Caryn

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My niece, Lacey Stevens has turned into an amazing girl, right before our eyes. For many years, Lacey was kind of a shy girl, and I didn’t really expect her to become the exuberant woman she has become. I guess that was my error, because Lacey is a very capable, and rather outgoing woman. Lots of people outgrow shyness, and I guess she did just that.

After high school, Lacey decided to become a cosmetologist, and after going to school for that, began her career, but our Lacey was destined for greater things. She still in the same field, but she now holds the position of salon manager. The truth is that she is pretty young to be in that position, but as I said, she is an amazing woman. The people who work under her, as well as those who work, over her are very pleased with her abilities, indeed. Part of Lacey’s job is to help draw business into the salon, and she is quite good at doing just that. It’s a win-win situation for everyone when the slots are all full. Better for business all the way around.

Lacey also organized any events that might take place as a part of the salon. Recently, they held the “Cut for a Cause” event, in which all of the specified profits of the day were donated for breast cancer research. It was a great way for Lacey and the staff at Ulta Beauty to give back to the community and make a difference for many people through important research.

Of course, work is not all Lacey is about. She became an aunty on August 3, 2018, when her brother, Garrett and his wife, Kayla had a baby girl named Elliott. Becoming an aunt for the first time is always special, and little Elliott is such a smiley girl, that her family can’t help but smile too. Lacey and Elliott are great friends, and that will only get better. Elliott is a long awaited addition to the Stevens family, and we are all quite happy about her arrival. Today is Lacey’s birthday. Happy birthday Lacey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

For the over 45 years that I have known my husband’s aunt, Margee Kountz, I have understood that she is the rock of her family. I say that I understood it, because over the years I have watched as different events have unfolded within her family, and it is Margee who always steps in to hold the family together. Margee was a single mom for most of her children, Dan and Sandy’s lives. Her children and grandchildren, and now great grandchildren have always been the joy of her life. Margee’s life has not been without loss…a daughter-in-law and a grandson, plus her parents, and both of her sisters. Margee is the last one of her generation in her family who is still living.

Margee stepped in to help raise her son’s two children, and to give them a stable life. She also helped to raise her daughter’s three children. I learned when I had my own grandchildren that with working parents, it takes a village to raise a child. Our kids need “involved” grandparents, and I can’t think of a greater blessing for a grandparent than spending time with their amazing grandkids. Margee has been a great help to her kids and grandkids, and they are very close to Margee, even as adults.

These days, the grandkids are the ones to help Margee. As her health isn’t as good as it was, she sometimes needs help with things. Because of the close relationship the grandkids have had with Margee, they are happy to help her. They love her after all, and anyone who knows Margee, and what a loving and caring person she is, can see exactly why they love her. Margee is the person who would give you her last nickel, if you needed it.

For as long as I have known her, I have felt very blessed by her. From her cake decorating years, during which we could count on the best looking cakes for parties, to her willingness to help with any event that was being held, made her a valued member of our family…and one we never want to be without. Today is Margee’s birthday. Happy birthday Margee!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Most of us have heard, either from our dads, grandfathers. or great grandfathers about how they or their ancestors had to quit school at an early age to work and help support the family. Life at the turn of the 20th Century was not easy. With the great depression, and poverty everywhere, and no real child labor laws, and the Industrial Revolution in full swing, the kids had little choice but to go out and help their families put food on the table. At that time in history, there were no real child labor laws in place, and there was a need that had to be filled. Whole families were in danger of starvation. The family had to get some money soon. Exceptions were made.

Because of the circumstances of the times, and the need to eat, the nation’s children went to work. They worked in coal mines, factories, agriculture, and every other menial job they could get. So many of these jobs would have detrimental affects on the health of the workers. It was not unusual to find whole families or father-son pairs who were hired together. Unfortunately, children were not given jobs that suited their status as young, impressionable people who aren’t able to really care for themselves, much less do a skilled job. The child laborers were often given the jobs adults physically couldn’t accomplish. That sounds strange to us, but it meant crawling into tiny places the adults could not fit through. As an example, in factories, children were sent into the tiny, cramped interiors of the machines. Their task was to fix mechanisms that the adults simply couldn’t reach. This was dangerous work, and even with doing things the adults couldn’t, children received lower pay than the adults who depended on them.

