Monthly Archives: June 2016
After breaking my shoulder on October 18, 2015, in a fall on the Bridle Trail on Casper Mountain, I think a lot of people wondered if I would ever hike again, and if I did, if the Bridle Trail was going to be on the list of trails I liked best…or was even willing to hike on at all. I always knew that I would go on it again, but I got pretty out of shape in the months following the accident. For one thing, I found out that pain medications, make you gain weight, probably because they make you very hungry and very sleepy. And I’m sure there was a degree of depression about the injury, but I’m not one to let something get me down for very long. By January I was ready to get back into shape for hiking. My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I have loved hiking since 1995, when we first hiked Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is a love of hiking that continues to grow. I wanted to get back into it, and I wanted to hike the Bridle Trail again.
Yesterday, I returned to the Bridle Trail to pick up where I left off in October. My granddaughter, Shai Royce has been hiking with her grandpa and me this summer, and she loves it. She never considered herself an outdoor girl, but she has since changed her mind. This past weekend, we hiked the Garden Creek Trail, and she loved it so much that she decided that she wanted to hike the Bridle Trail. Sunday was out of the question, so we decided that we would go Monday evening. Anyone who has ever hiked the Bridle Trail knows that the first half hour is the toughest. Nevertheless, while we had to stop to rest and catch our breath, we had a wonderful time. Shai thoroughly enjoyed it, and wants to go again, so we are making plans for several hikes before she moves to Washington in July.
For me, the hike was a victory in several ways. I can’t say that I didn’t get winded, but that is not unusual for me, and I hope to get my lungs in better shape for the hills in the future, but I did well with the hike, and there
was no fear about the trail. We even went the same way we had gone when I fell, because I guess I felt like I needed to just get back on the horse that bucked me off, so that I could fully conquer the giant that could have formed in my life. The sooner you get back on that horse, the less chance fear has to take hold. I can now honestly say that since my return to the Bridle Trail…any concern that I might be afraid is totally gone, and I very much look forward to our next hike, and each subsequent hike on the Bridle Trail or any other trail. t was a lovely evening, and I still love hiking!!
The length of women’s skirts have varied over the years, and I happen to know that when the mini-skirt came out while I was in junior high school, my mom hated it. She never wanted her girls to wear them, nor did the other parents…so, many of the girls wore skirts rather than dresses, because skirts could be rolled up to make them shorter. It was a selling point for the skirt. I’m sure that if our mothers had known, we would have been in trouble, but that didn’t seem to matter. Of course, as style trends changed, my mom got used to the trends, and my younger sisters were allowed to wear mini-dresses too. I had a tendency to think that was really unfair, but I suppose I was the trailblazer that won them the right to wear those shorter dresses. I think my little sisters should thank me for that, don’t you?
These trends have run their course over many generations, and the other day I was looking at some old pictures from my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer’s album. There was a picture there that I can’t quite figure out, but one thing that jumps out at me is the older woman wearing a long dress, and the younger woman next to her in a dress that is just above her knees. The older woman in the picture doesn’t seem pleased with the younger woman. Of course, that could just be my perception of the situation, and not the reality of the situation. Still, I think that the women who started wearing those short skirts back then, were probably looked at as being loose…at least until they got used to the new trend.
I think that while my mom didn’t maybe look at me as being loose for wanting to wear short skirts, she probably thought of me as misguided. Nevertheless, when the trend became the normal, my sisters, and yes, me too, were allowed to wear those shorter skirts. I have to say that I still think that the skirt that hits me above the knees is one of the best looks for me, but maybe that’s just my opinion. Women who are vertically challenged, as I am, can look dumpy in the longer skirts, unless the skirt is cut just right. There again, that could just be my own opinion…or maybe I’m still a trendsetter.
Father’s Day is a little harder for me these days, because both my dad, Allen Spencer and my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg are in Heaven now. I think in many ways, my mind, in an effort to protect me from sad feelings, simply refuses to wrap itself around the coming day, and then suddenly the night before, I realize that there are three other dads in my life. While they are not my dads, they are my children’s dad, and my grandchildren’s dads. And they are good dads…every one of them. When I look at the job they did being dads to those kids, each one staying with the family through the good and the bad times, I realize just how very blessed my children, grandchildren, and I have been. In our families, and in the families that Bob and I grew up in, there were no absentee dads and no deadbeat dads, there was simply Dad…the man who was always there for us…not matter what we needed, no matter what mistakes we made, and no matter how messed up we were at times in our lives. When they signed on as dads, they meant it. They signed on for life, and they made our lives wonderful in every way. Sometimes, I wonder just what I did to deserve such a great blessing, and then I remember that blessings are very seldom deserved…they are a gift. Every day, and in every way, these men in my life are such a great blessing to me and to my family.
