Monthly Archives: February 2015

Allyn about 5 years oldMy little sister, Allyn Hadlock was the baby of the family, and as such, she didn’t get many opportunities to be the leader…or instigator…in the things we did as kids. Now, I suppose that being the youngest can have its upside and its downside. The upside is that you are usually left out of the punishment when it comes to the things your older siblings decided to do, which you were not involved in planning, and simply went along with because your older siblings either made you, by threatening you with your life, or basically played on your gullible side and told you that it was ok. In Allyn’s case I’m sure she also got into less trouble because all one had to do to Allyn was look at her sternly and tell her that was a bad thing to do, and she broke down and cried like you had just beaten her with a club. Mom usually didn’t have the heart to spank her after that. Hmm…maybe she was the smart one after all. My sisters and I always said that Allyn was just always good, and I’m pretty sure she was, because she really hated being spoken to in such a stern way…which I would have to say was barely stern at all, but was rather her interpretation of stern.
Jump for joy
Of course, being the youngest has its downside too, in that you never get to play the cool parts in whatever game we were playing. After all, the youngest child can’t really be the mom, the teacher, or the team captain, when there are older kids involved. That is simply unacceptable. My sisters and I loved to play Club House, and we had to have a President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer. With five of us, and the jobs being assigned by age, Allyn got to be the club member, and that was pretty much it. As I recall, that left her as the delegated gofer. It worked out pretty well, since we figured that if we wanted snacks or something like that, it was best to send the baby of the bunch to ask for it. I don’t recall if she had any better luck at securing the snacks for the club…especially if it was close to dinnertime, but it seemed like the best plan nevertheless.

Allyn and EthanThose days are long gone now, but I do have to say that I think Allyn still relates quite well to the baby side of life. I’m not saying that she acts like a baby, but she does come up with some of the cutest nicknames for her kids and grandkids, and still gets down on their level to play their kinds of games…a very important part of being the grandma. Of course, I think I did pretty good with my grandkids as well, but since they are virtually grown up now, I’ll have to wait for the next generation to play the goofy games again…or borrow someone else’s little ones to play those games with. I have to wonder though if being the baby of the family gives you a very different aspect on life, however, because it seems to have done that with my sister, Allyn. Today is Allyn’s birthday. Happy birthday Allyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Siara and JakeSometimes, it hard for me to believe that my grand nephew, Jake Harman is so grown up. Jake is the oldest great grandchild of my parents, Allen and Collene Spencer. It seems impossible to me that Jake is 24 years old today. Much has changed in Jake’s life over the past few years. A while back, he started working at a FedEx receiving facility outside Casper, and now he is a supervisor at that location. Jake is not a man of great stature, so it is sometimes hard to imagine him in a supervisory position. And, Jake is a man who likes to joke around…making it difficult to imagine him in a serious position, like a supervisor. Nevertheless, that is exactly where he is, and he is doing very well at his job.

Jake doesn’t like to take life to seriously, preferring instead to laugh and joke around with those he loves. And Jake does 522848_10151136256737237_1891219628_nlove his family. Whenever I see him, he comes up to me and gives me a big hug, telling me that I am his “best friend”, a title I’m sure goes to most of the rest of the family too. Nevertheless, it always makes me feel good to know that he thinks of me as a friend, and not just his great aunt. Of course, his sister, Siara, step-brother, Keifer, and step-sister, Katy are his favorite people to goof off with. They have a great time when they are together. Still, as time goes on, the time that kids get to spend together dwindles some. It is my hope, that the friendship these kids share will always be strong.

The person in Jake’s life who has and always will hold the most special place, other than his parents, is his sister, Siara. Jake lost his first little sister, Alyssa to SIDS when she was just three months old, and while he was quite young then 1471957_10151963680267237_896054705393435108_ntoo, I think that knowing of his first little sister’s passing, makes his younger little sister that much more important to him. He just feels the need to be her protector. It isn’t whether or not she needs protecting anymore, but just that he feels the need to.