The small stature of the children ensured that they often had the most dangerous jobs available in the coal mines too. As greasers, the children were constantly in danger of being crushed by carts loaded down with coal, as they ran up and down the tram tracks, a heavy bucket of grease on each arm, making sure the tram axels were appropriately greased at all times. Nippers (also called trappers) were children who had the dangerous responsibility of opening and closing the shaft doors as coal cars came hurtling down the sloped tracks. Boys who fell asleep in the total stillness and darkness…sometimes a mile beneath the surface…would be crushed if they failed to lift the door.

Eventually, activists began to take issue with the treatment of children in positions like these. One photographer…Lewis Hine made it his personal mission to document the situation of children in the coal fields of Appalachia. Because of his persistence, we have a cache of images documenting this era of American child labor. These and many other images led the US government to pass the Keating-Owens Child Labor Act of 1916. The act created a minimum age of 16 for mine workers, as well as instating the eight-hour workday. Then, shockingly, this act was deemed unconstitutional. The child labor issues continued until the 1930s, when the New Deal brought permanent reform for child laborers.

All seemed normal that January 24th, 1966 as the Air India Flight 101, a Boeing 707 was making its regular run from Bombay to New York, but it was not truly a normal flight at all. In reality, the plane was too low, and to make matters worse, there was a fog bank hanging over Mount Blanc in the Alps. There were 117 people onboard the plane, when it careened into the side of the mountain at 8:00am local time, hitting just fifty feet below the summit. If only they could have been fifty feet higher, it would have been just a very close call.

The plane was preparing to land at the Geneva Airport in Switzerland. Onboard was the Indian Atomic Energy Commission, Dr Homi Jehangir Bhabha, who was on his way to Vienna. Six passengers were British, and the rest were Indian nationals…46 of those were sailors. The plane was a few minutes behind schedule as it made its descent, but the captain of the Air India Boeing 707, was one of the airline’s most experienced pilots, and all seemed well. The pilot had radioed the control tower a few minutes earlier to report that his instruments were working fine and the aircraft was flying at 19,000 feet, which was at least 3,000 feet higher than the Mont Blanc summit…but he wasn’t, or he was descending faster than he realized.

Rescue teams were dispatched immediately, and they found wreckage scattered on the south-west side of the Mount Blanc, about 1,400 feet below the summit. Mountain guide, Gerard Devoussoux, who was one of the first to arrive at the crash site, said: “Another 50 feet and the plane would have missed the rock. It made a huge crater in the mountain. Everything was completely pulverized. Nothing was identifiable except for a few letters and packets.” The site was devastating, and I’m sure the rescue teams felt sick at the sight of it. Planes that crash seldom leave bodies in one piece. French authorities radioed back the news that there was virtually no hope of survivors shortly after landing in the area.

When inclement weather moved in, the search had to be called off. The bad weather and poor visibility made the rescue efforts impossible. The airport quickly filled with relatives of the passengers involved in the disaster, all of whom were in tears after airport officials broke the news of the crash. Robert Bruce, from Tooting, who was waiting for his parents to arrive, said: “I am so choked I cannot even cry. I will just go home and collapse. As far as I am concerned my world has come to an end.”

The cause of the crash was determined to be pilot error. The pilot misunderstood the directions he was given with devastating results. Another crash had occurred at the same place 16 years earlier, killing 48 people. The Alps are mountains that receive a lot of mountain climbing traffic every year. Over the years climbers have come across plane parts, as well as body parts. More recently, a young French alpinist approaching the summit of Mont Blanc, saw a metal box poking out of the ice and snow on the shoulder of western Europe’s highest mountain. The box contained precious gems…including emeralds, rubies, and sapphires…worth hundreds of thousands of euros. The box had been there for over 50 years. The honest climber turned the gems in to authorities, but no one has claimed them yet. If they remain unclaimed, the could be returned to the climber, who has not been named.

You hear it a lot, especially on television shows. Doctors, nurses, police, firefighters, and paramedics are all told not to get personally involved. Those who instruct them not to get personally involved with their ill patients are, of course, trying to protect them from the inevitable grief of losing a patient, but being on the other side of that equation, I must say that when they do get personally involved, it is better for all.