While my dad and my father-in-law are in Heaven now, I can honestly say that the lessons they both taught each of us…their children, children-in-law, grandchildren, and great grandchildren are lessons that will guide us skillfully through the trying times that every life must go through. Of course, I wish they were still here, because the longer I live on this Earth, the more questions I seem to have. My questions about how to handle things in life have largely been answered now, because they were good dads, but my questions about the past have not. Questions about the war, grandparents, great grandparents, and family history are still out there, many of them completely unanswered, and I have no way to get them answered now. There are so many stories I haven’t heard, and so much information I don’t have…and now I have no way to ever find out. I think about how much I miss them now, and it makes my heart sad.
For the rest of the dads in my life, today is a day to celebrate, and to be thankful that we have them in our lives. I am thankful for each of these men, because they have been wonderful dads. They have passed on to their children, all the wisdom, knowledge, and common sense that they have, along with the humor needed to get through any life. Their laughter has enriched our lives so much. If we can give back even a fraction of the blessing they have given to us, then we have accomplished great things. Happy Father’s Day to the dads in my life. I hope you all have a wonderful day.
A couple of weeks ago, a baby bird fell out of it’s nest into our front yard. Our neighbor Mary Sanchez saw it first, and was careful not to disturb it when she mowed her lawn. The next day, when Bob and I came home and parked out front, we heard a commotion. I walked toward the hedge that separates our yard from Mary’s, and was surprised to see a squawking baby crow standing in the grass. It’s mom was nearby, warning me to stay away from her baby, so we backed away and left the situation alone. We weren’t sure if the mom was taking care of her baby, or what, so we watched closely. Very soon, there was no doubt that she was a good mom, and in fact there was also a good dad in this situation. A few days went by, and while we worried about cats, this little baby bird continued to thrive…miraculously.
The day did come when we were forced to intervene. Our little baby bird decided to go and stand in the middle of the street…and it was a hot day. We debated on what to do about this situation, and determined that if we didn’t move it, a car was going to hit it, or the hot asphalt would kill it. So my brave husband donned a pair of gloves, picked the bird up, and moved it back toward our back yard…dodging the dive bomb attempts of the mother. All we could do then was stay away and hope the parents continued their great care of their baby. The baby continued to get bigger, and the parents were always around, so we decided that our bird rescue had been successful.
Of course, like all children, the day came when our little bird again decided to go into the street, and so began bird rescue take 2. Once again dodging the dive bombs of the mom, Bob picked up the bird and put it back near our back fence. That turned out to be to best plan, because the bird decided to check out the back yard, and we began to worry less. The baby has stayed in the back yard, and out of trouble for the most part. We had to chase off a cat twice, and now the parents are a little bit more tolerant of us…at least when the cat shows up. In fact, I think she likes us then.
I have had the opportunity to get some great close up photos of the baby, and finally today, I was treated to the chance to observe lunchtime. Flying lessons have begun, but this is a big baby, and it’s wings aren’t long enough yet. Nevertheless, it’s parents know that it needs to build up its muscles so that when its wings catch up with its body, it will be able to fly. This has been a wonderful things to watch, and while we know that our little baby is still not out of danger, we have high hopes for it. One thing I can say for sure, this job of raising baby at 60+ years old is a lot to take on. I know now, why we all have kids when we are young.
My grandpa, George Byer served in the Army as a cook during World War I. He always prided himself on making sure the men had the best meals he was able to make. Wartime doesn’t always mean that the men have the tastiest of meals. In fact, the meals are pretty basic most of the time. Even in this day and age, the men in a war zone often have MREs…which is Meals Ready to Eat. They are basically dried food. They can be eaten as they are, because its not always convenient to heat them. The idea is to create a meal to keep our troops running strong out in the field. They are packed full of calories and nutrients. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they are packed full of taste.
Still, when I look back at my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher Hallgren’s journal, when she spoke of the food the men had to eat during the Civil War, I have to feel awful for those brave men. She spoke of Hardtack, which was served to both armies. It was basically a thick cracker, that they could carry with them. Because of the lack of preservatives in those days, Hardtack was often wormy. It was so wormy, in fact, that the men called them Worm Castles. Hardtack was so hard that the men joked…if you bite into something soft, you might think it’s a worm, but it’s probably a ten penny nail…now that is a hard cracker. When I think of our brave men having to eat such food, it makes me feel nauseous. These are the people that we sent out to fight our battles, while we are safe at home, and here they are eating such awful things. Still, it was what they had, that and dried or salted meats.
I suppose they got used to the food, but I still think that is was sad that we as a people were not able to give them food that was safe to eat. I have to think back on the MREs, and while they might not taste great, at least they don’t have worms. And I have to wonder what Aunt Bertha would have thought of the MRE. She had seen so many awful foods that the men had to eat, but to think of them eating something that was dried…well, that would be just strange. Maybe the MREs weren’t the tastiest meals, but at least they were safe to eat, and many a soldier has survived on them for sure. I guess that sometimes you just have to do what you have to do.
One hundred and twenty three years ago yesterday, my grandfather, George Byer was born. His life would take many twists and turns. It would span two world wars, as well as other wars. He would live during two different centuries. He would see the transition from wagons to cars, and also the transition to airplanes. He would marry the love of his life, Hattie Pattan on Christmas Eve, and I think he always felt like she was the best Christmas present he ever received. He loved her so much. She and his family were the top priority to him. Grandpa loved kids, and they wanted a large family. They had nine children.
My best memories of Grandpa are of his gentle ways. He always called us kid. It was never meant in a generalizing way, it was his way of being endearing, and you always knew that. You always knew that Grandpa loved being a grandpa. He loved spending time around his grandkids. I remember him stopping by our house. My sisters and I were so excited to see him. He was fun to play games with, and never made us feel like we were in the way. He just loved kids, especially his grandkids.
As his life was coming to a close, there were times that he didn’t remember who we were. It’s strange when your grandfather recognizes your husband before he does you. That was what happened though, he thought I was the nurse, but he knew my husband’s name. It was because of a trip we took him on. Bob was so good with Grandpa’s worries. He explained the map and showed Grandpa where we were and where we were going, on a trip we took to take them to Cascade, Idaho, where they had family. It was a trip that apparently meant a lot to Grandpa, and he was grateful to Bob for putting his mind at ease, in those later years. Yes, Grandpa’s life took many twists and turns, but I seriously doubt if he would have changed a thing. It was his life, and he loved it. It’s hard to believe that grandpa would have been 123 years old yesterday. I know you had a wonderful day Grandpa. We love you and miss you very much.
I know that lots of people have been in long distance relationships, but I don’t know of a lot of people, aside from soldiers and their families, who have been in one that is quite as distant as my grand nephew, James Renville, and his girlfriend, Julia Vergnes. James lives here in Casper, Wyoming, and met Julia while she was an exchange student at Kelly Walsh High School. They began dating in January of 2015, and their relationship has continued even though she is back home in Heemstede, North Holland, Netherlands, which is near the capital city of Amsterdam. I can’t imagine how hard it is for them to be so far apart, both of them going to college, trying to concentrate on their studies, and yet missing each other so much. The short visits they have had to each others homes must have seemed way too short a time, but it is what they have. Time will tell where their futures will take them from here. Time and distance can take their toll, or they can solidify a relationship. Time will tell.
I never would have expected James to become a world traveler, but life takes us all in different directions. As he did last year, James will travel to Amsterdam in July to visit Julia. I think that it’s a very cool thing that he gets to make the trip. The Netherlands is a beautiful country, but I don’t know how much James cares about the scenery. Because he has been there with Julia, he has had the opportunity to make a lot of new friends there as well. I’m sure the adventure of traveling is a big draw for James too.
James is such a personable guy, and has a really kind heart. He has always been one person all the little kids love to hang out with, or just hang on. He is a good older cousin, and he makes them feel important. That is what is important when it comes to little kids. Kids don’t like to always be treated…well, like little kids, and James gets that, so they like him. James hasn’t totally decided what he wants to do with his life yet, so at this point he is taking the reqired courses at college. Whatever he decides to do, I know he will be successful at it…no matter where his dreams take him. Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When I think about the fact that my nephew, Garrett Stevens is 26 years old today, and getting married soon, I find it hard to believe. It just doesn’t seem possible that he is not still the silly little boy he was, not so long ago. Being the only boy in a family of three kids, I’m quite certain that he did his share of teasing his sisters, but that never seemed to matter Michelle and Lacey both thought their brother was just the greatest. In fact, it would be Lacey who would introduce Garrett to his future wife, Kayla Smiley, and the rest of that story is, as they say, history. They fell in love, and the wedding is coming up fast. Nevertheless, Garrett could get into mischief, and did…on a regular basis. It was just the kind that was too cute to get mad about.
