Family

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Anyone who has been around very long knows what a fire hydrant is. Before the fire hydrant, water ad to be transported to a fire. If there was a water source nearby, they would often use a bucket brigade, but if not they had to try to bring it in by wagon. Bucket brigades weren’t very efficient, but they were all they had at the time. Firefighters stood in a line between the fire and the source of water and passed buckets along, one by one until the fire was extinguished. All too often, even in the cities, the structure burned to the ground because the source of water was simply too far away to save it. Finally, when city water became a thing, someone came up with the idea of a fire hydrant. This invention has worked so well, that it has saved untold numbers of lives and structures. These days there is a fire hydrant on just about every block. In fact, they are so common that we really don’t notice them at all.

Credit for the invention of the fire hydrant often goes to Frederick Graff Sr, who invented the first pillar fire hydrant in 1801, however fire hydrants were in place before that. The main reason that the credit has gone to Graff is that the name of the real inventor has been lost. We know that it was invented in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. That said, it must have been right before Graff’s version, which is said to have been invented in 1801. The patent with the name of the true inventor was destroyed, but just how that happened is unknown. There are stories of fire, floods, and even an argument that caused the destruction of them. Whatever happened, we will never really know the truth on this. However, we do know for a fact that Graff created the first pillar fire hydrant in 1801, which is the reason why he receives credit for it today.

We owe a debt of gratitude to the inventor of the fire hydrant, whoever he may be, but we have no idea who to credit for it. I find it very strange that even the story of how the patent was lost is a mystery. It almost seems like it has been hidden for a specific purpose. It makes me wonder if the two men fought over who was the real inventor. Maybe they even worked on it together. Since both are now gone, we can’t even ask. The whole matter feels unreal, but we are left with the mystery anyway. Over the years styles and designs of hydrants have varied by country, state, and city, but the basic design is still the same. It pulls water from the underground source and connects it to the firefighters hose so water can be sprayed on the fire to put out the fire.

My husband, Bob Schulenberg is truly the love of my life. God blessed me with my husband while I was still in high school. I know I’m not the only person ever to meet their future spouse in high school, High School Sweethearts can be a common term among married couples, and in fact, I personally know a number of just such couples. Our meeting was that type exactly, however. While I was still in high school, Bob wasn’t, and we attended different high schools anyway, so it wouldn’t have been that type of romance exactly…even though the schools were in the same town of Casper, Wyoming, we might never have met even if he was still in high school. No, it was God’s plan…all the way, and that makes it all the more wonderful.

As each year passes, I am more and more amazed at the number of years we have been married. At 18, you can barely consider age 50, much less fathom 46 years of marriage to this 20 year old man to whom you have just said, “I do.” We knew nothing of the world. We were barely past childhood ourselves. In fact, I can’t believe how young we looked back then…like babies. Nevertheless, God blessed me with the perfect man for me. We are largely opposites, but they say that opposites attract. I think that’s true for the most part. There are interests, beliefs, and traits that we have in common, and they are necessary, because to love someone you must also have things in common with them. I feel very blessed to have things in Common with Bob and things where we are different too. We complete each other, and that really is awesome.

Now that we have started a new chapter in our lives, namely, retirement, we have even more option to spread our wings and enjoy our new lives. Retirement is a very different time in a marriage. Many people wonder if they will be able to stand each other, because suddenly they are spending so much time together. I don’t know about other couples, but Bob and I get along very well, even though we are spending a lot more time together. Of course, the truth is we like each other. I mean, we love each other, but we also like each other. We are best friends. If a couple in a marriage aren’t friends, I think they are already in trouble. A great marriage starts out as a good friendship. I am so privileged to be married to my best friend all these years. Happy 46th anniversary to the best husband in the whole world!! I love you Bob!!