Jake is growing with each passing day, and while he, like most kids has his missteps and setbacks, I know that he will succeed in all that he sets his mind to, because he can be very focused on his goals when he wants to. I look forward to seeing where the future takes Jake, because I know that he will do well in life. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Larry, Terry, and ShirleyThe other day, I was talking with my cousin, Shirley Cameron on instant message through Facebook, when she brought up an old memory…a blast from our past. Shirley’s mom, Ruth Wolfe was my dad, Allen Spencer’s younger sister, and our families were very close…especially when the Wolfe family still lived in Casper, and we were all little kids. Shirley was the oldest of the three Wolfe siblings, with two younger brothers, Larry and Terry. My older sister, Cheryl Masterson fell in between Larry and Terry, and I was four months younger than Terry. Our three younger sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock were the youngest ones. Back in those days, the fun you had depended on your imagination. I guess we all had imagination, but Shirley really seemed to be able to come up with great ideas. And she was able to carry them out too.

We started talking about the games we played when we were out at their place, like wagon train. Of course, we didn’t have a real covered wagon or a team of horses, but that didn’t mean that we would have to be the Caryn, Caryl, and Cherylhorses for our pull type wagons, because My aunt and uncle had a tractor, and Shirley knew how to drive it. So we hooked the wagons to the tractor, and headed down the road near their place. Oh sure, sometimes the whole thing would break down, but then what would a wagon train be without a breakdown. Even in the pioneer days, the wagons broke down…right?

Shirley had a set of dishes, and like the wagon trains of the wild west, we brought our own food the long trip…usually. Of course, sometimes we had to improvise. Since we didn’t really have a way to go hunting, we had to make due with what was available to us, and the best cooking we did was when we made mud pies. They probably didn’t taste good, and I’ll never know, because I never tasted them, but we could make them look pretty good…in a hamburger sort of way. I’m sure there were other things like vegetables picked out of Aunt Ruth’s garden, and maybe apples or berries that we came across, whether they were edible or not. No matter what we came up with, real or imagined, we always had a lot of fun playing wagon train or any other game we came up with to play. It was always interesting, but I think in reality it was Shirley who had all the great Alena and Allynideas…maybe with a little help from Cheryl.

We were all as close as sisters or best friends, but we were more than that…we were cousins, and that is a forever friend…kind of like a sister is a forever friend. For Shirley, we were like the sisters she never had. Of course, we didn’t really understand what a big deal that was, because we were five sisters. We had never really known a time without our sisters, but Shirley had two brothers, and even though they were close, they weren’t like sisters. Boys think differently than girls. They like to do different things than girls. It just wasn’t the same. Yes, we played the games the boys wanted to play too sometimes, but we sure had a good time playing wagon train with Shirley.

IMG_5242IMG_5243Our family has long been proud of my brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock’s outstanding career as a police officer, first for the Natrona County Sheriff’s Department, and then beginning in 1997, for the Casper Police Department. Years ago, while working in sales, Chris found himself disenchanted with how that career was going, and saw it as basically a dead end road for him. He told my sister, Allyn that he didn’t think medicine or paramedic work was for him, but he had a desire to help people, and he really thought he could do so as a police officer. It was a big step, and one that my sister wasn’t sure she wanted him to take, but for Chris, it has been the best move he could have made. At that time, the family was living in Pueblo, Colorado, so they made the move back to Casper, and he began pursuing his chosen career.

Not everyone is cut out to be a cop…either because of their temperament or their ability to handle the situations that can some up as an officer of the law, but Chris was the best candidate for the job. He is level headed, especially under pressure, and at 6’4″ tall, he is a daunting presence to anyone considering the foolish act of resisting arrest. Even with his ability to strong arm a perpetrator, Chris is always considerate of their feelings, and often that is all it takes to calm an agitated situation without the use of force. I know this, because on numerous occasions I have taken the opportunity to ride along when he was working, and have IMG_5276IMG_5246seen him in action. I’ve watched him keep his cool, when the person he was up against obviously had a gun, and Chris was able to defuse the situation, and apprehend the man without incident.

