Monthly Archives: May 2019

My nephew, Rob Masterson is a busy father of four children. His oldest, Christina is grown and living on her own in Colorado. The other three, Raelynn, Matthew, and Anna still live in the family home…which recently changed, by the way. They had been living in an apartment, and now they are in a house…much better for a family. The really nice thing is that the new place is much closer to where Rob and his wife, Dustie both work…Sam’s club. This is a great change for this family, and we are all very happy for them.

As a boy, Rob grew up in a house full of women. His mom, my sister, Cheryl Masterson was a single mom, and of her five children, Rob was the only boy. I’m not sure for whom that situation was the worst. Rob was definitely outnumbered, but I don’t think that the girls, Chantel, Toni, Elizabeth, and Jenny, ever really got the better of their brother, who was the middle child. These days they all joke about the antics of those years, and in reality, it’s all pretty funny. Nevertheless, I don’t know how pleasant it was at the time, especially for the other party in this boy verses girls show of power…their mom. I’m sure that there were many times Cheryl wanted to send them all to their rooms, but there were likely just as many times that the antics brought great bouts laughter in the house, because lets face it, the antics of kids can be very funny.

I think that the antics Rob pulled as a kid have never really left him, because his own son seems to have had some inherited many of his dad’s abilities…or maybe, it’s just a boy thing. Whatever it is, sisters have “suffered” the consequences of it for generations. Still, eventually those boys grow up to be men, and I think that sometimes the ones who picked on their sisters the most and pulled the most pranks, make the best dads. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Weston Moore is graduating from high school today and I find it hard to believe that it has already been that many years since he was born. Weston is the oldest son of my niece Machelle Moore and her husband, Steve. He has a younger brother named Easton. Weston was destined to be tall from the moment he was born. He comes from tall stock…with his grandfather, Lynn Cook, who is 6 foot 6 inches, his dad who is well over six feet and his mom who is close to six feet, he is destined to be tall. Last night when we were visiting, he said that someone had measured him and he was 6 feet 5 inches.

Weston recently got a job at Verizon in Powell, and he plans to work for a year before pursuing his higher education. Sometimes, that is a nice thing for a student. Thirteen years of public school is s long time, and sometimes a break is needed before moving on in life. It’s also nice to have the opportunity to brag to younger siblings and cousins when they head back to school and you don’t have to. Nevertheless, pretty soon you begin to think that maybe it is time to get on with it and go back to school. I’m sure that time will come for Weston before the year is over.

Weston’s is considering his options for college, and is looking at Sheridan College, because they have one of the best culinary arts programs. Being a chef is something he has wanted for some time now. Since my grandson, Chris Petersen went through the program, I can say that it is an excellent program, and Chris learned so much in his time there.

Wherever life takes Weston next and in the future, I know that he will do well. He knows how to work hard and doesn’t mind the hard work. When he puts his mind to it, I know he will excel in any endeavor. Today begins the journey into the rest of your life, Weston. Today you cross the threshold between being a kid and being a man. You are a kind and loving man who will go far in this world. I am so excited to see what the next chapter of your life will bring for you. Congratulations on your graduation from high school!! We are all so proud of you!!

This past year has been filled with many exciting changes for my sister, Caryl. She retired from her long time career in respiratory therapy at the Carbon County Memorial Hospital, but stayed of the board of respiratory therapists. That position has kept her somewhat busier that she had originally anticipated, but it has also been fulfilling. Still, when you are retired, you don’t really want to have too many obligations. The whole point of retirement is to have as little obligations as possible. Most retired people want to be able to pick up and go somewhere on a whim, not have places they need to be every day.

Caryl and her husband, Mike Reed have spent the past year building their retirement home on their ranch outside of Casper. It will be very strange to have them living in Casper. Caryl hasn’t lived in Casper for years, so it will be nice to have them back here again. Their new home is a beautiful, open concept home with granite countertops and floor to ceiling windows in the dining room, which looks out on a beautiful view of the mountain. The entertaining space is big enough to entertain our whole big family, which is just great, because there are enough of us to need a big space. Caryl loves to entertain, so I know that we are all going to enjoy many good times at their house. It will be a whole new life.