Three out of four years, my granddaughter, Shai Royce doesn’t get a real birthday. That’s because her real birthday only happens once every four years. Of course, that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t get a birthday celebration, because she does. Shai’s birthday is as special as she is, and that needs to be celebrated. The funny thing about it is that people don’t know exactly when to do that. Because my grandson, Shai’s cousin Chris Petersen was born the day before she was, we have always celebrated her nano-birthday on March 1, even if it is the wedding anniversary of her grandparents, my husband Bob and me. Chris and Shai are part of a cluster of birthdays and one anniversary, because Chris was born on my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg’s birthday. Not every Leap Day Baby calls the off years a nano-birthday. In reality, I made that up. You see, the birthday has to exist…right? It is the nano-second between 11:59pm on February 28th and 12:00am on March 1st…hence the nano-birthday. Technically, the Leap Day Baby can celebrate their nano-birthday on February 28, March 1st, or both, and when she turned 4 (16) she was able to get her driver’s license a day early, because that is just how the DMV did it. We have a lot of fun with the Leap Day Birthday/Nano-Birthday that we have, as I think most people who have or know someone who has that birthday do.

Shai is a very social person, and is always the life of the party. She gets that from her dad, Travis Royce. They can both walk into a room and instantly have friends to talk to…even if they didn’t know anyone before. They have simply never met a stranger. Her brother, Caalab is that way too. Her mom is more like her grandma…knowing that it can sometimes get too “peopley” out there. I think Caalab’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster is more my Amy and me, but I could be wrong. It takes all kinds to make life happy, and Shai’s family all live in harmony and get along very well.

Shai is a personal lines account manager at Rice Insurance, LLC, where her mom, Amy also works. They are both well respected in the insurance industry, and I guess I can take a little credit for that, since I gave both of them their start in insurance. Nevertheless, you can hire someone to work in insurance, but you cannot make it their niche. That is something they must decide for themselves, or as is the case with my daughter and granddaughter, have insurance in your blood. It is an industry that has served them both well, and that makes me very happy. Today is Shai’s 25th birthday, or in real years, it’s her 6¼ birthday. She could just be the youngest insurance agent in history, unless there is another Leap Day Baby who is an insurance agent. Happy nano-birthday Shai!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Christopher Petersen became my grandson 25 years ago today. He was the baby that changed my title from mom to grandmother. It amazes me that it has been a quarter of a century already. So much has changed, and yet it seems like it was just yesterday. From the wide-eyed little boy to the dad he is now…he has blessed us along the way, and I know that the future will be wonderful too. Chris and his fiancée, Karen have two beautiful children, Cambree and Caysen. Their life is so blessed, and that makes me so happy for them.

When I think of the little boy Chris was and how excited he was to get a brother of his own. I think Chris liked babies even then, or maybe it was because his brother, Josh was his brother. Chris wanted to help and couldn’t wait until Josh could play. That kind of kid love has remained. He still loves the playtime he has with his babies. Chris is patient and fun-loving, and that makes the kids love hanging with Daddy. Chris and Karen have that in common. They both love kids, and kid play, and they totally celebrate their family time. It makes for such a fun home, filled with lots of giggles and smiles. Cambree loves being with her daddy when he isn’t working, and Caysen is already his daddy’s snuggler whenever he gets the chance. Together, Chris and Karen are great parents, and I am so proud of them.

Chris works hard at his job at Craves, where he is a manager. His job is his means to a better life for his family, but the reality is that his family is what it’s all about. Nothing is more important than his family, and that is the way it should be. Kids grow up so fast, which is more and more evident to me when I realize that Chris is 25 years old. His kids will be the same way for him…growing up rapidly, and right before our eyes. It seems impossible that that Chris would have two kids already, but he does, and of course, with Cambree’s arrival, I passed another milestone…great grandma. I could say that it will be a long time before I become a great great grandma, but then I won’t because I know how quickly those years can fly by. I’m glad that Chris and Karen are treasuring each and every day with their babies, because they really do grow us so quickly. Today is Chris’ 25th birthday. Happy birthday Chris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg lived a long life. The last five years were spent in Shepherd of the Valley Care Center with Alzheimer’s Disease. Her time at Shepherd was far from sad and miserable, as many people would have expected. Mom lived in her own little world, as Alzheimer’s patients do toward the end of the disease, and I’m here to tell you that her world was quite interesting. Her stories and her life in the past were very vivid in her mind, and she would happily tell those who would listen, all about it. I was one of the privileged few who got to hear all or most of her stories.