Chris worked as one of the school officers following so many school shootings and other school related issues around our country. It made many parents feel much better about sending their children to school, knowing that the police would be there to make sure it was a safer environment. Before long, the Casper Police Department saw the leadership skills Chris had, and they promoted him to sergeant. Of course, this was not without action on Chris’ part, because to qualify for the promotions the department offers, Chris had to take a test, which he passed with flying colors. Chris did very well in the supervisory positions that being a sergeant entailed, and was so well respected, that he was offered the position of training officer. This led to the time when Chris was involved in recruiting and training the new recruits. Toward the end of his career as a Sergeant, Chris worked as a Detective Sergeant in investigations.

Friday marked the next step in a long and successful career for my brother-in-law, when he was honored as the newest Lieutenant for the Casper Police Department. His new position will place him in charge of the sergeants in Investigations. It is a position that Casper’s police chief has wanted to place Chris in for some time, and so IMG_5278IMG_5306expressed in his speech at the ceremony. Then, the long anticipated big moment arrived, when my sister, Allyn Hadlock, Chris’ wife, as given the great privilege of pinning on the shiny lieutenant’s bars and the new shield. The journey Chris has taken is a remarkable one, and we, his family are so very proud of him. He is looking forward to the next part of his career as a peace officer, and I know he will excel at it too. We all want to wish him the very best as he begins this new phase. Chris, we are so very proud of you, and all you have accomplished. Congratulations!! We love you!!

JennyOver the years, I have watched my niece, Jenny Spethman grow in so many ways. Of course, I’ve seen her grow from a little girl into a teenager, adult, wife, and mother, but those are simply the normal changes we all go through in life. Jenny has changed in so many other, more important ways though. Growth can take on very different and complicated forms, but the greatest growth is in the area of the spiritual, and it is in that area that I find Jenny to have almost literally exploded. I have watched her faith in God grow by leaps and bounds.

Life has not always been easy for Jenny. She has had her share of heartaches, as those who know her can attest, but through it all, she and her husband, Steve Spethman have never faltered on one thing…their faith in God. When people lose a child, often the first thing that is questioned is to ask God why He did this, but not Jenny and Steve. They knew that this was not God. Steve, Jenny, Isaac, Zack & XanderAnd they then doubled their focus on God’s word, and his promise that they will see their baby girl, Laila in Heaven, and until then, she is in the arms of Jesus and enjoying time with family who have also gone on to Heaven. Jenny and Steve have been blessed with their three sons, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, as well as their daughters, Laila, and now Aleesia, who is almost 2½ years old. Every day is viewed as a blessing beyond measure, even though they miss Laila terribly.

I had really never thought of Jenny as a morning person, although I don’t know why, but these days, at least, she cherishes the early morning hours, as a time to see God’s great sunrises and reflect on His teachings and promises to her. She also loves to see the moon and stars, again because she knows that God has blessed her life with such enormous beauty. I think that it is in these quiet moments of reflection, often before her family Jenny, Steve and Aleesiawakes up, that Jenny has grown closer and closer to God. She knows that He is not only her Father, Lord, and Saviour, but in all reality, her Daddy and friend. A friend that sticks closer that all others, and no matter what life brings her.

Jenny has grown in so many ways, and each area of growth has made her a more and more beautiful person, both inside and out. I am so proud of her and all that she has become. I look forward to the time to come when I will see her grow even more, especially in her walk with the Lord. Today is Jenny’s birthday. You are an amazing woman, and one I am proud to call my niece. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

011aAnna, Laura, and Allen SpencerI have often wondered what our nation looked like before the Native Americans altered the landscape with the only way they really had of clearing the land…fire. When the summer grasslands would grow so tall that it made travel by horse or on foot troublesome, the Indians just started a fire to clear the area. Since there was nothing standing in the way of the fire, it ran until it came to a river or some other kind of obstacle, such as an area void of vegetation, and then it simply burned itself out. Of course, rain or snow would have the same effect too. I wonder, like many other people do, if prior to that practice, there were forests where we now have plains.

