Family

A couple of weeks ago, my granddaughter, Shai was asked to bowl on our Monday night league. She decided to, even though she had only bowled two other times in her life, and really didn’t know how. Like most of us, she thought there was nothing to it. Last week on her first week as a regular bowler, she began to have second thoughts and a bad case of nerves. She didn’t know how to do the approach, and nothing felt right. To top it off, she was faced with all the other bowlers, who have bowled for years. The night couldn’t have been much worse for her, and I couldn’t help her, even though I am a trained coach, because we were both bowling, and there simply wasn’t enough time. Shai set an average of 58, and by the end of the evening, she was convinced that this was a mistake, and she could never be a good bowler.

I promised her it would get better, and later in the week, I made plans to take her bowling so I would have time to coach her. Shai’s friend, Sterling was going to be a substitute on the league, so she came along. The first thing I told the girls was that they would be doing an approach, because it is the correct way to bowl, and the best way to improve  quickly. There were some very funny moments, such as sliding on the wrong foot, and gutter balls that barely got past the foul line first, but they stuck with it, and in the very short hour that we had to get this lined out, the girls made great strides. Of course, the real test of our success would be the following week…this week.

The girls were nervous, but I assured them that they would do great. I reminded them that I didn’t want to see any bowling with no approach. They assured me that they would bowl correctly. It was time for the real test. I was glad that the girls were bowling next to each other. There is still comfort in having a friend nearby. They both did great. No, they didn’t break 100, but they had decent games. Shai went from having a 176 series the first week to having a 244 series this week, and while Sterling didn’t bowl last week, she had a 233 series this week. Last week, Shai was convinced that she didn’t like bowling. When I asked her how she felt this week, she said it was fun. All the seasoned bowlers made the girls feel welcome, both last week and this week, but the difference is that this week, Shai felt more like a real bowler. Here comes the next bowling generation.



With Summer’s heat and lack of rain,
Trees and grass dried on our mountain’s terrain.

As Fall approached, with relief we did sigh,
Maybe the fire threat had passed us by.

September 9th would bring to pass
The fire that would take what lay in its path

We worried and watched…helplessly
As firefighters and planes fought…desperately

To save the mountain, the cabins and trees
All most of us could do was get down on our knees

And pray with all the faith that we had
For minimal losses and damage not too bad

By the time the fire would be contained
There would more than 15,000 acres that were fire stained

Spring will arrive bringing grasses green
The burn line will no longer the hillside stain
And the skeletal trees will be the only evidence to remain

My Uncle Elmer died in 1981. Most of his nieces and nephews never got a chance to know him very well. The other day, his son, Elmer was telling me some of the stories of his dad’s childhood, and the mischief he and his 2 brothers got into. This story reminds me a little bit of some of the MASH episodes. Having had no brothers myself, I didn’t really understand the inner workings of the minds of three brothers who were egging each other on. The story Elmer told, goes like this…

One day Uncle Elmer was plowing with an old tractor at his dad’s place. His dad went out to use the outhouse, which is what they used back then. That is when Uncle Elmer and his brother Les got an idea. Uncle Elmer drove the tractor right up by the outhouse. His brother Les hit the outhouse with a 2×4 as Uncle Elmer revved up the engine. Their dad came running out of the outhouse with his pants down around his ankles and the Montgomery Ward’s catalog in hand. Their dad wasn’t very happy with them, but he was relieved that the outhouse made it through whole ordeal in good shape.

Of course, not many of us knew Elmer’s grandfather, but he was quite the man in his own right. He pumped oil out in Midwest early in his adult life, but in the 1940’s he received a piece of property on Poison Spider Road in the Homestead Act. He continued to pump oil in Midwest while he and his wife and sons built the house on Poison Spider Road. The boys lived in an old crude oil tank that had been cut in half, like a Quonset hut. It had a dirt floor and a pot belly stove for heat. In the Fall, the boys learned early on, to throw something on the floor before getting out of bed. Apparently the rattlesnakes liked these cozy surroundings, and as the weather grew cooler. A throw rug thrown on the floor was a good way to alert you that danger was on the floor, and so your feet shouldn’t be.

Yes, what Uncle Elmer didn’t think of, his brother Les did. Their brother Tom was the baby and therefore wasn’t involved as much, but he had a mischievous side too. Elmer figures it is an inherited trait, and one that probably got Tom is as much trouble later on, such as when the boys were racing their Harley’s out by Evansville. I don’t know how many of you know about the Evansville area, but the police out there don’t take much to racing…if you know what I mean. I’m sure Uncle Elmer and his brothers found that out too.

After what was a miserably hot Summer in Wyoming, as in much of the United States, Fall has finally arrived. It’s hard to believe that after praying for rain most of the Summer, we have had rain 3 times this week. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it would have been nice to get some of this rain in the Summer. Nevertheless, the cooler temperatures are finally here, as are the colors of Fall that we all love to see. While I usually say that Summer is my favorite season, and that is still true, this Summer has been so hot, that it was miserable, so for this year only, I think Fall might be my favorite.

While I probably won’t have any more time to get out and walk in this lovely Fall weather, I will do my best. The changing leaves are so pretty, even if we don’t have much of the gorgeous reds that you see back East, the green to yellow is also lovely…especially when those bright colors stretch as far as the eye can see. It looks like the sun landed in the trees.

Fall always brings memories of buying school supplies and clothes, of course that was back when it was closer to Fall when school started, and not still Summer, like these days. It also brings the realization that with Summer’s end and Fall’s beginning, Winter is not far behind. There has even been talk of snow on Wednesday. It always seems like Fall is mixed with Winter in Wyoming, which I wish would not be the case. The changing of the seasons might not seem so bad if they each took their turns. Winter simply needs to understand that it is not supposed to arrive until December 21, so what is with snow before that. Rain I don’t mind, but the snow should wait its turn.

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t ask me what I think of it, so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter to it much. All I can do is try to get out and enjoy the Fall weather, before the season slips past me as Summer appears to have done. Like it or not…ready or not…here comes Fall!

Big sisters are a very unique type of person, especially when they are the oldest child. They have gone from being the only child to being a little mommy’s helper in the care of their new little sibling. They are usually young enough to have it in their head that this is their baby, so don’t even tell them that they can’t be the mommy! They don’t like it when you don’t let them be the caregiver of this new baby. Of course, as with any job, they know that there are some things that should be handled by the nanny (ie, Mommy)…like stinky diapers!! Mom is totally welcome to step in at that moment. And if this kid decides to scream, and a bottle won’t fix it, well, call in the nanny. Nanny/Mommy is good for some things, but not when the big sister is in charge. They are for when big sister needs a babysitter for the baby, and nothing more. It is almost as if Mommy is really a surrogate mommy.

While big sisters can be in the way for moms sometimes, it is also very sweet to watch there first attempts at mothering. Girls have a built in mother’s instinct, in most cases, and it comes out in them very early on. From the moment they hold their first doll, they are a mommy in their own mind. Of course, maybe that doll is the reason that they don’t care much for stinky diapers or screaming babies. I mean, that doll was just so much better behaved than that, right? Nevertheless, it doesn’t take long for them to realize that this new baby is a bit different than that baby doll they had, but as they get used to the new baby, they instinctively understand that crying and the smell is just a part of the deal with a younger sibling, so as long as Mommy or somebody else shows up for the tough times, the responsibilities of a big sister are not so bad.

Unfortunately, as the baby gets older, the newness also wears off some, and before the baby is old enpugh to play or walk, the older sister might get tired of helping out. It doesn’t always happen, but sometimes it does. If it happens, it is usually a short period of time, because before too long, the baby is old enough to play with its older sister, and then the fun really begins. With an older sister teaching the younger sibling the ropes, there is no telling what kind of trouble they can manage to get into. In fact, if you think about it, you can probably come up with a whole list of ways you got into trouble with your big sister’s help, or maybe for you it was a big brother, but that is another story.

