Monthly Archives: July 2016

Sawdon-web-bannerThere are people in this world who achieve great things, and then they are so humble about it that they tell almost no one. That seems to be the case with my nephew, Jason Sawdon. Jason, who is married to my niece, Jessi Hadlock Sawdon is a trooper with the Wyoming Highway Patrol. He is part of the accident investigations team, but he patrols as well. Apparently, he is pretty secretive too, or else I was somehow left out of the family loop. On June 24th, 2016, the Wyoming Highway Patrol Association Awards Banquet was held near Dayton, Wyoming. The banquet is to recognize members of the patrol for individual and group achievements and actions in the prior year. The awards at this banquet were for 2015.

The WHP District Captains were given the task of reviewing and evaluating the performance of their respective employees and then asked to nominate a Trooper to be considered for the “Trooper of the Year” award. They were asked to look at leadership qualities, the Trooper’s activities, the Trooper’s professionalism during the performance of his or her duties, the Trooper’s reputation within the agency, the public’s perception of the Trooper and how well the Trooper reflects the eight core values of the Wyoming Highway Patrol. My nephew, Jason was nominated for the award, and then declared the winner!!

Now, I was looking for some other information on the Wyoming Highway Patrol website, when Jason’s face suddenly appeared on a scrolling banner. I quickly went back to that page, and was shocked to see that he had been awarded the “Trooper of the Year” award for 2015. I had no idea why we all weren’t told…or if I was just hiding under a rock…but somehow, I didn’t know it. Not telling everyone would be completely typical of Jason, so I guess it was a secret award. Well, Jason, the cat is out of the bag now, because, I am so proud of your accomplishments, that I feel the need to shout it from the rooftops…or at least write about it in my blog.

Jason’s district captain gave him a glowing nomination. I thought you might all like to hear part of what he had to say, so here is an excerpt. “This Trooper views their position as a State Trooper as a position of a true public servant. They maintain a positive outlook, even through difficult situations, and are a credit to the agency. They maintain a strong work ethic and contribute in a wide variety of activities. This Trooper has initiated public speaking and safety events within their division, they set a positive example for their peers, and actively strives to increase highway safety. They actively seek ways to help the division meet goals by voluntarily adjusting their shift in order to provide enforcement during times and areas of concern. Not only is this Trooper productive in terms of quantity, their quality is surpassed by none. They strive to always “do the right thing for the right reason.” They successfully and aggressively enforce state statute while maintaining the respect of the community they strive to protect and serve; as well as the respect of all who know and work with them. They remain actively involved in teaching and participating in academy classes and regularly pushes themselves and their peers toward success. This Trooper demonstrates great courage, humility, and maturity as they fulfill their WHP SUVobligations. They are a strong example of a Wyoming Highway Patrol Trooper, in their actions, appearance, values, and character. They are a leader amongst their peers and a great asset to the division, the district, and the Patrol.”

I am so proud of the accomplishments of our family’s own Wyoming Highway Patrol “Trooper of the Year” for 2015, Trooper Jason Sawdon. Congratulations Jason!! We are so happy for you. You are an asset to the WHP and to law enforcement in general, and a wonderful asset to this family. Next time…don’t be so modest. You deserve the praise!!

imageYou can think you are prepared for life’s changes, but until the exact moment they happen, you don’t really know. When my daughter, Amy Royce, her husband Travis, and son, Caalab moved to Washington state a year ago, I thought I would never get used to it, over it, or on with it, but time marches on, and I had no choice but to march along with it. Amy and Travis’ daughter, Shai stayed here in Casper, and I think it helped that I felt the need to try to lift her spirit and help her make the transition from being a kid living at home to an adult living in her own place. It was such a hard change for both of us. Memories of Amy, Travis, and Caalab were everywhere, but for me, especially Amy, since we worked together. I think that the hardest part with Amy’s move was the empty chairs at the office, church, and Saturday morning breakfast. It will be no different this time, since Shai worked with me too. Now I have that empty chair at the office, church, and Saturday morning breakfast…again.

I have always been close with all my children and grandchildren, so as each one spreads their wings and flies imageaway, I find myself tearing up, as I look at their empty places and think about the length of time before I will see them again. For Shai, I know it is for the best. She has missed her family terribly, and while her grandparents might play a close second, we just aren’t her parents and brother. That isn’t a bad thing, because I know how much she loves us. It’s just impossible to replace your own family. Shai and Caalab have not always been good friends, but as the grew, they became very close, and I think this last year has been extremely hard on both of them. And she is very close to her parents, as well. My logical side is really very happy for her to be rejoining them, it’s just my emotional side that can’t seem to wrap itself around the logic, and every time I see a place where Shai used to be, I feel lonely all over again.