Of course, the White Man, has come a long way in trying to bring trees back into our nation, but there are still many places that are just wide open spaces filled with prairie grass, sagebrush, and cactus. When my grandparents, Anna and Allen Spencer decided to move to Texas to check out the booming oil industry, they found a land that seemed to run for hundreds of miles, with little to see, but wide open spaces. Like many people, they longed for trees, and other vegetation to give a different view to the land they found themselves living on. Having lived on five acres myself for a number of years before moving into town, I can certainly understand wanting trees. That didn’t make it easy to grow any of them up to much size, however. I suppose it tree 2might have been easier in Texas, due to their warmer climate.

I understand the need Native Americans had to clear the land, and the lack of sufficient tools to do so, when it was necessary. Nevertheless, I wish they had not burned down the trees…or the prairies, because that stopped the young trees from growing, and lets face it…we need trees for shade, and the very air we breathe. These days, with all the necessary tools, from lawnmowers to farm equipment, there is no need to burn down the prairie grass to keep it from getting so deep, so clearing the land is a much smoother project. The older I get, the more I find myself wanting trees around me, and while it is still hard to get them up to some size, due mainly to the deer that roam freely inside the city limits of Casper, Wyoming, I do have some volunteer Silver Birch trees that have moved themselves from the neighbors tree into our yard.

We were so excited when the first tree started coming up, but our neighbor, Bill thought we would be upset about the little trespassing trees, and so he cut the down…until we told him that we wanted them. Then he left them alone so we could decide to let them grow or not. That first tree is now taller that our house, and we have several in the back yard too. Before these trees began growing, we had three cedar bushes in our front yard, one that was let grow to the size of a rather ugly tree. Finally, the day came that we got one of those little trespassing trees to come up in the right place. While we liked the bushes, that ugly Cedar tree needed to go. Then that tree got to an area where it could work for what we wanted. This past summer, it had grown to the tree 120100623_4_editedpoint of being about my height. Life was good. We cut down that ugly Cedar bush that had been pretending to be a tree, and watch with excitement as our new little trespassing tree grew and flourished…and then it happened. The deer that I love to have in our yard, because they are so beautiful…decided that our little tree was just the right size for lunch. It’s hard to say if it will come back in the spring, but if not, there will be another little trespasser to grow in its place…life is still good!!!

009-Frank Knox & Joann KnoxLiving to be 95 years old is an amazing accomplishment, and one that few people are blessed enough to achieve. Today, that is the place where my husband, Bob’s great uncle, Frank Knox is. I think Frank was always my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg’s favorite uncle…doesn’t every girl have one or even two. When I found my mother-in-law’s childhood scrapbook among the photo albums and old pictures she had in a box in her closet, as we were preparing to sell their home to help pay for her care, after my father-in-law passed away, I noticed several pictures with her and her Uncle Frank, as well as pictures of him alone.

Frank was stationed in England during World War II, as was my dad. I’m not sure where in England, but it would have been interesting to see if they ever crossed paths. It’s possible that worry and the unknown were things that made my mother-in-law love 002-Frank Knoxseeing her uncle, because even when kids are young, they are well able to understand the dangers that their loved ones are being placed in, and they worry that they will not make it home. There really is no definite skill that keeps a soldier alive in a war. Some just come home, and others don’t. That is probably the thing that makes the homecoming so very sweet.

The first time I met Frank was the end of June, 1976, when they brought Frank’s parents, my mother-in-law’s grandparents for a visit. It was partly, I’m sure so that they could meet their two great great granddaughters, my girls, Corrie and Amy, but also to see the rest of the family. Living so far away, in Yakima, Washington, they didn’t get to see this part of the family very much, and Great Grandma and Grandpa were getting older. We did not know it then, but it would be the last time we saw Great Grandpa, since he would pass away the following August…just two months later. I think we all felt very grateful to Frank, his wife, Helen, and their youngest son, Richard Knox Familyfor bringing Great Grandma and Grandpa Knox to Casper for such a lovely visit.