Caryl has always loved horses, but for this birthday, she got a different kind of power…trike power. Her husband got her a trike for her birthday, and she absolutely loves it. It is a beautiful dark red Harley Davidson, and I know they will have many wonderful adventures on the open road. They like to travel, and this will be a new kind of travel for them. I’m not a fan of motorcycles myself, but there are many in my family who are, so this bike fits right in with the rest of the gang, and Caryl is very excited about riding it, so that’s what matters. I’m sure that in the future Caryl will have a couple of horses of their own, and while they won’t take trips on the horses per se, they will enjoy spending many hours riding them as well. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens, this has been an incredible year. Probably the greatest year since the year his first child, Michelle was born. This was the year Mike became a grandfather to his granddaughter, Elliott Michelle Stevens. Elliott was born on August 3, 2018. Her parents are Mike and my sister, Alena Stevens’ son, Garrett and his wife Kayla Stevens. Becoming grandparents was something Mike and Alena have been waiting to be for a long time to be grandparents, and little Elliott has fulfilled a very special dream of theirs. Mike and Alena are very family oriented, and adding a granddaughter takes their family life into a whole new dimension…a very special dimension.

Mike is a sports fanatic, and loves to share his knowledge with his kids and maybe down the road, his granddaughter. Mike knows a lot about sports, any sports. Not everybody who likes sports, really understand the logistics of the sport, but Mike understands it. Summertime brings different kinds of sports. Mike loves softball, and sometimes is on a team. This year Mike and Alena bought a new 4-wheeler, and they are looking forward to spending lots of time on the mountain riding around on the 4-wheeler. In fact, they had planned a weekend on the mountain for Mike’s birthday, but the weather refused to cooperate…something many of us are disgusted with. Hopefully this spring/summer won’t prove to be ultra-rainy, so they will have lots of time to use their new toy.

Another of the sports that Mike likes is the yearly family camping trip to Boysen Reservoir, where they hold the Stevens’ Family Horseshoe Tournament. The whole Stevens family looks forward to the trip each year, and they really feel cheated out of summer if they don’t get to go. They have a traveling trophy for each event, and it is a fight to the finish to see who will take that trophy home this year. Everyone hates to lose, because to win means that you get bragging rights for a whole year. Now that can be bad for the losers. That said, we wish everyone good luck this year. Today is Mike’s birthday. Congratulations on becoming a grandpa this year, Mike. I know you are loving it. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Almost immediately after he gained power in Germany, Adolph Hitler began making plans to control the world. He never was and never would be happy with just being the dictator of Germany. By May of 1940, Hitler had a plan in place to seize control. On 10 May 1940, Germany invaded Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Belgium under the operational plan Fall Gelb, or Case Yellow. The Battle of Belgium or Belgian Campaign, often referred to within Belgium as the 18 Days’ Campaign. The Allied armies tried to halt the German Army in Belgium, thinking it to be the main German thrust. After the French had fully committed the best of the Allied armies to Belgium between 10 and 12 May, the Germans enacted the second phase of their operation. It was an unexpected move, and since the Allies were unprepared, the Germans advanced toward the English Channel. The German Army reached the Channel after five days, encircling the Allied armies. The Germans gradually reduced the pocket of Allied forces, forcing them back to the sea. The Belgian Army surrendered on 28 May 1940, ending the Battle of Belgium.

The first tank battle of the war occurred during the Battle of Belgium. It was called the Battle of Hannut. It was the largest tank battle in history at the time, but was later surpassed by the battles of the North African Campaign and the Eastern Front. The battle also included the Battle of Fort Eben-Emael, the first strategic airborne operation using paratroopers ever attempted. It would seem that there were a lot of firsts that happened during the 18 days of the Battle of Belgium.

Strangely, the official German historic account stated that in the 18 days of bitter fighting, the Belgian Army were tough opponents, and spoke of the “extraordinary bravery” of its soldiers. That surprises me, because the Germans hated to appear weaker than their opponents. Nevertheless, in the end, the Belgium forces were no match for the Germans, and the Belgian collapse forced the Allied withdrawal from continental Europe. The British Royal Navy were forced to evacuate Belgian ports during Operation Dynamo, allowing the British Expeditionary Force, along with many Belgian and French soldiers, to escape capture and continue military operations. France reached its own armistice with Germany in June 1940. Belgium continued to be occupied by the Germans until the autumn of 1944, when it was finally liberated by the Western Allies.

It seems strange to me to create a piece of legislation that protects the government and the war effort from…basically hate speech, but on May 16, 1918, the United States Congress did pass just such an act. What seems even more strange is to have a need for such a piece of legislation during a time of war. Called the Sedition Act, a piece of legislation designed to protect America’s participation in World War I. Along with the Espionage Act of the previous year, the Sedition Act was orchestrated largely by A. Mitchell Palmer, the United States attorney general under President Woodrow Wilson. I think most of us understand espionage, and why such an act was important to the war effort. The Espionage Act, passed shortly after the US entrance into the war in early April 1917, made it a crime for any person to convey information intended to interfere with the U.S. armed forces’ prosecution of the war effort or to promote the success of the country’s enemies.

The Sedition Act was aimed at socialists, pacifists and other anti-war activists. The Act imposed harsh penalties on anyone who was found guilty of making false statements that interfered with the prosecution of the war; insulting or abusing the United States government, the flag, the Constitution or the military; agitating against the production of necessary war materials; or advocating, teaching or defending any of these acts. Hmmm…I think we have need of this act in today’s America. Those who were found guilty of such actions, would according to the Sedition Act be punished by a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than twenty years, or both. The penalty was the same as the one for acts of espionage in the earlier legislation.

Though Wilson and Congress considered the Sedition Act as crucial in order to stifle the spread of dissent within the country in that time of war, modern legal scholars felt the act was contrary to the letter and spirit of the US Constitution, specifically to the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. One of the most famous prosecutions under the Sedition Act during World War I was that of Eugene V. Debs, a pacifist labor organizer and founder of the International Workers of the World (IWW Debs had run for president in 1900 as a Social Democrat and in 1904, 1908 and 1912 on the Socialist Party of America ticket. He delivered an anti-war speech in June 1918 in Canton, Ohio and was promptly arrested. After being found guilty, he was sentenced to ten years in prison under the Sedition Act. Debs appealed the decision and upon stating that Debs had acted with the intention of obstructing the war effort the US Supreme Court upheld his conviction.

Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes referred to the earlier landmark case of Schenck v. United States (1919) as the basis for his decision. Charles Schenck, also a Socialist, had been found guilty under the Espionage Act after distributing a flyer urging recently drafted men to oppose the United States conscription policy. Holmes stated that freedom of speech and press could be constrained in certain instances. He said that the question in every case is “whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

Debs’ sentence was commuted in 1921 when the Sedition Act was repealed by Congress. Major portions of the Espionage Act remain part of United States law to the present day, although the crime of sedition was largely eliminated by the famous libel case Sullivan v. New York Times (1964), which determined that “the press’s criticism of public officials—unless a plaintiff could prove that the statements were made maliciously or with reckless disregard for the truth—was protected speech under the First Amendment.”

As a kid, I remember that whenever we were sitting at an intersection that was very busy, causing us to have to wait seemingly forever to be able to get across the intersection, one of my parents would say something like, “Wow!! Who opened the floodgates?” Of course, I didn’t know what a floodgate was then, and I just thought they were referring to a flood of vehicles, which they were, and they probably didn’t think about what a real floodgate was either. It was just a funny saying to us, but in reality, a floodgate is a very important flood preventative tool. I guess that our version of floodgates meant the same thing, except in vehicles and not in water.

On May 15, 2011, the United States Army Corps of Engineers opened the floodgates in the state of Louisiana along the Mississippi river. This was an effort to save larger cities located along the Mississippi, like Baton Rouge and New Orleans, from flooding. The Mississippi was already heading for critical stages, and it was only expected to get worse. The flooding was expected to cover up to three thousand square miles, and it had the potential to affect up to 25,000 people. This was the first time in forty years that the river levels have forced the opening of the floodgates. I don’t know how often floodgates are utilized in other areas to prevent flooding, but when people live in flood prone areas, they have to use whatever mean necessary to protect themselves and their property from damage and death.

The Mississippi River floods in April and May 2011 were among the largest and most damaging recorded along that river in the past century. The flood was comparable in extent to the major floods of 1927 and 1993. From April 14–16, the storm system that was responsible for one of the largest tornado outbreaks in US history also produced large amounts of rainfall across the southern and midwestern United States. Then two more storm systems, each with heavy rain and tornadoes, hit in the third week of April. In the fourth week of April, from April 25–28, another and even more extensive and deadly storm system passed through the Mississippi Valley dumping more rainfall resulting in deadly flash floods. The unprecedented extensive rainfall from these four storms, combined with springtime snow melt from the Upper Midwest, created the perfect conditions for a 500-year flood along the Mississippi.

The purpose of opening the floodgates was to take some of the pressure off of the levees, in the hope of preventing the breech of the levees. Most of the time, it works pretty well, like when the city of Casper, Wyoming, where I live opens up the gates at the area lakes and while the river runs high for a time, there are very few places where it spills over the bank. Unfortunately, the Mississippi river still spilled over its banks, and broke levees. I don’t think anyone could have really prevented the monster floods that hit the area in 2011, or even in 1927 or 1933, but they couldn’t focus on that right then, because they had to do whatever they could to prevent. In the end, the flood came and the damage was done.

