Monthly Archives: August 2017

A few months ago, my brother-in-law, Mike Reed, who is an avid hunter, took the trip of a lifetime, when he went to South Africa for a real African Safari. For a hunter like Mike, this trip was something they often never get to take, and never really dared to dream that they might take. This trip was not a family trip, my sister, Caryl, Mike’s wife, did not go. Mike went with his boss and friend. This was a guys trip, and it was not intended to be a relaxing vacation, but rather it was going to be a lot of work. Some of the animals were fairly easy to locate, but others took a good amount of walking and lots of patience.

Each new day began with the hunters in the Safari heading out in search of a different type of game. If the hunt was successful, they would come back with. not only a new trophy to be hung on the wall, but the promise of a great meal the next day. After the meal, the rest of the meat was given to the villagers. It was a win-win situation for all concerned. The people running the safari took really good care of the hunters. They didn’t want for anything. Their food was great, and the service was good too. The hunters brought back Kudu, Eland, Gemsbok, two Impala, two Wildebeest, Zebra, Sable, and Waterbuck. Mike says he liked the taste of the Gemsbok the best. Mike was also trying for a wild boar, but while he had a good hunt, he did not bring home the bacon.

The trip was truly the trip of a lifetime for an avid hunter, and one he’s not likely to take again, but don’t let that fool you. Mike is a hunter and he will go for one of some hunting trips again. In fact, he got word that he has a license for a hunt in Alaska in 2019, so it looks like he will have many opportunities in the future. If he keeps going hunting and having such successful hunts, they may have to build another room to put all of his mounts. And I don’t think he will mind that either. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The worst fate a ship can suffer is to end up at the bottom of the sea. Nevertheless, it is a hazard that goes with the territory. Most of these lost ships simply litter the ocean floor, never seeing the light of day again, but once in a while, a ship…or part of a ship finds itself being raised up from the bottom again. Such was the case with USS Monitor, a Civil War era naval warship, that sunk to a watery grave in a storm on March 9, 1862, taking with it, 16 members of it’s crew, who were afraid to go topside in the storm.

A short nine months before the tragedy of the USS Monitor, the ship had been part of a revolution in naval warfare. On March 9, 1862, it dueled to a standstill with the CSS Virginia in one of the most famous moments in naval history. It was the first time two ironclads ships faced each other in a naval engagement. During the battle, the two ships circled one another, jockeying for position as they fired their guns, but the cannon balls were no match for the ironclad ships, and they simply deflected off of the sides. In the early afternoon, the Virginia pulled back to Norfolk. Neither ship was seriously damaged, but the Monitor effectively ended the short reign of terror that the Confederate ironclad had brought to the Union navy. What a strange battle that must have been.

The USS Monitor was designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson. Probably the most strange part of the design was the fact that Monitor had an unusually low profile, rising from the water only 18 inches. The ship sat so low to the water, that it could easily have resembled a submarine. The flat iron deck had a 20 foot cylindrical turret rising from the middle of the ship. The turret housed two 11 inch Dahlgren guns. The shift had a draft of less than 11 feet so it could operate in the shallow harbors and rivers of the South. It was commissioned on February 25, 1862, and arrived at Chesapeake Bay just in time to engage the Virginia. After the famous duel with the CSS Virginia, the Monitor provided gun support on the James River for George B. McClellan’s Peninsular Campaign. By December 1862, it was clear the ship was no longer needed in Virginia, so she was sent to Beaufort, North Carolina, to join a fleet being assembled for an attack on Charleston.

The Monitor was an ideal type of ship in the sheltered waters of Chesapeake Bay, but the heavy, low-slung ship was no good in the open sea. Knowing that, the USS Rhode Island towed the ironclad around the rough waters of Cape Hatteras…a plan that would prove disastrous. As the Monitor pitched and swayed in the rough seas, the caulking around the gun turret loosened and water began to leak into the hull. More leaks developed as the journey continued. High seas tossed the craft, causing the ship’s flat armor bottom to slap the water. Each roll opened more seams, and by nightfall on December 30, it was clear that the Monitor was going to sink. That evening, the Monitor’s commander, J.P. Bankhead, signaled the Rhode Island that they needed to abandon ship. The USS Rhode Island pulled as close as safety allowed to the stricken USS Monitor, and two lifeboats were lowered to retrieve the crew. Many of the sailors were rescued, but some men were too terrified to venture onto the deck in such rough seas. The Monitor’s pumps stopped working, and the ship sank before 16 of its crew members could be rescued. It amazes me that a ship that could deflect cannon balls, was taken down by loosened calking.

On this day in 2002, the rusty iron gun turret of the USS Monitor rose up from the bottom of its watery grave, and into the daylight for the first time in 140 years. The ironclad warship was raised from the floor of the Atlantic, where it had rested since it went down in a storm off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, during the Civil War. Divers had been working for six weeks to bring it to the surface. The remains of two of the 16 lost sailors were discovered by divers during the Monitor’s 2002 reemergence. Many of the ironclad’s artifacts are now on display at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia.