Frank is a very intelligent man, and while his mind may not be quite as sharp as it was in his youth, he still remembers all of us and his little niece, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg. He always calls her on her birthday, and while she won’t have a phone this year, we will make sure that we get them on the phone for that very important call. And perhaps we can surprise him today with a phone call from her, because I think she probably did that too, before Alzheimer’s Disease stole the memory of the date from her. Today is Frank’s 95th birthday. Happy birthday Frank!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Toni and DaveWhenever a man marries a woman with a child, he has a decision to make. He can receive that child as his own, or he can choose to alienate that child. Whichever way he goes, he will find that it isn’t an easy job, if that child has a dad of his own already. There is a fine line between being a step-dad, and trying to replace the biological dad, and crossing the line is unacceptable. Nevertheless, if the step-dad wants to have some kind of relationship with his step-son, he has to establish the boundaries…for both their sakes. Often, the child had hoped his parents might get back together, or that his mom would never remarry…while knowing deep down that neither of these ideas were possible, or reasonable.

When my niece, Toni met her future second husband, Dave Chase, she found herself so truly happy, but she also wanted to make sure that her son, James was going to be ok with all this. In reality, she needn’t have worried about it, because while James wasn’t always receptive to Dave as a father figure, Dave would eventually win Florida triphim over. That’s the kind of guy Dave is. James couldn’t help but like him, even if he tried not to at first. It’s hard on a kid to have to accept that his parents will not get back together, but once James accepted that, he has found that his life with Toni and Dave has been a really great one. He still has the same contact with his dad, but he has been able to have some great experiences with his mom and step-dad.

Dave loves to travel, and especially to hike, and so the family has had the opportunity to visit places like Virginia Beach, Malibu, California, and Florida…all places James had never been before. They have hiked lots of places too, like the Mirror Lake Trail in the Snowy Range, near Laramie, Wyoming. And because Dave has never tried to replace his dad, James has accepted him a the great step-dad he is. All too often, if a step-dad finds that the relationship with his step-child isn’t a easy one, he simply quits trying, and that is really sad, because in all reality, none of these types of relationships are easy ones, but they are worthwhile if they work at them. I think that Dave’s easy going, fun loving personality was a big part of the reason that James warmed up to him so well. I’m sure they don’t always agree on just everything, but whenever I see them together, they are obviously getting along very well. James has his own dad, but he is also blessed with a great step-dad, who didn’t have to be so good to him, but James, Toni and Dave hikingwho chose to be so good to him. And that is a blessing indeed, because he didn’t have to be a great step-dad.

Dave is such a great fit in our entire family too. He is helpful to my sister, Cheryl Masterson, and my mom, Collene Spencer. He dearly loves his little nieces and nephews, and they love him too. Those little girls especially have their uncle wrapped around their little fingers. And that’s an ok place to be when you think about it. What could be better that to have all these little kids hanging around you and thinking you are the greatest. It just doesn’t get better than that. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Grandma Hein as we knew herI’m sure that most of you have heard that funny song by Ray Stevens called, “I’m My Own Grandpa”, and while I’m not going to tell you that I’m my own grandma, I will tell you that my husband’s Grandma Hein is my 12th cousin twice removed.  We always enjoyed both of his grandmothers, but we got to see so much less of Grandma Hein, that it was very special when we got to go see her. I only knew one of my grandmothers, and my she passed away when Bob and I had only been married eleven years. His Casper grandparents died in the 80’s too, as did his Grandpa Schulenberg in Montana. So, much of my adult life was spent having only Bob’s Montana grandparents, Grandma and Grandpa Hein, in my life.  I loved spending time with them, and we made annual trips up to visit them. We wanted our girls to know them too, so the trips were a special family time for all of us.

After so many years of knowing them, Grandma and Grandpa Hein became my own grandparents.  Little did I know then, or at any time during her lifetime, that Grandma Hein was actually my 12th cousin twice removed. When I made that connection a short time ago, I was so surprised. I’ve known for some time now that Bob and I are cousins to varying degrees, but somehow, in my mind, that didn’t officially connect to the prior ancestors. I mean, I knew it, but they didn’t feel like cousins, for some reason.  Then I started thinking about that with respect to Grandma Hein when I came across a relationship between her dad’s family and my dad’s family. Somehow, it was at this point that my mind completed wrapping itself around the idea that I was related to Grandma’s family, and it hit me that my grandma was my cousin.