When I came home at lunch I thought about the last few days. Caalab flew in on July 8th, and with both of their things here at my house, we had quite a disaster area going. Now all their things are gone, and the house imageseems very empty and very quiet. Of course, Bob isn’t here either, since he went with the kids to help with the move. Still, I think it will feel a little empty even when he gets home. It’s not because Shai lived with us, because she didn’t, but she moved out of her apartment on June 30th, and so for eleven days, her things were here. Now, after a whirlwind visit for Caalab, and the date of their departure coming up far too fast, I find myself facing that empty chair…again. I know I’ll be ok, because I’ve been through this before, but that empty chair will be a stumbling block for a while yet, no matter how I feel about it, or how much I try to avoid looking at it. Shai…I know that your life will be wonderful, just don’t forget where your grandpa and grandma live, and remember that we love you more than words can ever say.

Uncle Larry and Aunt JeanetteMy Aunt Jeanette Byer was friends with my mom and her sisters and brothers for a long time before she and my Uncle Larry Byer fell in love. In those days, I thing is was much more common for spouses to know each other for much of their lives. In many ways, I think that is very cool. Growing up friends first can make for a long lasting marriage. I think that is exactly what my aunt and uncle were…friends. They liked being together, sharing the hopes and dreams they had for their lives, and going places together. For many years they live on a piece of land east of Casper, and Uncle Larry worked at the Texaco Refinery. They raised their two children there…my cousins, Larry and Tina. Then, everything changed.

CCI06282012_00027_editedbTheir kids were grown and married, of course, but when it came down to a transfer to Louisiana, or being laid off, Uncle Larry had to take the transfer. He was too close to retirement age to lose it all. So for the next few years, they lived in Louisiana. It was quite a change of climate for them. Having lived in Wyoming for all of their lives, the high humidity of Louisiana was a shock to their systems. In fact, Aunt Jeanette once told my mom that while it seemed hard to breathe, it was something you got used to after a time. I suppose that is true, but getting used to it didn’t stop them from wanting to come back to Wyoming as soon as Uncle Larry retired.

Of course, their family was here, so it makes perfect sense to me. Wanting to be around family is one of the Grandma Byer and Aunt Jeanettemost important things their is. It can’t always be that families stay together, but when it is possibly, I think that most parents would do the best they could to get that family back together, and when they can’t, then the visits are the most important thing they can do instead. There were a number of visits both ways, with their kids, and with other family members. My mom, dad, and sisters went down for a visit, and had a great time. I also know that Grandma Byer, went down for a visit, and had a great time too. Still, it wasn’t the same, and as soon as they could, Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry headed home to their family, and we are all gad they did Today in Aunt Jeanette’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Bob at about 16Few birthdays mark such a big change in one’s life as this one will for my husband, Bob Schulenberg. Bob had planned to retire in January of 2017, but with the offer of a severance package through the City of Casper, where he has worked since May of 1989, due to the economic downturn, Bob retired on July 1st. It was like icing on the cake, and we couldn’t turn it down. That means that since he was 17 years old, this is the first birthday Bob will spend without a job. That is such a foreign thought to him…and to me. Bob is a hard working man, who has a lot of trouble sitting still…probably for working so hard for so many years, so I doubt he will do much of that. Besides, there are people who have been waiting for him to retire, so he can work on their cars. Hmmm, does that sound like much will change with him? I don’t really think so. In fact, I think that the only thing that will be likely to change, is the stress of an 8:00 to 4:30 job…with a boss. I think that the “B” word is one word Bob is totally ready to imageremove from his vocabulary…and I’m ready for him to be able to remove that word too. One of the things we are looking forward to is more free time to walk and hike, because we both like that. Of course, since I am still working, most of that will be around Casper for now.

Bob has a few other plans in mind to occupy his time, like finally getting his garage organized and putting in a storage shed to house the things that really won’t fit in the garage now that it will be a shop, and not just a place to park the cars most of the time. That’s all fine with me, as long as he leaves me an open stall to park my car in, because after all, my car lives there and the cars he is working on don’t. I can see him hanging out at the parts house, talking to the guys, because most of the time he doesn’t have much time for visiting when he goes in there. And of course, there will be the morning breakfasts with the other retirees…you know, that exclusive club that can go have breakfast at 9:00 if they want to, because after all, they don’t have to got to Bobwork. I guess you can see why I am going to have to keep him walking and hiking…yes, it’s so he doesn’t get fat from all that sitting around.

Oh, I tease Bob about sitting around doing nothing, but that simply isn’t Bob’s style. He will probably watch a little more television, but my guess is that it won’t be very much or very often. He has better things to do than to sit around wasting away. For Bob, retirement means the freedom to get out and do things, without having to stop and go to work, and I am very happy for him. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Honey!! Have a great day!! We love you, and we are all very happy for you!!

Sweet MarlyceMarlyce holding BarryAfter 27 years, one might think that I would be used to the fact that my sister-in-law, Marlyce Schulenberg is no longer with us, but somehow, I’m not. Oh, I suppose that most of the time my mind has accepted that fact, but…well, Marlyce was such a unique person. She was special in every way. She had a heart of gold, and she loved everyone. That didn’t mean that she didn’t have a temper at all, but then, I think that when she got mad…at least at her siblings, it was because they teased her…or picked a fight with her. I suppose it was a kid thing or a sibling thing, but whatever it was, it drove Marlyce crazy sometimes. And every time Marlyce got mad at her siblings, they were moved to try it again. I suppose that’s just how kids are.

Marlyce’s life was cut short at the tender age of just 39 years, when cancer took her life away from her. Gone were that precious moments we all had with my sweet sister-in-law. It was so hard to believe. She was only 39 years old, younger than my own children are now, and yet she was gone. No more of her smiling face telling me that she had made my favorite chocolate chip cookies, or showing me the latest things she had knitted. Her giggle was now silent. That was 27 years ago, and yet, I can still hear her voice…filled with excitement about those cookies, and I can still hear her annoyed voice telling her littlest brother, Ron to stop picking on her.

It’s strange that the voices of the past still exist in our minds to the degree that it almost seems like we are still Beautiful MarlyceAmy with Marlycehearing them out loud. Harder for me to believe than the fact that Marlyce has been gone for 27 years, is the fact that she would have been 66 years old today. She was the oldest child, and with her passing there was a hole left in our lives. Because Marlyce was a special needs child, my in-laws were always concerned about what would happen to her if they passed away. Of course, we would have take care of her, but they needn’t have worried, because she preceded both of them. Today would have been Marlyce’s 66th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Marlyce. We love and miss you very much.

34096_1324342636193_275594_naMy brother-in-law, Chris Hadlock has had a long and successful career in law enforcement. As a young married man, Chris was working in sales, which as most of us know, is a career that some like and some don’t. Chris was good at it, but the career was not a fulfilling one for him. While they were living in Fort Morgan, Colorado, Chris told my sister, Allyn that he really wasn’t happy doing what he was doing, and simply couldn’t see himself doing it for a long term career. She asked him what he thought he wanted to do, and he told her that while he didn’t think he could be a doctor, he wanted a career in which he could help people. He wanted to be a police officer. I think that prospect really scared my sister at first, and after going on a few ride alongs with my brother-in-law, in which it looked like he might have to pull his gun on someone, I can understand why that could bother my sister. Nevertheless, my brother-in-law was a very capable patrol officer, and with his tall 6’4″ stature, the perpetrators seldom felt inclined to try to go up against him. While some of the shorter officers had to struggle to apprehend a perpetrator, Chris would walk up, and the guy would take one look at him and surrender.

Of course, his height was not the only reason that Chris had no trouble apprehending a suspect, however. He imagehas a very calming nature. Whether he is doing police work, or just calming jangled nerves in a stressful situation, Chris has the unique ability to de-escalate a situation. He has done so on many occasions, both in and out of police work. One occasion I specifically recall was when he went to arrest a man, and when the man opened the door to Chris’ knock, and saw that it was a cop, he tried to shut the door again. Chris simply stuck his Billy Club in the door, and calmly said, you don’t want to do this. The man calmed down, and agreed to go with Chris. He then asked if he could make a phone call first, and because he was cooperative, Chris allowed it, knowing that he would also be allowed a second phone call at the jail. He didn’t have to allow the man to do that, but the arrest went very smoothly and I believe that the main reason is because Chris worked with the man and kept him calm. I also had the opportunity to see police officers who wouldn’t work with a perpetrator, and the whole situation blew up. It’s all in how the officer handles the situation.