I first heard about Oak Harbor, Washington when my sister, Caryl Reed and her then husband lived there while he was stationed at the nearby naval station at Whidbey Island. Now that my daughter, Amy Royce, her husband Travis and their kids Shai and Caalab live in the Bellingham area of upstate Washington, Oak Harbor has once again come into range of my radar. Oak Harbor was founded in the 1850s when three settlers staked claims where the city now stands. Martin Taftezon, a shoemaker from Norway; C.W. Sumner from New England; and Ulrich Freund, a Swiss Army officer. Freund retained part of his claim, which today is home to his descendants. The city was incorporated on May 14, 1915, and celebrated it’s 100th anniversary in 2015.

When we visited Caryl, she took us to see one of the prettiest places in the area, known as Deception Pass. You might wonder why it is called Deception Pass. The Pass is actually a strait between the Whidbey and the Fidalgo Islands and is called “Deception” because George Vancouver was mislead by it into thinking that Whidbey Island was a peninsula. However it came to be, Deception Pass, the area is beautiful. There is also a series of 25 trails in the Deception State Park that I am interested in. I am hoping to be able to hike the area on our next visit to see our daughter and her family.

The town of Oak Harbor is Whidbey Island’s largest incorporated city. It is located in Island County. Oak Harbor was named for the Garry Oak trees which grace its skyline. The growth of Oak Harbor was really brought on by two events…the building of Deception Pass Bridge on July 31, 1935, and the completion of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island on September 21, 1942. After that, Oak Harbor grew from a population of 362 in 1935, to 22,954 in 2018. I enjoyed our visit when my sister lived there, and even though our daughter lives further north, Oak Harbor is not too far away for a visit and maybe a hike.

For some time now, my niece, Andrea Spicer has been a chef. She has cooked at several restaurants. These days she is at the Best Western Hotel in Rawlins, and she has been for quite a while. All her hard work is paying off, because she is in line for a promotion to the position of Assistant Kitchen Supervisor. I know she will get the promotion, and I am so happy for her. This is the work she has dreamed of, and the only work she has ever wanted to do.

Of course, for Andrea, there is nothing more important than her son, Topher. They are truly best friends. Since his birth in 2005, Topher has been Andrea’s world. Andrea loves spending time with Topher, and says he couldn’t ask for a better kid. She feels very honored to be his mom. Topher has been her purpose in life for almost 14 years now, and he makes her more proud of him every day.

The biggest news for Andrea is that she has started a quest to a healthier life. She started her journey with the Keto eating plan, and in short order, she has lost over 30 pounds!!!! I think for any Chef, the hardest thing to do is to lose weight, because you are always around food. That makes Andrea’s success even better. Keto is an easy plan to follow though, and you never feel hungry or deprived. It is the plan I have been on for over a year and a half, so I know how Andrea feels about her new lifestyle. There is nothing quite like the rewards that come from perseverance and hard work. I am so proud of Andrea’s hard work, and so happy for her with her success. Keep it up Andrea!! You look great!! Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My uncle, Larry Byer was my mom, Collene Spencer’s older brother, and along with their younger brother, Wayne Byer, her best friends from her early childhood. They were the closest in age to her, and quickly became her usual playmates. Sometimes they got in trouble with their mom together, and other times her brothers were just sweet brothers who wanted to put a smile on their sister’s face. Mom always felt very blessed to be the sister in the middle of the brothers.

Uncle Larry was also a great blessing to his mom, Hattie Byer. When he had to move to Louisiana for work, he and Aunt Jeanette brought his mom down for a visit, and showed her a wonderful time. It’s unlikely that Grandma would have traveled to Louisiana if he had not lived there, so the trip was a bit of a bonus for her. Uncle Larry was not born on Mother’s Day, but his birthday has fallen on Mother’s Day many times since then, and I’m sure that it always felt like a bit of an extra blessing for Grandma on the years that it did.

Uncle Larry always had a great sense of humor, and a sweet nature. I always loved his laugh and he could sure tell a good joke. For as long as I can remember, Uncle Larry and Aunt Jeanette had a place out in the country. They built houses for their kids out there too, and when they moved to Louisiana, the kids stayed on the land. I always expected that they would move back on the land when he retired, but they didn’t do that. They bought a little house in Glenrock, and it was there they he lived out his days, and there that Aunt Jeanette is still living now. Uncle Larry has been in Heaven now for about seven and a half years now, and we all miss him very much. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Larry. We love you.

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