Caryn

Another fun memory I have of going to Forsyth, Montana to visit my husband’s grandparents, is the old swimmin’ hole. I know, anyone who has ever had family that lived on a ranch in the country, might have memories of the swimmin’ hole too, or the pond, or the creek or river, but my memory of it is a little different. As I told you yesterday, my husband’s grandfather was a bit of a pack rat, and he simply hated to throw things away. Someone might find a use for it at some point. Or it simply might not be broken. No matter, he would just keep it around until he found a use for it. Such was the story behind the old swimmin’ hole.

There might have been a pond somewhere on their property, and I know there was a big watering trough for the cows, but who would ever want to cool off there, right. At that time, there were a number of little kids in the family, my girls being two of them, and summer in Montana can be really hot! Now, imagine two little girls, cranky because of the heat, and no real way to cool them off…because there was no air conditioning at Grandma’s house…they still had an outhouse, so air conditioning was not a high priority. Well, you get the picture.

So, Grandpa’s solution was an old bathtub in the front yard. He didn’t figure the adults really needed to cool off, but those little kids needed a wading pool, and since he had the bathtub, there was no reason to go spend good money on a cheap wading pool. He would just bring the hose around and fill up that bathtub, and presto…you had a wading pool. And they lived out in the country, and of course the kids are little anyway, so who needs a bathing suit. Undies and water. That’s all you need. The girls were set, and no longer cranky…problem solved.

When my girls were little, we made sure that they got to know their family in Forsyth, Montana by taking a trip up there every summer. Grandma and Grandpa owned a ranch up there, and we would stay at their house. Their ranch was unique to say the least. Grandpa was a bit of a pack rat, and there was always a variety of interesting things to be found on their place. My girls had a wonderful time exploring.

Going to visits Grandma and Grandpa was always a treat. Coffee with real cream, Strawberry Rhubarb jam on our toast, plenty of milk, fresh from the cows, fresh eggs from the chickens. It was wonderful to be out there, away from the hustle and bustle of home. We could just relax and play cards, which we did for hours on end, because that was what Grandpa most enjoyed doing, and he was ruthless at it, which is why I always wanted to be his partner.

But, the funniest memory I have of those early visits when my girl were young, is their first…and subsequent encounters with the chickens and rooster. I will never forget it and can very clearly see it in my mind. They took one look at those chickens, and started running after them, trying to catch them. Ha Ha Ha Ha, it was hilarious. They ran round and round, and I’m told that normally, the rooster would have gone after them, but he just took it all in stride, and ran. The adults laughed until our sides ached, and tears poured down our faces.

Grandma and Grandpa have been gone for a long time now, but those memories will live in my heart forever. They were the sweetest grandparents a girl could ever marry into.

We’ve all done it. Set ourselves a goal, moved successfully toward it, only to slip up along the way, and tell ourselves that it’s ok, because no one knows we slipped up. That is true enough, but we know…don’t we? That still might seem like no big deal, except humans tend to be a gullible sort, especially when it comes to allowing ourselves to do something that we want to do, even though we know it is not good for us. So, having convinced ourselves that no one knows that we slipped up, and we aren’t going to let it happen again…just this once.

Right…remember, we are talking about gullible humans. We may not be gullible in the sense of believing anything we are told, but when it comes to believing ourselves, well that’s a different story. How many times have we started out saying, “Well, I won’t work out today, and I’ll get right back on it tomorrow”, but somehow tomorrow never comes. Soon, all thought of success in our goal is gone. Then, disgust and self loathing set in. Pretty soon we figure we don’t deserve to succeed anyway. We are about as low as we can go.

Then, true to the human spirit, most of us wake up. We look the situation over and assess the damage. Then we get back on track and start working toward our goal again, a little worse for wear, and hopefully a whole lot wiser. And if we learn not to lie to ourselves, maybe with a chance of reaching that goal.

When I was a kid, the summertime would bring hours of playing outdoors. All the neighborhood kids would be involved. We didn’t watch a lot of television, and video games didn’t exist. We used our imaginations, coming up with crazy games like “ditch it” in which we would all play in the yard, until a car came up the street. The first person to see it would yell “ditch it” and everyone would drop on the grass. This game was always played after dark, so the cars couldn’t “see” us when we dropped to the ground. The idea was that the cars were obviously the “bad guys” and we were the “good guys”. Of course, we had no idea what the “bad guys” had done, because we had never really thought the game through to figure that out.

We would play “hide and seek” for hours on end. When you live in a neighborhood fille with kids, there were always enough kids to make the game interesting. An unusual thing in our neighborhood, was an unusual amount of families with all girls. There must have been 4 or 5 families with all girls, and at least 3 more with mostly girls, so we had plenty of people to play house, jacks, jump rope, and other girl games. The kids simply dominated the block all summer.

Because we lived in a different time, you could play outside well after dark, and your parents didn’t have to give it a second thought. We were usually allowed to play outside until 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm. There just wasn’t anything to worry about. When I think back on that time, I feel sad, in a way, because our children today can’t safely play outside late at night, because you just don’t know who is out there.

While watching the news concerning the earthquake in Japan, and the ensuing tsunami in Japan, Hawaii, and the US west coast this week, I am once again shocked and saddened by the chances people take. The people is Japan had virtually no warning, and so they couldn’t prepare for the tragic events that happened that awful day, but the man that was swept out to sea in California while taking pictures of the waves, knew the chance he was taking.

I’m quite sure that if the people in Japan had been able to get away, they would have. There simply wasn’t time, and as a result, many lives were unavoidably lost. My heart goes out to everyone affected by this tragedy. Those left behind have a monumental job ahead of them to rebuild in the midst of so much grief.

The people in Hawaii and the US west coast, had enough warning, however, and were told to stay away from the coast line. So why do we feel the need to go out there and get pictures of the event, simply to say we were there. My mind wanders to the thoughts going through the mind of that poor man being swept out to sea, knowing that his impending death was due entirely to his own foolish choices. Obviously, if he could do it all over again, knowing what he now knows, he would literally run in the opposite direction. I’m sure he thought of his loved ones toward the end, with much regret for putting them in a position of such grief. I know it was not his intent to end up this way, but the love of the all elusive historic photo to document the day, overtook his good sense concerning his own safety.

As I watched the footage, I saw a wave coming in to a Santa Cruz, California marina, and hitting the boats parked there. People were walking on the docks there! It was unbelievable! The reporter was saying that these people had been told not to be there, but once again the thought that “it won’t happen to me” kicked in and curiosity won out. Even if you aren’t swept away, getting caught between two colliding boats would take the same toll. People, please…think of your loved ones, if you can’t think of yourself. Please don’t take the risk. It isn’t worth it.

I suppose my idea of life in the fast lane might seem very different from most people’s idea of it. When most people envision that statement, they think of rushing out to parties, clubs, dances, and other such social events. For me, life in the fast lane means a life filled with family, work, and responsibility. It means meeting yourself coming and going, because there is too little time in the day. It means staying up late in order to get the things done that didn’t get done during the rest of the day. It means using a little bit more gas, because I make extra trips to the homes of family who need my assistance. It means keeping my cell phone on and with me at all times, so that if I get that call saying that someone has fallen, I can go to them…even at 3:00 in the morning.

Sometimes I get weary, I’ll admit that, but I can’t say I would change what my life is. There is something to be said for being needed. It is rewarding to know that because of what you do, the life of another is made easier and better. Whether it is helping with my grandchildren or my mom and my in-laws, I know that what I do gives comfort and peace of mind. I love my family, and I enjoy nothing more than spending time with them, in any capacity.

Yes, I lead a very busy life. I work, walk, care for others, blog, Facebook, Twitter, bowl, read, spend time with family…basically I live my life. Yes, it is life in the fast lane, but I guess that is the only way to get into my life, everything I want most to have in it, and that is ok by me.

My dad joined the Army Air Force in March of 1943. The Army Air Force was a branch of the service that was pretty much unique to its time, and no longer exists today. Dad was trained at Miami Beach, Florida, Gulfport, Mississippi, and Dyersburg, Tennessee. He was then stationed at the 8th Air Force Bomber Station at Great Ashfield, Suffolk, England as a member of the 385th Bomber Group for the next 8 ½ months. Dad was the top turret gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress and also served as the flight engineer. At the time of his discharge, he had reached the rank of Staff Sergeant.

During his service, he took part in two major aerial engagements including the D-Day attack on Normandy and the England-Africa shuttle bombing of the Messerschmitt aircraft factories in Regensburg. He was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross, signifying extraordinary achievement, courage, coolness and skill while participating is numerous bombing attacks on military and industrial targets in Germany and installations of the enemy ahead of the advancing Allied Armies in Western Europe, Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters, signifying his shooting down 4 German fighter planes, and two gold stars, signifying his part in two aerial engagements.

Another notable experience that my dad had during his career was when the plane was coming back to base after a bombing run, and the landing gear would not come down. My dad then hung upside down in the open bomb bay doors area, while being held onto by several men, and hand cranked the gear down, getting it locked just moments before the landing.

My dad rarely spoke of the war, and never thought of himself as a hero, but I know better, as did, I’m sure, the men he saved by making sure they could land safely. I’m so proud of you Dad!! I love and miss you very much!!