imageThese days, with so much turmoil surrounding our police officers, much of which is not their fault, and yet any arrests are looked at as Police Brutality, my brother-in-law is a police officer who brings peace, a sense of calm, and yet justice. Chris has advanced in his career from a Deputy Sheriff, to a City Patrolman, a Sergeant, and now a Lieutenant over the detectives. He has been a training officer, and a hiring officer, and now he is spending several weeks out of this summer a “Leadership in Policing” class. Chris has been an asset to both of the departments he has served in. He is a born leader and we are very proud of him. Today is Chris’ birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Liberty BellEveryone has heard of the Liberty Bell. The bell was ordered in 1751, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Pennsylvania’s original constitution. The Pennsylvania Provincial Assembly ordered the 2,000 pound copper and tin bell. The bell was placed in the Pennsylvania State House, which is now known as Independence Hall. The bell rang out summoning citizens to the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence, by Colonel John Nixon. The document was adopted by delegates to the Continental Congress meeting in the State House on July 4th, however, the Liberty Bell, inscribed with the Biblical quotation, “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land unto All the Inhabitants Thereof,” was not rung until the Declaration of Independence was returned from the printer on July 8th.

The bell was made of inferior materials, and cracked during the first test. It was recast twice and finally hung from the State House steeple in June 1753. The bell was rung on special occasions, such as when King George III ascended to the throne in 1761, and to call the people together to discuss such important things as the controversial Stamp Act of 1765. With the outbreak of the American Revolution in April 1775, the bell was rung to announce the battles of Lexington and Concord. Of course, the most famous time it was rung was July 8, 1776, when it summoned Philadelphia citizens for the first reading of the Declaration of Independence.

When the British were advancing on Philadelphia in the fall of 1777, the bell was removed and hidden in Allentown to protect it from being melted down by the British to be used for cannons. Following the defeat of the British in 1781, the bell was returned to it’s place in Philadelphia which was the nation’s capital from 1790 to 1800. In addition to marking important events, the bell was used as a part of the celebrations such as George Washington’s birthday on February 22, and Independence Day on July 4. In 1839, bell was first given it’s name when it was coined the Liberty Bell in a poem.

As to the crack that finally made the Liberty Bell unsuitable for ringing, there has been some dispute. It was The_Bell's_First_Note_by_JLG_Ferrisfinally agreed upon that the bell suffered a major break while tolling for the funeral of the chief justice of the United States, John Marshall, in 1835, and in 1846 the crack expanded to its present size while in use to mark Washington’s birthday. After that date, it was decided that the bell was unsuitable for ringing, but it was still ceremoniously tapped on occasion to commemorate important events. On June 6, 1944, when Allied forces invaded France, the sound of the bell’s dulled ring was broadcast by radio across the United States. In 1976, the Liberty Bell was moved to a new pavilion about 100 yards from Independence Hall in preparation for America’s bicentennial celebrations. The Liberty Bell will always be a symbol of patriotism and liberty in my mind.

imageKids follow a typical pattern in the things they do, but that in no way makes kids the same. Some kids are too busy with their own things to take much notice of the aunts and uncles around them, while others, like my grand niece, Audrianna Masterson, always make an effort to come and say hello, followed by a hug, of course. Anna, as she has been nicknamed, is a very gentle soul, with a loving spirit. Whenever I am around her, usually at least twice a week, she just warms my heart with her gentle, loving ways.

Anna loves to read, and is spending much of this summer in a reading contest to see how many books she can read. So far she has won a t-shirt for her efforts, and she was so proud of it, that she had to make sure I saw it. Anna really loves learning in general. During the school year, when I see her, she like to sit with me and do her homework. Then she has imageme check it for her. I don’t really think it’s the homework help she is after, but rather the time she and I can spend together.

Don’t get me wrong, because Anna love to play too. She doesn’t care if the kids are older, like her cousins, Xander, Zach, and Isaac Spethman, or her brother Matthew Masterson, or her little cousin Aleesia Spethman, who is just three, and even her cousin, Shai Royce, who is twenty. She also likes hanging out with her big sister, Raelynn Masterson, when she has time for her that is. Raelynn is in middle school now, so that is a bit limited, nevertheless, Anna looks up to her big sister.