Hitler was an insanly, evil ruler, and he hated the Jewish people…that is a known fact. It wasn’t anything they did, it was just his own twisted mind. That said, the Jewish people found themselves hiding in order to save their lives. Anne Frank was one of the most famous of those persecuted Jewish people, most likely because of her diary, which was published by her father following her death at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany, and his release following the liberation of the camps. Annelies Marie Frank was born in Frankfurt, Germany, on June 12, 1929. She was the second daughter of Otto Frank and Edith Frank-Hollander, both of Jewish families that had lived in Germany for centuries. With the rise of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler in 1933, Otto moved his family to Amsterdam to escape the escalating Nazi persecution of Jews. In Holland, he ran a successful spice and jam business. Anne attended a Montessori school with other middle-class Dutch children, but with the German invasion of the Netherlands in 1940 she was forced to transfer to a Jewish school. In 1942, Otto began preparing a hiding place in an annex of his warehouse on the Prinsengracht Canal in Amsterdam. It was a wise move, given what was coming. The family moved in on July 15, 1942, when Anne’s sister, Margot received a letter telling her to report to the labor camps in Germany. Knowing what that meant, the family took refuge in the secret hiding place they had prepared. This would be their home for the next 25 months.

Nineteen months earlier, on December 1, 1940, Anne’s father Otto Frank moved the offices of the spice and gelling companies he worked for, Opekta and Pectacon, from an address on Singel canal to Prinsengracht 263. The warehouse on Prinsengracht Canal, where Otto Frank ran his business, was a perfect place to create a safe room for his family, should the need ever arise. On July 15, 1942, the need arose. The ground floor of the building consisted of three sections. The front was the goods and dispatch entrance, basically the storefront. Behind the storefront was the middle section where the spice mills were located. At the rear, which was the ground floor of the annex, was the warehouse where the goods were packed for distribution. On the first floor above were the offices of Frank’s employees…Miep Gies, Bep Voskuijl (known in Anne Frank’s diary as Elli) and Johannes Kleiman were in the front office. Victor Kugler in the middle and Otto Frank in the rear office above the warehouse and below the floors which would later hide him and his family for two years until their betrayal to the Nazi authorities. The Achterhuis (Dutch for “back house”) or Secret Annex…as it was called in The Diary of a Young Girl, an English translation of the diary…is the rear extension of the building. It was concealed from view by houses on all four sides of a quadrangle. Its secluded position made it an ideal hiding place for Otto Frank, his wife Edith, two daughters, Margot and Anne, and four other Jews seeking refuge from Nazi persecution. Though the total amount of floor space in the inhabited rooms came to only about 500 square feet, Anne Frank wrote in her diary that it was relatively luxurious compared to other hiding places they had heard about. Those in hiding had been so careful. The entrance to the secret annex was hidden by a hinged bookcase, and former employees of Otto and other Dutch friends delivered them food and supplies procured at high risk. Anne and the others lived in rooms with blacked-out windows, and never flushed the toilet during the day out of fear that their presence would be detected. In June 1944, Anne’s spirits were raised by the Allied landing at Normandy, and she was hopeful that the long-awaited liberation of Holland would soon begin.

The family remained hidden here for two years and one month, praying that the war would end, and Hitler would be defeated before they were found. They stayed there until they were anonymously betrayed to the Nazi authorities by a Dutch informer, arrested, and deported to their deaths in concentration camps. Of the hidden group, only Otto Frank survived the concentration death camps. It was on this day, August 4, 1944, that time ran out for the family and friends in the secret annex. The Nazi Gestapo showed up at the warehouse, and they knew everything they needed to know about how to find the group of Jews in the secluded hiding place. They went right to the bookcase door and charged into the secret rooms. I can only imagine the terror that followed…the screaming, the running, the fear of knowing what was probably coming next. They were sent to a concentration camp in Holland, and in September Anne and most of the others were shipped to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland. In the fall of 1944, with the Soviet liberation of Poland underway, Anne was moved with her sister Margot to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany. Suffering under the deplorable conditions of the camp, the two sisters caught typhus and died in early March 1945. The camp was liberated by the British less than two months later. Otto Frank was the only one of the 10 to survive the Nazi death camps. Two short months…or six short months, if you look at when they were captured. What a waste of a life or lives, and all because of the insanity of one man.

When a man retires, life slows down, and he begins to take it easy. Ok, let get real. he majority of men retire and have dozens of “honey-do’s” to get done, and not only for their wives. Somehow the “daddy-do’s” are just as big a part of life now…not that Daddy would want it any other way. After all, at least for my brother-in-law, Lynn Cook, his girls, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith are his princesses, and what they want or need, he will try to get it for them. And of course, now that he is retired, he has lots more time to spend with his grandchildren, Weston and Easton Moore, Jala Satterwhite, and Kaytlyn Griffith too.