For one thing, I think that most of the time, it is impossible for one human being, taking care of another human being, not to become personally involved. Because of their training, these professionals try not to get too close, but I don’t think many succeed, even when they only have a patient for a few days or even minutes. Sometimes it’s not so much the patient that tugs at there hearts, but rather the worried family members who are in need of comfort. For most family members there is nothing more helpful than an encouraging word, and yes, even a hug, when things seem to be falling apart.

In the years that I have taken care of my parents, my in-laws, my sister-in-law, and my husband, I have had more than my share of dealings with ambulance and fire department EMTs, as well as doctors, nurses, and CNAs. The ones I remember the most, were the ones who got personally involved. They knew when my worried spirit needed a hug…just so I could stay on my feet. There is nothing more important, than the moments when the ambulance crew has loaded up your loved one, and you are left in the house with the fire department EMTs in your living room picking up their gear. You suddenly realize that your loved on is in the hands of someone else. You can’t do anything more to help. You find yourself just standing there feeling very much alone, and suddenly very small. I guess I must have looked very fragile at those moments, because invariably, one of those wonderful firemen put their arms around me, and told me that everything was going to be ok. It doesn’t matter how big or small the firefighter was, him standing there in those bunkers made him feel very substantial. Those strong arms around me, allowing me to cry, made all the difference. I don’t know how that hug affected the firefighter, but I know that after one of those big hugs from that angel of a firefighter, I was able to wipe away my tears, pull myself up by the bootstraps, and head to the hospital, where I was needed to answer questions about my loved one’s health…questions that would make it easier for the doctors and nurses to give my loved ones better care, so they can save their lives. Sometimes, the first responders make the most difference…and that can make all the difference.

These days there aren’t many people who haven’t heard of the Santa Ana winds, the California wildfires, or this year, the burning of Australia. We hear all about how global warming is the cause of the tragic fires and loss of both vegetation and life, human and animal. I agree with the analogy that the fires in Australia are horrific, but the cause…well, that has been determined to be, not global warming, draught, or lightning, but rather arson…ARSON!! Disgusting just isn’t a big enough word for what that is.

I can’t imagine why anyone would choose to burn something…anything. You can call it a sickness, and maybe it is, but that cannot be an excuse. If we allow such an excuse, more and more people will use it, take out their frustrations on things around them, and then expect to be excused because they are “sick.” At this point, firefighters are battling wildfires across Australia. Meanwhile, the police in New South Wales have arrested dozens of people for offenses related to fires, including 24 for deliberately lighting fires and three for looting fire-ravaged communities. There is also a story saying that 183 to 200 people are suspected of “fire-related offenses since November 8th, including for ‘allegedly discarding a lighted cigarette or match on land,’ but no verification as to the exact charges being lodged.

It is sad that the most common motive for wildfire arson is crime concealment. Fires are set for the purpose of covering up a murder or burglary or to eliminate evidence left at a crime scene. Fires have also been known to be set to further social, political, or religious causes. The fire set to cover up a crime, while horrific, is at least explainable, but fires set for political, social, or religious reasons is completely disgusting. There is just no excuse for the loss of homes businesses, and lives, human and animal, that could excuse such destruction. One fire, set to cover up a crime is reasonable, though disgusting, but these are all over Australia. And while one person might be a “sick” arsonist, to find 24 to 200 “sick” arsonists, is not even possible. The other thought that makes me so mad I could scream, is that even if this is socially, politically, or religiously motivated, what is the point? What are they trying to prove? All I can say is, that I hope they find the people who did this and that they give them the maximum sentence possible. I don’t know Australian law, so I don’t know if they have the death penalty or not, but I think these people should get it, if they do. And if not, solitary confinement for the rest of their lives might…just might, be punishment enough, but I really doubt it.

My uncle, Bill Spencer has always been a very interesting man, and I mean that in the very best sense of the word. I don’t know what kind of a student Uncle Bill was in school, but he has always loved learning, probably more so on his own than in a classroom. Somehow he doesn’t strike me as a kid who would have loved being in class, but I could be wrong. His passion was, of course, the family history, but Uncle Bill likes history to go along with his family history, and that is where my uncle and I are the most alike. My Uncle Bill worked meticulously and tirelessly on the family history, someday hoping to get it into the hands of the younger generation, which ended up being me and a few others who cared about it the same way he did…and for his hard work, I will be forever grateful.

Much of my uncle’s knowledge about things was self-taught. He learned about antiques, guns, stamps, and coins; and then he incorporated his knowledge into businesses he owned and ran. And he would pass his knowledge along to anyone who wanted to listen. It was Uncle bill who got me interested in stamps and coins, and while I don’t have large collections, I have a few that I like. I think it might have been his love of stamps, coins, and guns that sparked Uncle Bill’s interest in antiques, but I don’t know that for sure. His knowledge of family history and his Dad, Allen Luther Spencer’s ability to make furniture, might have had a part in that too. In addition, the era that my Uncle Bill was born into, did not have the ability to mass produce furniture like we have today, so the beautiful furniture pieces became one-of-a-kind works of art, and not just the useful, but cookie-cutter furniture on our day.

Uncle Bill is getting older now, and some of his recent memory escapes him, but the past remains vivid, at least on his good days. The last time I saw him was a good day, and that made my sister, Cheryl Masterson, my cousin, Pam Wendling, and me very happy. His stories about the old days were vivid and full of knowledge, and any slips in his memory, were humorous and sweet, and still tied to people of the past. His advancing years, make me feel the urgent need to visit as often as I can, and my sisters, Cheryl, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and I hope to make the trip late this upcoming summer for another visit. With each passing year, we just never know if Uncle Bill will still be with us. He isn’t the oldest sibling in his family, but he has lived the longest. Nevertheless, one day, he will no longer be with us. I pray that day is a long way off. Today in Uncle Bill’s 98th birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Bill!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!!

Anyone who knows much about World War II, and the Holocaust, knows the name Hermann Göring, who was Hitler’s second in command. We know names like Heinrich Himmler, Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Eichmann, and of course, Adolf Hitler. These men were among the worst of the evil Third Reich. Göring created the Gestapo as one of his first acts as a cabinet minister. He ceded it to Heinrich Himmler in 1934. Following the establishment of the Nazi state, Göring amassed power and political capital to become the second most powerful man in Germany. He was appointed commander-in-chief of the Luftwaffe…the Nazi air force, a position he held until the final days of the regime. He was later convicted of his crimes, but before he could be hanged, he committed suicide.

In July 1941, Hermann Göring, writing under instructions from Hitler, had ordered Reinhard Heydrich, SS general and Heinrich Himmler’s number-two man, to submit “as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative, material, and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired final solution of the Jewish question.” This was the plan to murder millions of Jews, Gypsies, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. The meeting to discuss the plan that was later carried out was held on January 20, 1942. These evil men tortured and murdered all those people, with no remorse until the Allies finally put a stop to it all.

Many of the children and other relatives of the Nazi regime agreed with and even carried on the work after the original monsters were dead or imprisoned, but there were some who were so sickened by the things their monster relatives were doing that they shunned it at every turn. One such person was Albert Göring, the younger, and little-known brother of Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, the notorious Nazi leader and war criminal, who was the exact opposite of his older brother. Albert was a Holocaust hero. He worked hard to save hundreds of Jews and political dissidents who were being persecuted by the very regime his brother had helped to create. With great personal risk. Albert was as anti-Nazi as he could be, and he raised his family the same way. Bettina Goering, who was Hermann Göring’s great niece, apparently has similar features to Hermann Göring. That always bothered her. So much so, that she left Germany and immigrated to Santa Fe, New Mexico. She and her brother were so afraid that the “monster” gene was hereditary, that the both chose voluntary sterilization, so they would not bring any more Görings into this world. A drastic measure to be sure, but it was a decision they both knew they could live with.

No two people have the same personalities, not even when they are siblings. Having the same parents often gives siblings some of the same characteristics, but not all of them, and even growing up together does not give siblings the same personalities. I’ve seen that in my own daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce. While they always were, and still are, very good friends, they had different tastes in most things, from boyfriends to musical instruments.

A few days ago, I was thinking about the girls’ color choices for their weddings, and it hit me that those color choices were, in many way, depictive of the differences in their personalities. Both of the girls chose colors from the red palate, but Corrie chose pink (her favorite color to this day), and Amy chose red (not her favorite these days, but it was then). Still, at that time in their lives, those color choices…looking back now, were very much like my girls.

Corrie has “pink tendencies” and Amy has “red tendencies.” Pink seems more reserved, shy even, and more frilly…for lack of a better choice of words. Red seems more flamboyant, more bold. Neither of these tendencies are better or worse than the other, they are just different. A pink personality is more likely to play a romantic instrument, like Corrie’s choice…the violin. Red is more likely to play a more flamboyant instrument, like Amy’s choice…the clarinet. It’s not that either instrument was better or worse than the other, and I loved hearing my girls play both of these instruments, and their choices fit their personalities…and somehow, their color choices fit their personalities too.

I think that both girls choosing colors from the red palate, shows that they had some similarities too. They don’t particularly like controversy, although they can hold their own in any situation. They are both determined, responsible people who don’t give up on things. It’s not that I think that a person’s color choices determine their personalities, but rather that their personalities, to some degree determine their color choices. I think that makes perfect sense.

Corrie still loves all things pink to this day, and I feel like pink describes her personality. Pink is rosy, romantic, and happy, and that is my daughter. Amy now likes blue as her favorite color, and I think that has very much followed along with her life changes. Moving from Wyoming to Washington, because she loves the sea, makes blue a perfect choice. I think maybe Amy was a blue all along. I think of blue as being peaceful, relaxed, and filled with wanderlust. Amy is a lot like my dad’s side of the family, in that she loves to travel to new places. While Amy has always been a blue, she has always had some red tendencies too, and that suits her well.

The ends of the earth…basically the poles…not exactly the most inviting places to visit…much less to cross alone. Still, there are always people who set lofty goals for themselves, despite grave personal risk and hardship. One such man, Børge Ousland, who was born on May 31, 1962, is such a man. Ousland is a Norwegian polar explorer, photographer, and writer, who became the first person in the world to do a solo crossing of the Antarctic. And, that wasn’t his only great accomplishment. On May 4, 1990, Ousland and Erling Kagge became the first explorers ever to reach the North Pole unsupported That trip took them on a 58-day ski trek from Ellesmere Island in Canada, a distance of just over 497 miles.

No stranger to hard work, Ousland started his career as a Norwegian Navy Special Forces Officer with Marinejegerkommandoen. Then, he spent several years working as a deep sea diver for the oil industry in the North Sea. I guess that time would have prepared him for the conditions the men would face in a trek to the North Pole. They trip must have sparked something in Ousland, because in 1994, he made the first solo and unsupported journey to the North Pole from Cape Arktichevsky in Russia. Most of us wouldn’t even go once, much less multiple times.

For Ousland, even that wasn’t enough. Between November 15, 1996 and January 17, 1997, Ousland became the first in the world to do an unsupported solo crossing of the Antarctic. In that trip, Ousland traveled 1,864 miles from the edge of the Ronne Ice Shelf to the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf…completely alone. Ousland skied the long journey, with kite assistance. He holds the record for the fastest unsupported journey to the South Pole…taking just 34 days.

On January 22, 2006, together with Mike Horn he began a journey to the North Pole in full Arctic night. The trip was successfully concluded on March 23, 2006. Then, in September 2010, Ousland’s team aboard “The Northern Passage” completed the circumnavigation of the North Pole. A Russian team aboard the “Peter I” achieved the same feat in that season. These were the first recorded instances of the circumnavigation of the North Pole without an icebreaker. In December 2011, Ousland traversed Antarctica to the South Pole for the centennial celebration of the first expedition to reach the Pole.

Ousland loved the “ends of the earth” so much that the next logical step was to be married at the North Pole, which he did in 2012. He and Hege Rogeberg tied the knot at the Geographic North Pole, having been flown in by helicopter with “20 or 30 people” to celebrate with them. The wedding was held according to Lutheran wedding custom, with a pastor, candles, and a cross made of skies. Børge was dressed in national Norwegian dress. The bride, Hege was dressed in a warm, long, white dress. The couple flew in from Longyearbyen, Svalbard to Barneo Ice Station where they boarded the Russian MI-8 helicopter to the North Pole. The proceedings lasted 30 minutes. After the ceremony champagne was served together with a colorful fireworks display. The adventurer and his wife now have three daughters…Max, Eva-Liv, and Ingebjorg.

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