Mom did live an interesting life for sure. From her early childhood living in a sheep wagon in Montana, while her dad, Robert Knox tended the sheep; to her married years in Wyoming, raising her six children, Marlyce Schulenberg (who passed away in 1989), Debbie Cook, Bob Schulenberg, Jennifer Parmely, Brenda Schulenberg, and Ron Schulenberg; there was never a dull moment. She kept busy knitting, crocheting, sewing, canning, or in her later years, thinking she was still doing these things. There were certain things that she always thought were very cool in her life. Birthdays were always an important thing, and she loved the fact that she shared her with her first great grandson, Chris Petersen. Just like her mother before her got to share her birthday with her great granddaughter, Corrie Petersen, who is Chris’ mom. Those things were considered a “big deal” to her.

While she was at the nursing home, my mother-in-law was really quite the comedian. She would tell us things like she made the dinner, and that she did the laundry and the dishes. She was completely convinced that these things were true. Of course, no one argued the point with her either. What good would that have done? Her Alzheimer’s convinced her that she was right, and that was ok. She felt useful, and that was all she ever wanted. My mother-in-law always loved doing things for people. Her sweaters and afghans were stunning and meticulous. She spent so many years knitting and crocheting, that I’m sure she could do both in her sleep. I think if she made a mistake, she would know it for sure. She could probably locate the mistake and fix it without waking up. She just knew every stitch that well. It makes me sad that her hands are stilled now, but I know that she is in a better place, and she has her full memory now too. Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Mom. We love and miss you very much.

As the world first began to be settled, the Hawaiian Islands were discovered, and in approximately 400AD Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands traveled the 2000 miles distance to Hawaii’s Big Island in canoes. To get to Hawaii, they navigated by the sun and stars, reading the winds, currents, and seabirds’ flight. The Polynesians sailed across the open ocean in great double-hulled canoes. The Polynesians brought with them items essential to their survival, including pigs, dogs, and chickens; the roots of kalo (a root vegetable and one of the most complex carbohydrates on the planet) and sweet potato; the seeds and saplings of coconut, banana, sugar cane, and other edible and medicinal plants. Polynesians were well-established on the islands when Polynesians from the Society Islands arrived in Hawaii. These newcomers became the new rulers of Hawaii. After a time of voyaging back and forth between the Society Islands and the Hawaiian Archipelago, contact with southern Polynesia ceased. During the 400 years of isolation that followed, a unique Hawaiian culture developed. That is similar to what happened when the pilgrims came to the new world…present-day United States. Once away from the culture one comes from, new ideas and new skills begin to form.

The Hawaiian people were highly skilled farmers and fishermen, who lived in small communities ruled by chieftains who battled one another for territory. The new Hawaiian culture was a highly stratified society with strictly maintained classes of people. The chiefs headed the social pyramid and ruled over the land. The highest class, the Kahuna (professionals) were highly regarded and sometimes feared, they were experts on religious ritual or specialists in canoe-building, herbal medicine, and healing. The middle class, the maka`ainana (commoners) farmed, fished, built walls, houses, and fishponds…and paid taxes to the paramount chiefs and his chiefs. Kauwa, the lowest class, were outcasts or slaves. I can’t say that the class society was fair, because it really wasn’t, but many societies of that era were ruled in that way, and in reality, this class society still exists…maybe with slight differences, but it still exists.

In many ways, the culture was quite oppressive, especially to women. A system of laws known as Kanawai enforced Hawaii’s social order. Certain people, places, things, and times were considered sacred. Being near them was kapu, or forbidden except to a very privileged few. Women ate apart from men and were restricted from eating pork, coconuts, bananas, or a variety of other foods. Kapu regulated fishing, planting, and the harvesting of other resources, thus ensuring their conservation. Any breaking of kapu disturbed the stability of society, and the punishment for breaking this law was usually death.

Still, even with the strict laws, village life was rich and interesting. Hawaiians fished in coastal waters and collected shellfish, seaweed, and salt along the shore. They raised pigs, dogs, and chickens and harvested sweet potatoes, kalo, and other crops. Men pounded kalo into poi, which is the staple food of Hawaiians, while women beat the inner bark of wauke (paper mulberry) into kapa (bark cloth). The sounds of taro pounding and kapa beating were rhythmical signatures of Hawaiian village life. That changed dramatically after Captain James Cook arrived in 1778 and introduced the rest of the world to Hawaii. Cook, who named the islands after the Earl of Sandwich, returned a year later and was killed in a confrontation with Hawaiians at Kealakekua Bay, on Hawaii’s Big Island. Still his impact on the state of Hawaii remains.

