Monthly Archives: November 2014
Driving home the other day, I started thinking about being in charge of such a machine as the automobile. At 15 years of age, most kids start learning to control this machine, and in a very short time, they are good at it. With the turn of a wheel and the press of a foot on a pedal, the car moves and the driver is in control. With careful and responsible use, the car can be maneuvered safely down life’s roads…and while driving it, we give little or no thought to just how amazing that is. A car is no small thing, and trucks are even bigger, and yet they are driven around by people who are pretty much one tenth of their size…sometimes less than that. Am I the only one who thinks about that?
Before the invention of the automobile, people did control wagons and horse drawn carriages, but the horse had some say in what happened…at least to the extent that it wouldn’t usually go running off a cliff. And maybe it wasn’t a good thing to have the horse involved exactly, because it could fight against the driver…unlike the automobile. Nevertheless, to have a machine that you have to control or it will go out of control, and to think that kids as young as fifteen are controlling that vehicle, is amazing and even mind boggling to me. And yet, it is being safely done every day.
I’m not sure just why it sometimes hits me that driving a car every day is amazing, but it does. And when my kids and grandkids started driving, it seemed even more strange to me. How could they possibly know how to handle such a machine? They couldn’t possibly be ready or capable of such a thing, but the reality is that just like me, they were ready for it. There are approximately 30,000,000 drivers in the United States today, and if even a third of them are kids, there are about 10,000,000 kids driving their cars, and most generally keeping them in their own lane and on the road. I don’t say that driving a car is the safest way to travel, because like it or not, that honor belongs to the airlines. Many people wouldn’t agree, but the numbers don’t lie.
I know my thoughts sometimes seem a little odd, but the next time you get behind the wheel, contemplate for a moment just how amazing it is that you operate a piece of machinery that is about ten times your size and you do it while giving it almost no thought at all. I guess that our minds grasp many things, and driving a car doesn’t seem to be a particularly difficult one, since it is something we master at a relatively young age. A vehicle is a complicated piece of machinery with many things to master, but we have been doing it for a long time…truly amazing.
Being the oldest child and a girl, often places her in a position of seeming to be very sophisticated. They always get to do the cool things first, and they are the first one to have friends who aren’t related. It can serve to make the younger children a little jealous, even if they do love their sister dearly. And in my mom’s family…with nine children…there were a lot of them to be jealous. The younger ones always think that the oldest gets all the good stuff.
Such was the case with my Aunt Evelyn and her younger siblings. Aunt Evelyn had a circle of friends who always did a lot of fun things together. Their parents took turns hosting parties and the girls got to do a number of cool things. When the time came for Aunt Evelyn’s turn, Grandma and Grandpa Byer rented the North Casper Club House and threw a Taffy Pull Party. Now I can totally understand how the younger kids would feel jealous about that, because they could see and smell the candy cooking and they would get none of it. What kid wouldn’t have a problem with that? All the kids I know sure would. First of all, candy is a little kids world a lot of the time, and then to add insult to injury, they weren’t going to be included in the festivities. The party was a big success, and was talked about for a long time, but by the time the other kids got to be that age, the parties were also not the big thing anymore. Or maybe it was just that Aunt Evelyn’s circle of friends, all of whom were quite social, liked doing special things. Whatever it was, the rest of the children were quite jealous…when they were little.
The years have gone by now, and that childish jealousy is a thing of the past. I don’t really think they were ever really jealous of Aunt Evelyn…at least not after a momentary passing thing, because they have always been really close. While childish jealousy fades, sophistication and beauty of spirit continue on forever. Like their sister, the rest of my aunts and uncles became wonderful people, each with their own kind of talent, and special beauty, both in person and spirit. Each wanted the best for their siblings, and loved them dearly. As children, we think that one or the other sibling might be getting something more or better, but later we realize that our parents loved us all the same. I think that had the other children been a part of such a circle of friends, as my Aunt Evelyn was, Grandma and Grandpa would have made a way to do the same kind of special party for them too. That was just how they were.