Over the past month, Lynn has found himself in the middle of a daddy-do at his daughter, Machelle’s house. For quite some time, Machelle and her husband, Steve had to shovel the snow off of the grass, because there was no sidewalk. Anyone who has done that, knows that it can be a pain in the neck, but you don’t want to wade through the snow ether, so you shovel the grass. Recently, Machelle and Steve decided that the time had come to put in a sidewalk and a patio. Thankfully, they were able to call on Lynn to help with the work…and it does help to know people, who know people. Lynn was able to find a dump trailer and skid steer, and then he worked on digging everything out while Machelle and Steve were working during the day. It was a wonderful help to them!! They all worked together, digging some areas by hand and others by machine. Finally they were ready to pour the cement, and when it was all done, it looked amazing. Machelle and Steve couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

Of course, when Lynn isn’t doing his daddy-do’s, he and my sister-in-law, Debbie, his wife of 43 years, love to go camping in the Big Horn Mountains. They will head up the mountain, and stay there two weeks of so, just hanging out, enjoying the quiet peacefulness, and the crisp mountain air. It s a retreat they both love very much. When they aren’t camping, Lynn has been fixing things up around their house…just to keep busy, and enjoying his retirement by spending time with his family. Today is Lynn’s birthday. Happy birthday Lynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Sean Mortensen is a mechanic for Anadarko, by trade. Since I have been married to a mechanic for 42 years, I can tell you that they work very hard. Being a mechanic, of any kind, is a hard job, and from what I’ve seen, the mechanic is usually the only person taking care of the vehicle or equipment. The operator, on the other hand, is usually pretty hard on the vehicle or equipment…after all, it isn’t theirs, so what difference does it make…right. That’s what the mechanic deals with every day. By the time they get home, they often feel exhausted.

That’s where Sean differs from a lot of other mechanics…at least on the weekends. You see, Sean’s motto is work hard…play hard. When the weekend rolls around, it’s time to cut loose, and party at the lake with friends. Sean, and my niece, Amanda have lots of great friends, all of whom enjoy the lake and summer fun. And when you think about it, why do we work anyway? It isn’t because we all love working, it’s because we want to be able go out and do the things we like to do in life…like play at the lake. Of course, the lake is only Sean and Amanda’s summer playground. In the winter, they are out on the snowmobiles, getting as deep as they can in a snowdrift. The colder weather doesn’t slow down their fun on bit. Many people tend to hibernate in the winter, longing for the summer months, but not Sean and Amanda. They just change playgrounds, and the fun continues.

I suppose it sounds like all Sean and Amanda do is party, and that might be something they really enjoy, but they are also very responsible people. They work, own their own home, and they have raised a beautiful 13 year old daughter. Adulting is a fact of life they take very seriously too. People depend on them and the fact that they will do their jobs. If no one worked, how would anything ever be accomplished. There are people who don’t want to be a part of a working community, but would rather that the government take care of them, and I am proud to say that Sean and Amanda are not a part of the “hand out” community. The things they have, they have earned. There is a certain amount a pride that can be taken away from that. They work hard, and they play hard, because they have earned it. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

So much has changed over the past thirteen years. My grand niece, Jaydn Mortensen has gone from being a shy little girl to a confident young lady, who really excels at anything she puts her mind to. Jaydn lives in Rawlins, so we don’t get to see her as much as we would like, and that was probably why she was a little more shy at first, but once she knew that we are her family too…well, that settled it. Jaydn was always a bubbly little girl who was always on the go, and the fact that her parents, Sean and Amanda lead very active lives, made that the norm for Jaydn too.

They love spending the summer weekends at Seminole Reservoir, and that has made Jaydn…for lack of a better word…a bit of a fish. She has grown up on that lake, and she loves to swim, ski, and go boating. The lake is practically her home away from home. When Sean and Amanda go to the lake on the weekends, there is always a big group of friends who go too, so there are always other kids for Jaydn to play with, although she is getting to old of “play” exactly. Nevertheless, she not to big to have a great time hanging with her friends and family at the lake.

All that aside, Jaydn’s first love is horses. She loves to ride, and loves to compete. She competes in rodeo, and other riding events too. She has become quite an accomplished horsewoman, and we are all very proud of her accomplishments. She is so completely at home with her horses and in the arena. Nevertheless, she is growing into such a beautiful and graceful young lady, and I am always amazed at the changes in her, but then I guess I shouldn’t be. She comes from great parents, who have given her the freedom and the means to fulfill her dreams, and have cheered her along all the way. Today is Jaydn’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Jaydn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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