My grandma, Hattie Byer was the only grandmother I had while growing up, because my dad’s parents passed before and shortly after I was born. Grandma was a multi-faceted person, probably by necessity. She and my grandpa, George Byer had nine children…seven girls and two boys. As a stay-at-home mom, grandma was the main disciplinarian in the family. Grandpa worked long hours, and while he could discipline the kids, he truly had a soft heart, and I think it pained him when he had to impose discipline on his kids. I think that happens a lot. In my family, I was the disciplinarian too. My mom, Collene Spencer has told me of some of the times she got on the wrong side of her mother, with negative consequences. Lets just say that when your brother is getting in trouble, you best stay out of it, because sassing your mom is never a good idea.

Grandma was also the family chef. She made the best of so many dishes. Her Potato Pancakes have never been beaten, and yes, I’m biased, but so is every other person who has ever had them. Her Potato Milk Soup was heavenly, and her Oyster Stew was loved by many. Of course, it was my grandmother’s good cooking that created all the good cooks in the family. She taught her girls, and her boys too, to cook and they were and are still very good cooks. They don’t make exotic dishes, they make good old fashioned “Comfort Food,” and nobody makes it better than they do. Grandma could make a great mean out of almost nothing, and during the Great Depression, that is just what she did, as many a hungry guest can attest. Grandma always had extras at the table in those years. People instinctively knew where they could go to be welcomed to dine at a moment’s notice. None were turned away, and all ate to their fill.

My grandmother was a woman of small stature, just 5′ in her tall days. I’m not sure where her height came from, because her sisters were certainly much taller than the was. Since I have no idea how tall her mother, or grandmothers were, I guess it might be quite normal for her to be short. Still I have often wondered how she
ended up so short. By the time I really gave much thought to her height, she had shrunk some, and probably stood 4’10” tall…or short, as it were. She didn’t need to be real tall to catch Grandpa’s eye, however. He was in love almost immediately. Grandpa stood over 6′ tall, so there was quite a contrast there, but they always made a sweet couple, and Grandpa was always proud of his beautiful wife. Grandma was a multi-faceted person, who could handle many things, and we have all always been very proud of her too. Today would have been Grandma Byer’s 112th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandma. I know you and Grandpa are having a wonderful celebration. We love and miss you very much.

Any kind of explosive can lead to danger. There are some industries that use explosives in their daily activities, and for the most part, all is well and people are safe. Nevertheless, there are those few situations, which always seem like they are so common, when they make the news. In reality, they are probably very rare, although I can’t say that for sure. It just seems to me that if these explosions were common, we would find a different way of doing things.

On the night of February 24, 1922, in McCook, Illinois, a powder magazine exploded in a stone quarry. The quarry at McCook was on the outskirts of Chicago. The the explosion occurred, it shook the entire city. I know that explosions can be felt for miles and miles, and can even show up on seismometers. Still, Chicago is a big city. It seems odd to think that such a big city could feel the effects of an explosion, but that was just the beginning. Windows were shattered in the south and the west portions of the city shortly before 9:30pm. People began calling the emergency numbers and calling newspapers to find out where the explosion had occurred and how many people had been killed. It seemed that no one knew at first, but soon it became obvious. An inquiry by The Associated Press to Indianapolis soon brought a bulletin from LaFayette, Indiana, that the explosion had occurred at McCook, Illinois.

With that information they were able to find out within a few minutes that there had been an accident at the quarry which is situated in a rather secluded spot. It was found that no one had been killed, but early reports had no explanation as to how it occurred. The first definite report of the blast reached a Monon railroad signal tower at Dyer, Indiana. It was then relayed to the Monon dispatcher at LaFayette, before it came back to Chicago over The Associated Press wire.