Anna may not be in the double digit age group yet, but she is coming into her own, nevertheless. I see her personality coming out more and more. Anna is not a drama queen or a princess. That just isn’t her style. She imageis a good girl who loves to help others, especially her parents. Anna is also a lot like her Great Aunt Caryn in that she is a deep thinker. She reasons things out in her own mind. She concentrates on the task at hand, or just on the thoughts running through her own head. Being a thinker and a concentrator can make people wonder about you. Some might think you are mad or that you are stand offish, when what you really are is deep in your own world of thoughts. Some people may not get that, but I get it, Anna, because you remind me of me…and I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. Maybe you will be a writer too, telling others about your own thoughts, memories, and family. Today is Anna’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Anna!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Valintine McGillycuddyIn my many hikes to the Harney Peak lookout, I have noticed many times the marker there for Dr Valentine McGillycuddy. I suppose that the main reason it has stuck in my head is because of my grandfather, George Byer, who used to call our house and ask for Mrs McGillycuddy. We always knew it was Grandpa, but we went along with the joke anyway. Of course, Grandpa’s Mrs McGillycuddy was fictional, while Valentine McGillycuddy was a real person. I did some research a few years ago, and found out that Valentine McGillycuddy was the first white man to climb all the way to the top of Harney Peak. Many have followed in his footsteps, myself and my husband included. Harney Peak, so named in the late 1850s by Lieutenant Gouverneur K. Warren in honor of General William S. Harney, who was commander of the military in the Black Hills area. The Lakota Sioux Indians called it Hinhan Kaga, which means “Making of Owls” in English. I think I like that name.

Dr McGillycuddy first came to the Black Hills with the Jenny-Newton Party. His mission was to survey and map 20081130131033_swordmcgillyValentine McGillycuddy memorialthe Black Hills, and to confirm that gold had been discovered there. It was during this excursion that he climbed Harney Peak. There had been other white men to climb the mountain, including General George Custer, but they all stopped just short of the peak, because it was to difficult to make it…something I think I can relate to. McGillycuddy angled a felled tree into a crevice in the granite, and made his way to the very top. I can totally feel his elation and sense of accomplishment, since I have felt the same way myself. My guess is that it would not be the last trip he made to the top either. That mountain has a way of calling you back for a second and even third or more visits.

McGillycuddy became a friend to Crazy Horse, and in fact was with him when he died after being stabbed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska in 1877. After that time, the Lakota Sioux named McGillycuddy Tasunka Witko Kola, 220px-Valentine_McGillycuddywhich means “Crazy Horse’s Friend” in English. Other Native Americans named McGillycuddy Wasicu Wakan, which means “Holy White Man” in English. Dr Valentine McGillycuddy did lead a very amazing life. His first wife died, and he moved to San Francisco to continue his medical practice. There he married Julia Blanchard. After he passed away in 1939, Julia wrote a book about his life called “McGillycuddy, Agent” which was how he signed his name during his favorite role in life. He was a friend to the Indians, and did his best to educate them by building a school for the children. He was a calming influence on the relationship between the Indians and the White Man. It is quite fitting then that his ashes be entombed on the mountain that he loved. It gives a totally different feeling to the little plaque that is there…if one researches it.

imageimageTwo years ago, my husband, Bob and I intended to take our favorite hike…Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota. That hike didn’t go so well, or at least we did not succeed in completing the full hike. The Lookout Tower eluded us in that, we reached it’s base, but could not go on to the top. The reasons were varied, but I felt like the main reason was that I was not in good enough shape for this tough trail. Bob thought otherwise, and looking back, I have to think that, at least in part, he was right. Bob thought that the heat of the day, combined with the lack of trees near the top since the pine beetle infestation, sapped our energy making it almost impossible to finish the hike. We had plenty of water, and food too, just no more energy…and we still had the 3.4 mile hike back staring us in the face.

After that hike, I wondered if I would be able to get myself back in shape for the next attempt. It was a low point in my hiking career. Six months ago, I made the decision that it was time to get back in shape, and to go after the Giant that had been looming over me for a year and a half. I started walking again and eating right, and before long I was doggedly walking 30,000 steps every day. Then shin splints hit me like a bomb. I was determined to continue walking so my training wouldn’t suffer, but after three weeks, I knew that I was going to have to do something different. Nevertheless, I tried to keep going, until my granddaughter, Shai Royce made me promise to take the next week off. Thankfully a week was all it took, and I was back to walking 25000 steps a day in a couple of weeks.

Still, the Giant loomed over me for the next month. Our trip was coming, and I wanted that mountain. The Harney Peak hike belonged to me. I have hiked it at least fifteen times over the last 21 years. I had imageimagepaid my dues, and I did not want to let one bad experience take it away from me. We decided to head out to hike early…6:00am or so. In reality, we began our hike 6:37am, and with the light cloud cover and the earliness of our hiking time, we were very comfortable. The hike was hard…it always is, but in two and a half hours, we found ourselves at the top standing in front of the lookout tower. We made it!! We had conquered the beast. The Giant no longer loomed over me. I know that there is no reason that I can’t continue to hike Harney Peak for years to come, because with hard work…there is nothing I can’t do.

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