My sisters and I loved each other dearly, and we still do to this day. We are best friends, and enjoy spending time together. Still, that did not stop the normal sibling rivalry and other forms of fights kids have. Looking back on them now, we can laugh it off, but for me the scars I left on my sisters are still pretty fresh in my memory. I always had long finger nails…or daggers, weapons, knives, or whatever you might call them. I could be pretty dangerous. Not as dangerous, apparently and my sister Caryl was, however. I don’t know how Alena survived such a horrendous attack.

Of course, Caryl and Alena were playing around in this picture, but that wasn’t always the case. With 5 girls in the house, there were bound to be some cat fights, or just plain knock down drag out fights. What I do remember vividly, however, was that when we got too screamy for my mom, she would clear the living room floor, and make us fight it out. Those fights usually ended up with each of us pulling the other’s long hair, refusing to give in, until we were both head down on the floor being held there by the hair. We would usually end up laughing at the silliness of this type of battle, and quickly move back to the whole sisterly love thing. Wise woman, my mom!

We never stopped goofing around with what many people might have thought was fighting, but in reality was play. Scenes like Caryl pretending to choke Alena were not uncommon, because we loved to tease each other, and 5 sisters can come up with a lot of ways to tease…or torture. Yes, there were some fights, but I can honestly say that there were a lot more times where sisterly love prevailed, and that is probably why we have remained such good friends all these years. I love my sisters, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. We have grown and changed trough the years, but our love for each other has not grown dim. My sisters were, are, and always will be my best friends. Sisterly love always wins in the end.

When my granddaughter, Shai was a little girl, she was…well, a Drama Queen, as I think I have told you before. Many teenaged girls turn into Drama Queens for a time, but this was pretty much instantaneous for Shai. If you startled her, she came unglued. If you put her to bed, she came unglued. She had to be rocked to sleep, in order for Amy to get any peace during the day. Now, this wasn’t totally her fault, as some babies just startle easier than others, and of course, rocking her to sleep was so wonderful, that we all spoiled her in that arena, as well as plenty of rocking for her cousin Christopher.

Nevertheless, like her Grandma, Miss Shai did not like bugs…of any kind!!! With the possible exception of the lady bug. So, if she was playing, and she happened to see a bug, her instant reaction was to scream, “Budge…budge!!!”” This was her pronunciation of the word bug. I can understand her reaction, as I have been known to freak out about a bug my self. Even the tiniest spider, has the ability to make me cringe, as both my husband and my boss can tell you. Killing bugs…is simply not in my job description at home or at work!!! And I don’t think it is in Shai’s job description to this day either.

It’s funny that certain bugs don’t seem to bother us quite as much as others. I don’t mind Lady Bugs, and I don’t think Shai does either, and in the arena of other animals or insects, I love butterflies, but they really need to keep their distance, and yet I don’t mind if a Hummingbird tries to dive bomb me. Odd, I know, but that is just the way it is. I think that is another area that Shai and I agree on. One day she had a Hummingbird fly up to her shirt that happened to have a great big pink flower on it. She didn’t seem to be bothered by this little bird who obviously thought she was Hummingbird Feeder. She simply stood there until he realized that he was trying to eat from the wrong flower, and flew away, which of course took only a matter of seconds. I’m not sure what she would have done if he took longer. My guess is that she would have started screaming, “Budge!!! Budge!!”, and Amy would have had to rescue her from the horrible monster that she thought was her friend. I’m glad that was not the case. By the time she realized that the Hummingbird was that close, he was already gone.

Some old pictures are classics, like a picture of your grandfather with only part of the nine kids he and your grandmother had. It’s strange to see Grandpa so young, and if your parent is in the picture, like mine is, seeing your mom or dad that young is really odd, unless you have seen a lot of those really old pictures, which I had not. Their children, Evelyn, Virginia, Delores, Larry, Collene, and Wayne (the baby being held by Evelyn), born in that order, surround their Dad. It looks to me like they were on one of their many outings, most likely rock hunting, which was a favorite pass time for the whole family, although Aunt Evelyn doesn’t looks so happy…probably because, Uncle Wayne is crying, or so it looks to me.