The McCook quarry has had a long history problems that have been the direct result of quarry blasting. The quarries need to blast for loosen up the stone, but the effects can be devastating, even causing train derailments at times. The public has at times complained about the damages, but there didn’t seem to be much that could be done about it. Pictures of cracked walls and broken windows have been brought in for emphasis. I guess that until someone comes u with a better way to get the rock out of the quarry, the city will be stuck with the problem for the foreseeable future.

My grand niece, Christina Masterson is a dental hygienist by trade, who has been promoted to assistant office manager. As most of us know, 2020 was a tough year on many businesses, and dentists were among the hardest hit. I can’t tell you how many times my own cleanings have had to be rescheduled throughout the year. Of course, I am one person who had to be rescheduled, but for people in the field, like Christina, it was a complete shutdown for 6 to 8 weeks in March, due to Covid-19. Thankfully, Christina’s skills allowed her to pick up a few hours at an emergency dental clinic during those weeks. When the lockdown was ended, Christina wasn’t sure where things would stand for her. She was working at another office because her old office had closed, but she wasn’t really happy there. When her old office opened up again, they asked her to come back, and she was delighted. She had been praying for another job to open up for her, and her old office was her answer to prayer.

The pandemic left many people wondering if they would have a job to come back to. Christina’s strong faith in God helped her to get through these very tough times. Tough times don’t necessarily build faith, but if you have faith, you can get through the tough times. I would hate to face the tough times without God, and I’m sure Christina feels the same way. I think there were a lot of people who found themselves in a make or break time with their faith. Churches were closed, and depression set in with a lot of people. I am so thankful that Christina had already begun to cement her relationship with God before the pandemic hit. It gave her a head-start on her faith in a time when she needed it most. Now that things are improving, she finds herself in a really good place.

Now that things are opening up again, Christina has decided to focus on herself a little bit. The Covid lockdowns put a lot of people in an over-eating-under-exercising mode for a time. Many people found that as things opened up, their clothes didn’t fit like they used too. Now I don’t know if Christina put on any weight, but like many of us, she needed to get back to working out. So, Christina set herself to becoming the new and improved Christina. She joined a gym, started working out on a regular basis, and she started eating healthier and juicing. Christina has always stayed in pretty good shape, but I’m sure she is feeling so much better these days. Things in her life are lining up again, and 2021 is going to be a great year. Today is Christina’s 25th birthday. Happy birthday Christina!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Some birthdays are different beyond anything we could have ever imagined. That is the kind of birthday my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg is having this year. Never in a million years did he expect to be a widower at the age of 53, but that is exactly where he finds himself, and his 13 year old son, Tucker, who also lost his mom. While Ron’s current situation is devastating, I am very proud of how he is handling it and the sadness that comes and go with both Ron and Tucker. While this year started it in the worst possible way, I pray that the rest of the year will get better. I know that his wife, Rachel would want Ron and Tucker, as well as her other children, Cassie and Riley, to be happy in life…as hard as that seems right now.

With Rachel’s passing came other changes for Ron. He had always worked nights, but with a 13 year old at home, he needed to change that to days, so that is what he did. It is a big change for him. He preferred the night shift, but it was important for Tucker, and that is all that matters now. Another change is that Ron is now the “Chief cook and bottle washer,” so to speak. He can cook, but Rachel was a phenomenal cook…a hard act to follow. I believe that Ron with find his own rhythm and cooking style. Tucker likes most of what he cooks now, and they will find things together that they like. Who knows, maybe Tucker will find some good recipes too.

We are all so thankful that Tucker has his dad, who adopted him on June 27, 2019. Tucker is not alone now. He has his dad to help him get through such a sad time in his life. And Tucker is helping his dad too. They depend on each other now, and work together to get through this. When I think of the terrible loneliness that happens after such a loss, it tears at my heart that these guys are going through it I know that in time, there will be less pain, but right now, it is so strong and we have no way to ease their pain. The future will be different than they every planned for it to be, but they will get through it and we as a family will help them to get through it. Today is the first birthday Ron has had without Rachel in ten years, and that will make it a hard day, but I pray that he knows how much Rachel loved him, and that she wants the best for him and her children. She is in Heaven now, but her memory will always live on in our spirits. I pray that Ron can find some measure of happiness today too. Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy birthday Ron!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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