I’m sure that should have hit me before too, but somehow, she was Bob’s grandma, and therefore, mine by marriage, which she technically still is, in addition to our cousinship. I really wish I had know that she was my cousin too, because I think we would have liked that relationship too. I’m sure we would have both been surprised,  and we probably would have had a good laugh too. Nevertheless, I think that we both would have liked that fact as well. We were always good friends, so being cousins too, would have been fun.

The cousinship occurred before either of us were ever born, of course. Our common ancestor is John Collamore Groundhog Daywho is my 11 great grandfather, and Grandma’s 13th great grandfather, was born in 1500 in England. The fact that we were cousins could not have been easily known at the time of my marriage to Bob. The internet didn’t exist then, and so people had to go to these places to study their lineage. Too much time and too great a cost usually stopped that unless you were very determined. Nevertheless, whether we knew it or not, we are cousins, and I’m sure we will enjoy that conversation when we see each other again in Heaven. Today would have been Grandma Hein’s 106th birthday…and, Groundhog Day, a fact that she liked. Happy birthday Cousin Grandma Hein!! And happy Groundhog Day too…not that it matters in Heaven!! We love and miss you very much!!

Apollo 1 AstronautsChallenger CrewThe NASA Space Program had suffered relatively few losses during it’s many years of existence, but when something happens, it is felt around the world. Like a plane crash, it hits everyone very hard. What I find very strange is the fact that NASA’s three tragedies that brought about loss of life, while years apart, all took place within a week’s time of each other. All three of these losses were very different in how they happened. The January 27, 1967 fire on the launch pad that took the lives of Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White II, Roger Chaffee in a routine ground test of the capsule that would later become Apollo 1 was a fire started by an electrical spark. The fire engulfed their high-pressurized, pure-oxygen cabin, and the astronauts suffocated. There was no emergency release on the door. They couldn’t get out. The Challenger, was lost on the 28th of January, 1986. It blew up during launch because an O-ring failed when the fuel tanks were stirred, killing all seven of the astronauts, and leaving the nation in mourning at the loss of Francis “Dick” Scobee, Ron McNair, Mike Smith, Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Greg Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe.

The third NASA loss took place on February 1, 2003, and this one happened on re-entry into our atmosphere. The damage that caused the demise of the Space Shuttle Columbia happened during the launch, when a piece of foam insulation broke off and damaged the leading edge of the wing. When the shuttle re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, the wind and heat entered the wing and blew it apart, because the heat-resistant tiles covering the left wing’s leading edge had been damaged or were missing. Pieces of the shuttle began raining down across Texas, as well as the bodies of the astronauts. This loss was very different than the others, in that is was a much less controlled situation. The prior losses could be cordoned off and kept out of the public view, but the way that Columbia was damaged, far above the Earth, causing it to rain down over such a large area, made it impossible to control, and consequently, people were coming across bodies and debris. I can’t imagine anything worse, because these were our beloved astronauts, and this was such an undignified end. It was heart wrenching for everyone in this nation. We will always remember Rick Husband, Willie McCool, Michael Anderson, Kalpana Chawla, David Brown, Laurel Clark and Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon.

With the end of the space shuttle portion of the NASA program, the future of our nation’s work in space seems to be in question. It is hard for me to imagine going from the Space Shuttle, with the amazing ability to land like an airplane, back to a rocket. The new Orion rocket is designed to go further that any other spacecraft, and Space Launch System rocket launching with OrionColumbia astronautsthe astronauts are used to living in space for six months at a time, so the possibilities are endless, and only time will tell. With each loss come a new wisdom and increased knowledge about the things that make our astronauts unsafe, and what things can keep them safe on their journeys into the unknown. Today, however, is a day to remember NASA’s lost ones on the twelfth anniversary of the loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia.