very different thing. The main street became two levels. The school split into two sections, homes were leveled, and streets were split down the middle. All that is common in earthquakes…especially of that magnitude, but there were some things that were less common.

At the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, there exists a stand of dead trees. It might make sense to cut these trees down, but it would not be an easy thing to do. The ground dropped 10 feet in the 1964 earthquake, and the influx of salt water from Petrified TreesGreat Alaska Earthquake 1964the inlet killed the trees…petrifying them at the same time. To cut the trees down takes approximately 4 hours per tree, and seemed too impossible a job to tackle. The settlement of Portage, Alaska sank six feet, putting it below sea level. The town doesn’t really exist now, except as a ghost town. Everyone has had to relocate to nearby high ground.

But the area that hit me the most was an area called Earthquake Park. The four minutes that the earthquake rattled the area caused the Turnagain Heights neighborhood to virtually disappear. I guess the damage to that area is technically a landslide, but it was really more of a wave motion. During those four minutes, the land rolled up and down like a roller coaster. When the quake was over, many of the homes in that neighborhood had been literally swallowed up by the quake. As we looked at the area during our city tour and again as we walked the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, it felt so strange to me. Our guide told us that if you walked through the land that went uphill and then down hill, just like a wave, you could still see chimneys sticking up out of the ground, where the home that was attached to them had literally disappeared beneath the earth. I simply couldn’t imagine what it must have been like to have the home you High WaveLow Wavewere in, be swallowed up by the earth. I was not able to get any death toll that was specific to the Turnagain Heights area, but with so many people home for the coming holiday, I think there must have been several or even more. It’s hard to describe what I felt in the Earthquake Park area, but I guess it was a mixture of awe and loss. I don’t know how that much devastation could occur on a holiday weekend, with no loss of life. The area felt like you needed to be quiet…as a show of respect maybe. I can’t really say exactly, I just know that it is a place I will not soon forget.

Cruise CrazeIn times past…long before the Cruise Craze occurred, the average person didn’t really travel by ship. Immigrants did, but mostly they spent their entire life’s savings to make the journey to a new country, and often they traveled in the steerage class…without all the amenities of the people in 1st class. As we saw on the movie Titanic, the 1st class passengers were treated like royalty, because they had a lot of money, while the others were kept separate…like they might rub off on the 1st class passengers, or get them dirty or something.

These days, the rich and famous don’t exactly take cruises. If they want to cruise, the get a yacht or they just fly to where they want to go, often in their own plane. If they are on a cruise ship, then they are really traveling incognito, because I have not Cruise Craze IInoticed anyone rich or famous on my two cruises. Mostly I think that the cruise vacation gives the middle class citizen the chance to live like a king for a few days, and forget their problems for a while.

On the cruises I have taken, as well as the ones my family has taken, there are people from all walks of life, sharing this space and the amenities it offers for a little time of respite from their day to day working lives. And how cool is that!! There is no snobbery, and no special place to dine that only the rich can go. Everyone is treated like royalty. Although, unless you get a balcony room, there is one deck you don’t have access to. No great loss, if you ask me.

I find that quite refreshing really. So often, we are placed in classes, whether we like it or not. You can play golf and the club…if Cruise Craze IIIyou can afford the fees. You can belong to this or that club…again, if you can afford it. And it is true that the people on a cruise ship must be able to afford the cost, but there are ways to keep the cost down and still have an amazing time. It is something you can save up for, and take your own opportunity to live like kings for a little while.

I think everyone should try this type of trip when they can. It gives you an opportunity to let someone else wait on you for a while, and all you do is sit back and enjoy the ride. It is such a great way to de-stress, and don’t we all need that once in a while? I know I do. Give it a try. It’s great to live like kings…even if it’s only temporary.

Seal wavingPrior to going on our whale watching tour, I hadn’t given any more thought to seals, otters, and sea lions than I had to whales. In fact, I wasn’t really sure which one was which. Maybe I should have known that, but then maybe some of you don’t either. After our whale watching tour, I decided that maybe I should clarify that in my own mind…especially if I was going to write about them.

So, here is what I found out. The seal has smaller front flippers and an ear hole, no flap. They can’t move around on land as easily and the sea lion. It is a seal that can be seen waving to me as I took its picture. The sea lion is bigger than a seal. It has an ear flap, not just an ear hole. It also has larger front flippers, allowing it to move more easily on land. Sea lions love buoys. They seem to think that is their personal sun bathing space. Apparently buoys have to be cleaned periodically…I did not know this either, and the only way to clean it is to use a type of crane on a boat to lift it out of the water. Otherwise, the sea lions keep climbing back on and won’t allow the buoy to be cleaned. So it was the sea lions I photographed on the buoy. I didn’t see any otters, but apparently, otters get cold, so they are covered with hair for warmth. they have as many hairs per square inch, as are in the entire human body! Imagine being cold enough to need that much hair. But then, I guess they do spend a lot of time in the water.

We really enjoyed watching the seals and sea lions. They were so cute. When I took the picture of the seals, I had no idea that I had captured one waving at us…until I looked at my pictures. I was so excited then. I had heard that the seals like people, and liked to put on a show for them. This little guy sure did. He not only waved at us, but it looked like he was calling his friends over to join in. All the pictures I took of the seals were great. There were dozens of them, just floating in the water, relaxing, enjoying themselves. The sea lions were so funny. They kept vying for a space on the buoy. It reminded me of a bunch of people trying to get to the front row of a free standing room only rock concert. I never thought of that kind of thing happening in the wild, but I guess all animals try to prove their superiority…or they Sea lions on a bouywere simply sunbathing and that was the only buoy in the area.

We never had the chance to see an otter, but if I ever do, I will know what it is now. I think once you take the time to learn about something like that, you never really forget. I don’t have to look at my pictures to see the sea lions and seals, they are imbedded in my memory files now. Spending a little time around these amazing animals, and around the whales was so special. It was the trip of a lifetime, and a tour of a lifetime. These animals were amazing!! Would I go in search of whales, seal, sea lions, and otters again. Absolutely!! Just give me the chance, and I’m there.

So HappyWhen we first met my brother-in-law, Mike Reed, I don’t think he was really ready for our family. That phase lasted for just about five minutes…and then Mike was showing off his great sense of humor. He loves to pick on his sisters-in-law, and nobody is safe. Mike is quick witted and funny. Half the time, you have no idea what to expect from Mike, but then maybe his teasing is in self defense. I think my sister, Caryl really enjoys that about Mike. A home that has laughter is definitely a happy home…and they are so happy.

With the purchase of a place in Casper, on Poison Spider Rd, we are looking forward to the day when they will finally live closer to us. Mike and Caryl have been spending a lot of their weekends at their new place, tearing down old buildings, and putting up fencing. It just looks better and better every time they come down. Mike is very talented at most carpentry work, as well as lots of other household repair jobs, so he doesn’t need to hire the work done for very many things. He has become one of our go to people for things around my mom’s house too. It can be a real asset to have people in the family that can take care of the things that need done around a house, because it saves you so much money…and Mike often works for food, hahaha!! I think that is how we get back at him for all the teasing he does to us. Just kidding Mike!!

Mike is a very loving family man…devoted in every way. He has made the transition into a blended family better than most stepfathers would have. That is because he really cares about the kids, and now, grandkids that he and Caryl have been blessed with. Now with the addition of the new place and the future addition of horses, I know the kids and grandkids will all love Mike in the Bahamasto come to their place. That might just apply to a whole lot of the nieces and nephews too.

Caryl and Mike love to go 4 wheeling and camping, and can sometimes be found doing just that with our sister Allyn, and her husband, Chris Hadlock and their family, and our sister, Alena and her husband Mike Stevens. They enjoy sitting around the fire and just enjoying the evening. Caryl and Mike also love to entertain, and have barbeques and get togethers at their place and at their cabin at Seminole Lake. So, we have all had the chance to enjoy their places. Thanks Mike and Caryl!! Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Amy at Gma'sMy husband, Bob doesn’t often give the past a lot of thought. He is one of those here and now types of people. It isn’t that he doesn’t remember the past, or even that he doesn’t think about it once in a while, but if he does, he doesn’t mention too many things that he is thinking about. Nevertheless, he made an exception while we were on our cruise.

As is the case with most cruises, you see a variety of people…many of them children. And, you get a variety of behaviors from these children. Obviously, you will see the well behaved children, and the misbehaving children…and everything in between. But, it was neither of these types of children that caught Bob’s eye, but rather a little blonde girl skipping along with her family on their way to breakfast.

After they passed us, Bob turned to me and said, “Did you see that little girl?” When I said Daddy's Little Helperthat I didn’t, he told me that she reminded him of our Amy when she was little. Amy never walked anywhere. She either skipped, ran, or at home, it was far more often somersaulting down the hallway. I mean, why walk when you can somersault…right? Amy just couldn’t stand to waste a perfectly good hallway, or any other carpeted area, on simple walking. Carpets were much like a tumbling map, and that was all it took to get Amy tumbling merrily on her way from room to room. We always laughed about that, because it was so cute to see her rolling down the hallway and then getting up to go into her room and play.

As we thought about the little girl he had just seen, it was easy to imagine that she was a girl who was excited about life, and just couldn’t stand to simply walk. That was exactly what Amy was like as a little girl. If she wasn’t swinging on the table like only a tiny girl could, then she was somersaulting down the hall, or swinging from the bars on the swing set. She could easily have been Tarzan’s baby…swinging from the trees. Or you Swingingmight just as likely find her up on the bumper of Bob’s truck, helping her daddy. Amy was always excited about the next thing coming her way.

Amy and her family recently took a cruise too, and she was so excited about going. I know she is a grown woman now, but I have a feeling that it was all she could do not to go skipping along on the deck of the ship heading to breakfast with her family, or anywhere else that she went for that matter. Those old habits die hard, and when you are a skipper, you find that it’s really hard to contain all that excitement…just like that little girl Bob had seen.