Today I went to the funeral of a long time friend of ours. It’s strange that you can know someone for a long time, and yet be quite shocked at the things you didn’t know about them. Marge was 90 years old when she went home, but she just never seemed that old. She was always full of life and very feisty. Everyone who knew her…loved her.

So the new things I learned about her today, is that she was in the Navy and this little tiny woman, who was no bigger than a minute, was trained as a mechanic in the Navy, and served as a mechanic in Hawaii. I can no more imagine her as a mechanic than I can imagine that I can sprout wings. I was shocked and amazed.

Now her love for bowling, gambling, bingo, and cards, were things just about everyone knew about Marge. In fact the bowling alley is where I first came to know Marge. She seemed always to be there. She did bowl a lot!! When she wasn’t doing the other 3 things she loved to do.

Another thing I didn’t know, and found very interesting, is that she moved to Casper, Wyoming by looking on a map when she decided she wanted to move out West. She came here by herself, made a life for herself, got married, and stayed. That is amazing. What great courage that shows. Most women would never even consider such a thing, and yet Marge not only considered it, but made it happen.

Isn’t it odd how you can know someone, and not really know them. Yes, she was an amazing lady! And many, many people were blessed to have known her. And now she lives with Jesus, and we will see her again. So good bye for now Marge, til we all meet again.

My sisters and I have always loved a good surprise, especially when it came to my parents. When we were kids, Mom and Dad always made sure we had ways to get gifts for our sisters, etc. When I was about 13, the neighbor down the street, who owned a beauty shop, asked me if I would clean it and wash the towels every Saturday. I accepted, and suddenly had my first job.

When Christmas came that year, I had enough money, with what my sisters were able to put in, to buy my parents a nice 4 slice toaster, which our family really needed, and since it was a hot new item, many people didn’t have yet. So, Christmas morning, after all the gifts had been opened, and my parents had received the little school craft gifts from us, and had been told that the big box in the back was going somewhere else. Mom said, “Well, Merry Christmas everyone.” My sisters had agreed that I would hand them the gift, since I had put in the most money. So, I got up and handed them the gift. They looked at us in stunned silence and opened the gift. Then, came the greatest satisfaction a gift giver can receive…their mouths dropped open in pleased shock, and of course, my mom cried. We always knew how pleased she was, because she cried.

Through the years we have given Mom and Dad other surprises. One of the most fun times we had was for their 25th Anniversary. We went together and bought them new living room furniture and had it delivered while they were at the store. When they walked in, their mouths dropped open in total shock. They couldn’t believe we had pulled that off. And of course, Mom cried. It was great fun.

Probably the best surprise gift we gave them, however, was for their 50th Anniversary. We totally shocked them with a cruise to Alaska. They had always wanted to go to Alaska, but weren’t even remotely expecting a cruise. It was probably the greatest gift we could have given them. They had an amazing time. And that probably surprised them the most. They had never considered taking a cruise, and afterwards they wondered why they hadn’t.

Surprises can be so much fun and such a great blessing to the recipient, but in reality, they are at least as much fun for the giver. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I will always have the memory of the shocked…pleased…amazed…happy faces over something I have given them.

When I was a little girl, we had the most amazing German Shepherd dog ever. His name was King…for short. My parents actually named him LarKing Raesuekayal Vonlished. I can’t say for sure that I spelled that correctly, but if you sound it out, you will come pretty close to the correct pronunciation of his name. King was named after all for my sisters and me. Middle names were used for the three older girls, and the first part of the first name on my younger two sisters. Mom and Dad wanted his name to have special meaning. And it always has.

King was just about the greatest dog ever. When we were little he gave us girls “horsey” rides, and seemed to love doing it. He was very loving. King loved having the neighborhood kids come in to play, but we did have to tell them not to climb the fence without one of us girls there. Dad trained him not to bite obviously, but even more, you could put your arm in his mouth, and he would never even let his teeth touch your arm. But when it came to protecting his family, watch out. He wouldn’t have to bite…his bark was usually enough. He did bite one time, when a neighborhood boy was throwing rocks at him…boy was he in trouble with his mom when she found out. She wouldn’t even let the police issue any kind of ticket or warning, of course there was the required quarantine, but that was all.

The funniest thing King ever did though, was one time when my mom’s dad came over for a visit. Mom was on the phone when Grandpa knocked on the door. She motioned him to come in, and went on with her conversation. A few minutes later, she realized that he hadn’t come in. Thinking that he hadn’t heard, she motioned again. Then, she realized what the problem was. King was “guarding” the door. She said, “King, you let him in!!” She said it was the only time she had seen a dog smile. King sheepishly looked away, with a grin on his face, and my grandfather was able to come inside. I really miss that dog!!

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