Garrett is like his grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer in so many ways. I often see Dad in the things he does, and the way he is. One of the big ways is when he is playing with the little kids. So many people are just too adult to get in there and really play with the kids, but not Garrett. He doesn’t mind all the rough and tumble ways of kids, and he doesn’t require them to be quiet and sit down…like they were in school. My dad was that way. He would get the little kids going, and the loud laughter and excited screams would soon follow, almost to the point of driving my mom crazy. She would beg him to stop it, but the kids were having so much fun that she finally just gave in. I see that quality in Garrett, and I know that when he and Kayla have kids…well, Kayla, you have been warned. Your house will be noisy…but then, that’s a good thing. A home filled with laughter is a huge blessing. Garrett also loves camping and fishing, as does Kayla, so they will be a great team. In fact, the Stevens family all love the lake and camping out, and go every year around the 4th of July.
Garrett took up the same profession as his grandpa too…welding, and he is very good at it. Like his grandpa, Garrett is a Broncos fan, as am I, and that makes him ok in my book. He’s got his team priorities straight, and that’s important. He also likes the Colorado Rockies. I knew there was a reason I liked this kid. He’s got it together. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My Aunt Virginia Beadle, my mom’s second to the oldest sister, was born in 1930 in the middle of the worst depression in United States history. Unemployment had increased from 1.3 million in October 1929 to 3.2 million by March 1930. Money was scarce, and people had to make due with what they had. Of course, like any parent knows, children don’t wait until you can afford them, and in those days people had large families. My Aunt Virginia was the second of nine children born to her parents, George and Hattie Byer. Like most families, the children can have very different features, while still looking very much like brothers and sisters. Such was the case for my aunts and uncles. They all looked different, and yet very much like siblings.
Some of my aunts were tall…or at least to me they were. Their dad, was over six feet tall, so it stands to reason that some of the girls would inherit his height, or at least a little of it. My mom was 5’6″ and some of her sisters were taller, but Aunt Virginia wasn’t one of those. She took after her mother in height. My grandmother was 5 feet tall in her tall days, and I would guess that Aunt Virginia was no more than 5’2″ tall. I think though, that the thing that always stood out to me about Aunt Virginia was her dark hair. I always felt like it must look like shining black silk. Some of my mom’s siblings were blondes and some brunettes…some even dark brunette, but I think Aunt Virginia’s hair was the darkest, and it gave her an exotic look in my mind.
These days, my Aunt Virginia is even smaller than she was before. When I saw her at the cemetery on Memorial Day, at my parents graves where she and her sister, my Aunt Sandy Pattan were coming to add their decorations to ours on my parents graves, it occurred to me just what a tiny woman she is. I am only 5’2″, but I felt so tall next to her. Still, there was enough love inside her to fill up a much bigger person than she was. The love overflows, Aunt Virginia, as it does all of my aunts and uncles. Maybe that is what makes them all seem so much alike. Today is my Aunt Virginia’s 86th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Virginia!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!
I think everyone deals with the realities of war differently. Many people barely think about it, mostly because they don’t know anyone involved, and do they can move it to the back of their minds, except for the news anyway. Others feel sadness for those lost and for their families, but that is as far as it goes. Those who have a loved one in the service, know the risks, of course, and their feelings about their loved one being in harm’s way are very evident. Some feel the need to talk about it, while others simply can’t talk about if at all. My cousin, Shirley Cameron deals with war is in a bit different way. She can’t sit idly by, and not do her part for the war effort. I guess that is a little bit of her mother in her.
Shirley has spent countless amounts of money to send care packages to the troops, does everything she can to make their time in the war zones, away from their families, be at least a little bit more pleasant. It is so hard to be far away from loved ones, overworked and underpaid, never knowing it you will survive the day…if you will ever see your family again. When that is the position in which a soldier finds himself, it is so nice to know that there are people out there who care about you…even if they don’t even know you. People who take time out of their day and money out of their pocket to make a difference. That’s where Shirley and others like her come in. Without her and people like her, our soldiers could easily think that no one really cares, but with her in their corner, they know that somebody cares, and that can make all the difference.
Shirley is a true patriot. She knows what it is like to have a loved one in the service, because her dad, brother, and son have all served. Thankfully, her loved ones came back from their wars, but Shirley cannot forget that so many soldiers did not. These days, she keeps a journal with the names of the fallen, the dates, branch of service, and any other pertinent information in it. She often posts about them on Facebook…their pictures and her own sweet words spoken over these men. Who does that? Not very many people, that’s for sure. Her patriotic actions have touched me deeply, and I’m sure I’m not the only one either. Today is Shirley’s birthday. Happy birthday Shirley!! You are a good woman and a great patriot, and we are proud of you. Have a great day!! We love you!!