Today is Aunt Evelyn’s 86th birthday. While the years have so quickly passed, I am here to tell you that the sophistication, charm, and beauty has not. Aunt Evelyn is still a very social person, capable of putting together quite a wingding. Her sweet personality and loving kindness are always looking to make sure that others have what they need. She is a loving wife, who takes great care of her husband, my Uncle George, and makes the lives of all those around her beautiful with her ways. Happy birthday Aunt Evelyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Many little girls want nothing more than to be just like their mommy, and my cousin Shirley was no different. In her eyes, her mom was the most beautiful, sophisticated, elegant, and yet strong woman in the world. Her mom, my Aunt Ruth Wolfe was her hero. She was everything Shirley ever wanted to be. Aunt Ruth was so good at so many things. It’s strange to me, that while we saw Aunt Ruth a lot when I was a kid, somehow I didn’t know about all the things she was capable of doing. I knew about some things of course, like her gardening and cooking, but that is something lots of people are good at, so it didn’t seem unusual. While those things didn’t seem unusual to me, finding out years after her passing, that she was an artist and a musician as well, was surprising to me. Aunt Ruth was one of those people who could pick any instrument and play it like she had been taking lessons for years, and yet she hadn’t. Hers was just a natural talent. Shirley remembers the old horn she found. She took it to her mom, and within two days, Aunt Ruth could play it. Shirley is pretty sure it was a Trumpet.
Shirley tells me that Aunt Ruth had the voice of an angel, but because of her shyness, very few people ever got to hear her sing. Sadly, I don’t recall ever being privileged enough to hear her sing. She could yodel too, but only her husband, my Uncle Jim got to hear her do that. I just never realized that she was so shy. How could I have not known that? I guess she just wasn’t shy around me and the rest of our family. Shy was something Aunt Ruth never was with us. Our families loved to get together, and when they lived here in Casper, we saw a lot of them. There were picnics and camping trips to the Big Horns and Casper Mountain. Another thing I never knew about Aunt Ruth is that she was claustrophobic. When camping, she had to sleep with her head outside the tent. Where Aunt Ruth went, of course, Uncle Jim went too, so when she slept with her head outside the tent, so did he. That gave their kids something to tease them about. They were dubbed the star gazers. On one trip to South Dakota, the family went to the Rushmore Caverns. They were worried about how Aunt Ruth would do there. She made it further than expected, even going through Fat Man’s Misery, but just couldn’t make it the whole way. I’m sure my sister, Allyn Hadlock could totally agree with Aunt Ruth when it came to claustrophobia.
Over the years, she learned many things about medicine, which is another thing she and I have in common. She could care for cuts, even deep ones, without scarring and without benefit of a doctor. From setting broken noses, to cuts deep enough to almost run from heel to ankle, she could do it all. I suppose that is also what made living on the mountain top in Washington state feel safe and cozy to her. While she didn’t really like the snow and cold, she did love her mountain, and being so close to her family. While Aunt Ruth loved spending time with our family too, she was nevertheless, a Gypsy of sorts, and liked to go and see new places. The gypsy in her would eventually take the family to Nevada, California, and finally to Washington state. Shirley tells me that she was the happiest when she was traveling. After they retired, Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim traveled to Oklahoma, and wintered in Arizona and several other places where it was warm.
She gardened, canned, cooked, baked amazing cakes and then decorated them too, and she sewed their clothing. She was the kind of woman the Bible calls a blessing to her husband and family, and so she was. Today would have been Aunt Ruth’s 89th birthday. Shirley says and I agree, that her laughter is what she misses the most. It lit up her world. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Ruth!! We love and miss you very much!!
This morning, as my family worked to rake up all the leaves at my mother’s house, I found myself taken back to my childhood years. I remember the many times when my dad would tell all of us girls to get our coats on so we could go out and rake the lawn. I can’t say that it was always the most fun day of our lives, because we really didn’t want to get out there and rake…especially if it was cold outside. Nevertheless, we did as we were told, and like it or not, we raked up all those leaves. These days when we rake Mom’s lawn, we have to tell ourselves that it is time, because Dad isn’t here to get things started. Still, we know that he loved his yard, and he would want it taken care of, so we get out there and take care of it. Today was that day that we told ourselves that the time had come…before the bad weather that is coming on Monday, showed it’s ugly face.
We usually send out a text to the people that we know we can count on to be there, and Mom and Cheryl provide the breakfast of donuts and a lunch of sandwiches and chips. When all the workers have assembled, the work begins. We normally have three or four men show up too, but this year just didn’t work out. The men were either out of town or working. Thankfully, we had my niece, Jenny Spethman’s boys, Xander, Zack, and Isaac to strong arm the bags full of leaves out to the alley for us. Other than those boys, we girls were the worker bees for the day. We had a great time, laughing and fighting the wind for the leaves. I know that a number of them ended up down the street instead of in the bags, because we had a pretty good wind going.
We had a couple of other helpers that we hadn’t exactly planned on, as well. My niece, Jenny’s daughter, Aleesia, and my niece Jessi Sawdon’s dog, Daisy. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but suffice it to say that the two of them managed to remove as many leaves from the piles as they stuck into them. While Jenny was trying to bag the leaves, Aleesia wanted to help, but instead of putting leaves in the bag, she pushed them the other way…out of the pile. As to Daisy, she thought the leaves were something to pay with…or at least in, so she would jump around in the leaves and try to play with the workers. It was all pretty cute, and despite the distractions, we did manage to get the leaves raked up before lunchtime. It just goes to show you what a few worker bees can do.
When Bob and I went to Forsyth, Montana every summer, it was to connect with his family members who lived too far away the see every day. Each had their own special way of doing things, and their own personality. So many memories about those days stand out in my mind, but today is about Bob’s uncle, Eddie Hein. Eddie was and still is a hard working man with a gentle way about him. I have always enjoyed the visits that we had to his home, and his wife Pearl was always so sweet too. If you ever left their home hungry, it was your own fault. They loved entertaining, and Pearl is an amazing cook.
Eddie and Pearl were also very busy people. In addition to their jobs, they helped to care for some of Pearl’s family members. Having done that, I know that it is a big job, filled with emotions. You also have to have the help and support of your spouse, and I know that Pearl was always able to count on Eddie to be there for her. For a caregiver that is a vital thing. Caregiving is a stressful thing anyway and when your spouse is making things more difficult at home, that adds a terribly large amount of stress. Eddie didn’t do that to Pearl. And that has made all the difference.
Eddie has always been serious family man. His family was always his first priority. I remember the garden he and Pearl had, and the lovely addition he put on their house to provide some much needed space. He was always very handy, and he could build just about anything he put his mind to. He spent a lot of time in his shop working of projects he set himself to do. He always had something going on, and pretty much always had a way to fix whatever needed fixing. And whether you are traveling or not, that is a handy person to have around. But, that was just Eddie. He was always willing to help someone when it was needed.
There are many things that have always endeared Eddie to me and my family, but probably the biggest one, was his great sense of humor. Eddie loved a good laugh and a good joke, and he has a great laugh. I always loved the ones he pulled on Bob…like the time he pretended to give Bob a buzz cut. I’m pretty sure Bob knew the sheers weren’t plugged in, but maybe he didn’t. Either way, Bob did his best to protect his long hair…at least for a few more months. Today is Eddie’s birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When it comes to being spacey, kids take the cake. As a child, I remember telling my mom that I couldn’t find something, such as shoes, books, and homework, to name a few. Mom would always say that we needed to go look for it, and “Don’t walk around looking at the ceiling!” Her point was that it obviously wouldn’t be up there, or where ever else we were scanning in such a manner, and it was time to really look. It was really a laziness way to look for something, hoping that if Mom thought we had tried, she would come and really look for it. It seldom worked, and when she found it quickly by really looking, you could bet the next time she helped was a long way off.
One of the funniest things kids do is to look for something that they already have on, or in their hand. We have all done this one…and it is one of the spaciest things to do. It’s like saying, “Where is my cell phone?” only to be told that it is in your hand. Now, that’s embarrassing!! This one happened to my daughter, Amy when she was a little girl. She was getting dressed, and started looking all around for something. I asked her what she was looking for, and she told me her shirt. When I said that she had it on, she was totally surprised, and I laughed for quite a while about that one. It still makes me laugh.
Of course, kids aren’t the only spacey people around. How many times have you seen someone looking for their keys or their glasses only to find that they are carrying the keys in their hand, and their glasses are sitting on top of their head, or hanging on a lanyard around their neck. Of course, when that is pointed out, they are always embarrassed, because that makes them as spacey as the kids. For the adults, I suppose it is just because we have our minds on so many other things, but it still feels like we should be a little more organized. And speaking of organization…don’t get me started. How many times have you put something important in a safe place so it doesn’t get lost…only to find that you can’t remember just where that safe place was. You search and search, and finally find a way to replace it. Then you remember where you put it…of course.
I think that as people get busier they forget things more often, and by the time the retire and aren’t so busy anymore…then for many, the memory isn’t so great, so the whole problem gets worse…my mother-in-law, for example. We had the worst time with her glasses for a while, only to find out that she was giving them away to “help” one of the other residents. It was a nice gesture, but a little pricey. So we had to get her a lanyard, so she couldn’t take them off so easy. It just goes to show you that when it comes to spacey…kids don’t corner the market. Everyone has the opportunity to do this at any time.
Monday nights during the school year, basically September to late April or early May, Bob and I bowl on a league at Sunrise Lanes in Casper. There are a few fun things we do there, like bowling poker, pushing nickels, and the high game pot. I don’t often win the poker hand for some reason, but I continue to play anyway. I suppose that the winners vary pretty well, but it does sometimes seem that the same people win a lot. It really doesn’t matter, since it’s only a dollar a game to get in. Obviously, the more cards you get the better your chances of winning, and I’m not a bad bowler, so I usually get enough cards to have a fair shot…since two cards are taken for every strike and converted split, and one for every spare.
I don’t play poker any other time, but in years past, I played Cribbage with my Uncle Bill when he would visit or we would visit there, and Spades with Bob’s grandfather whenever we would go to visit in Forsyth, Montana. Those are always fond memories for me, because these men were two people that I very much enjoyed spending time with. They were also pretty much the only people who I played cards with…not because I refused to play cards with anyone else, but simply because they were the only ones I knew who really played cards much.
As I was gathering my cards to turn them in at the end of the game at bowling on Monday night, I looked at them, and decided that they were really a particularly bad hand. Almost nothing matched, and nothing lined up for a straight or flush either. Without thinking, I made the comment that I had a hand like a foot. That was something I hadn’t thought of in years. I thought that it was Bob’s grandfather who used to call it that, but then I thought maybe it was my Uncle Bill. I honestly am not sure, but I know that I always thought that was quite funny. Nevertheless, it described the hand that I had quite well.
I haven’t played regular cards in a number of years now, but in many ways, I think I miss that. I know it really isn’t about the card game, but about the time spent with those two dear men. We always related so well to each other, and I miss the fun times we had. Bob’s grandfather is gone now, having passed away ten years ago on October 22, 2004. While my Uncle Bill is still living, Alzheimer’s Disease has taken many of his memories away from him now, and I am simply thankful that he knew who we were after we told him that we were his brother’s family, when we visited him recently. Cribbage came up, but I’m not sure he would remember how to play anymore. Whichever of these two dear men used to say, a hand like a foot, no longer really matters, because I don’t think I will ever hear that again, except in my own memory.
Losing a loved one is never an easy thing, but rather seems to be an inevitable part of life. There is never a good time for it, and in fact, when it involves a baby or a child, it is always too soon. They haven’t had the chance to have a life really, not like their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and even their parents. Nevertheless, losing a loved one…no matter their age, is a heart wrenching thing. Those who remain feel hollowed out inside, because there is simply an emptiness that always remains in the place that had been inhabited by the loved one who has passed. For a Christian, it isn’t about thinking they will never see that person again, because we believe that those who live in the Lord, never see each other for the last time. It’s more about not really being prepared to wait for that day to come, when they will finally get a glimpse into Heaven, and know the absolute joy their loved one has been experiencing since they went home.
None of us gets to go through life without ever losing someone…at least not if we have spent much time here on Earth. Still, the loss of a child seems to be an especially cruel type of loss. It is one I have never personally experienced. Other members of my family have, but I can’t really know the pain they feel. The loss of an infant, whether through miscarriage or after they were born, must be excruciating. The parents can’t imagine letting their baby go on ahead of them to Heaven, because they are simply too little to go somewhere alone. Nevertheless, we can’t go, because they live in Heaven now, and we do not. We are still waiting for our turn to go, so that we can finally have that first glimpse.
We have to trust in the Lord to be there with our loved one to show them the way…or maybe it is really us who need the help. We are really the ones who don’t know the way. And it’s not the way to Heaven that is lost to us, but rather the way to go on…here, that eludes us. Our hearts just feel like they are too tired to take another beat, and yet they must. There are others who depend on us too. We have to carry on. It will most likely be the hardest thing anyone ever has to do.
On this day, four years ago, my niece, Jenny and her husband, Steve Spethman received a beautiful little daughter named Laila Elizabeth. She was the gift they had waited for, the daughter after three sons. Her time here would be very short…just eighteen days, but her memory will last forever, as will her life in Heaven. Losing Laila made it very hard to move forward, but Jenny and Steve took that step in faith again and receive a little sister for Laila, named Aleesia Juliette. She would bring much joy to their still broken and fragile hearts, but Laila will never be far from their thoughts…or the thoughts of her three older brothers, Xander, Zackery, and Isaac. They will all continue to look forward to that first glimpse of Heaven, and the time when they will be united with Laila forever. Happy birthday in Heaven Princess Laila. I know it will be a wonderful day. We love you baby girl, and we can’t wait to get to know you in Heaven.
When it comes to teaching babies how to do things, it seems like we all want a part in it. We may not even realize that we do, but we do. As mothers, we try many things to get our babies to eat solid foods…especially those dreaded vegetables. You might see a mother pretending that the spoon is an airplane or a train, hoping that her child will decide that food on a train or plane tastes better, or won’t notice that the dreaded vegetable has been eaten. Maybe those things work and maybe they don’t but either way, they can look very funny, and to think that as teenagers we were always thought of as pretty cool…so what happened? The thing I find really funny is that the mother always opens her mouth to apparently show the child what he needs to do. Like a kid who hates his vegetables is going to open his mouth just because his mommy did, right. I think not. Of course the funniest face in the food game is that of a child who absolutely hates the food he is getting. They look like you have just given them poison and…seriously, how could you be such a bad parent, but have you ever noticed that even a baby who hates food, happens to find her toes, she has no problem putting those in her mouth.
Something women tend to do for no real reason is the open mouth to put on mascara maneuver. I really don’t know what purpose this serves, but yes, I do it too. And, I don’t know of a single woman who wears mascara that doesn’t do that. Maybe it’s an instinct, but I simply can’t understand why. It’s rarely something I think of when I am putting on my mascara, but when it is mentioned…usually by a man…I have to wonder why I do it. They say that it doesn’t make it easier to get your mascara on, but they can’t convince my mouth of that fact. It just instinctively wants to help, just like the mom who opens her mouth to get baby to eat. I don’t know, maybe there really is an eye mouth connection.
Then, of course, there is the child having his first birthday. It’s only one candle, but for some reason, not even the baby’s breath can manage to blow it out. If you want those candles to stay lit, they simply won’t, but if baby is trying to blow them out, they are like a never ending flame. Have you ever looked around at the other people who are watching? I’ll bet that about half of them have their mouth puckered up trying to help the baby blow out the candles. They aren’t blowing out any air, they are just puckered up…almost like they are throwing a kiss, and the baby just sits there looking at the pretty candle. I’m not even sure they really want to blow it out. Whatever the reason, you will find no such difficulty when told to eat that cake. That kid…even the one who hates everything, will dive right in, and have a totally different look on their face. But then, the look on your face might be different if you were eating cake too.
Since man first learned to fly, there have been many kinds of planes. It seems like everyone is trying to improve on them. Hollywood producer, Howard Hughes was one of the people who wanted to do something new with planes, so he founded Hughes Aircraft Company in 1932. He tested cutting-edged aircraft that he had designed and in 1937 broke the transcontinental flight-time record. He then broke the world record in 1938 by flying around the world in 19 hours and 14 minutes. Those were amazing feats, but it was another of his planes that caught my dad’s interest.
After the United States entered World War II, the government asked Hughes Aircraft Company to build a large flying boat capable of transporting men and materials very long distances. The concept had originally been that of Henry Kiser, but he dropped out and Howard Hughes took over. The plane was built mostly of birch, but also of spruce, due to wartime restrictions on the use of steel. The wood was laminated with plastic and covered in fabric. The design gave the plane a gray/white color, and since spruce was used in the design, the plane was dubbed the Spruce Goose. The plan was for it to be able to transport 700 men at a time. The plane had a wingspan of 320 feet and it was powered by eight propeller engines and was designed to take off and land on the water. It’s first and last flight was on November 2, 1947. It wasn’t originally intended to be a flight, but just a taxi trip on Long Beach Harbor. Howard Hughes decided on a whim to fly it. It flew 70 feet over the water for one mile before landing successfully.
Since me dad had built planes at Douglas Aircraft Company before going into the service during World War II, the Spruce Goose really intrigued him. It was such a novelty…whether it was supposed to be or not. When Mom and Dad were in McMinnville, Oregon, they finally had the opportunity to visit the Evergreen Aviation Museum and see the Spruce Goose for themselves. I can just hear the thoughts going through my dad’s head the moment he saw it. I’ll bet it was all he could do, not to jump up and down with excitement. I’m sure it was an awesome moment.
I don’t know if Dad ever saw the video of the first and only flight of the Spruce Goose or not, but I have had the chance to see it. It was amazing to see a plane with a wingspan that was longer than a football field actually be able to get in the air. To me though, it seemed like that flight took a lot of effort. I don’t think I would have wanted to trust it to fly the long distance flights to Europe and such. Still, it flew, and it is the largest plane, and no one can take those things away from the Spruce Goose.