It must have been taken in the Fall or Spring, because everyone is wearing coats. I was looking at my mom, who is the little girl Grandpa has his hand on, and I thought it was interesting that her hat looked like some worn by little immigrant girls on the Titanic. That interests me, because my grandfather’s dad immigrated from Russia, and Mom reminds me of that era, but I could be wrong on that thought. Of course, my grandfather’s mom was born in the United States, and Great Grandpa Byer was gone by the time my mom was born, so any similarity is probably accidental. I wish I could have known him.

I think it is interesting that the children are recognizable to me, even my mom, who is actually looking down a bit. There is just enough of her face for me to tell without a doubt that it is my mom. We all think that children change so much from the time they are little to the time they are grown, but the more I look at pictures, the more I realize that it isn’t so. Those little faces are smaller, but the features are the same, and while some might look quite a bit different, many really don’t.

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a teacher. That said, I’m quite certain that I would not have been very interested in being the only teacher in a one room schoolhouse, where I was responsible for all the grades. I suppose teaching was quite a bit easier, because so much has changed is the education system…not to mention the knowledge base we have now as compared to in the 1800’s.

Of course, teaching and the students have changed so much over the last 100 years, that I don’t think I would want to be a teacher these days. With all the changes in the school systems, especially the removal of God from our schools, discipline and respect in the schools is a thing of the past. Students do whatever they want, and teachers have little or no control. It is a sad state of affairs. Also, with the removal of God from the school, alternative lifestyles are being taught. I don’t say people don’t have the right to live their lives as they choose, but I don’t like the idea of that being taught in the schools, and I would have a hard time teaching it myself.

What I find interesting about the old one room schoolhouse, and they way they taught back then, is that the different grades had to do their own work while a group in one grade was being taught their lessons. We often say that kids shouldn’t listen to the radio, while doing homework, but I think they have been able to close distractions out for many years, and the radio doesn’t seem like it would be any different to me. I also wonder about how much the younger grades are absorbing while they are hearing the upper grades lessons. It would seem to me that they could learn quite a bit that way, and it might make it easier, as they move into the next grade, to understand the work.

And of course, the students played together. These days, teenagers seldom spend much time with grade school children who are not related to them, but back then, it was very common. Most of our grandparents or great grandparents attended a one room schoolhouse at one time or another. We are the ones who find that so different. One thing to note in Wyoming, however, is that we still actually have a couple of one room schoolhouses in the state. I think I would find it interesting to visit one…wouldn’t you?

I love looking at my family’s old pictures. It makes me  wonder about the way things were in years past. One of the things that stands out to me is the clothing. Kids of all generations think that the clothes they wear are totally new fashion, and I suppose some of it was, but like it or not, there really is no new thing under the sun. The styles of today, were once the styles of yesteryear. Everything from long skirts, to pants, to mini skirts, to shorts has been worn before. It is so strange to look back, and see styles that girls have worn in the very recent past or even today, showing up in the 1800’s or the early 1900’s. In fact, I was amazed to see girls in either a mini skirt or a skirted bathing suit, with heels on. Now is the 1800’s, there would have been a name for girls like that, but in the 1920’s, after World War I ended, and the flapper came into being, the attitude in this country was so festive, that things were allowed that had not been very acceptable in times past.

When I think back on my own fashion statements as a kid, the jeans went from straight legged to bells, to big bells. They went from tight, to skinny, to bells that started at the top of the tight. We also went from Capri’s to shorts, to never wearing shorts, and from never wearing plaid to plaid was totally in style. Skirts went from long to midi to mini. And with each change, we were certain that we had started a totally new trend. Even some of the really outlandish trends of today are not originals. The really low cut pants the boys wear today, were actually started in men’s prisons, to let the other prisoners know that the convict was “open for business” if you can believe it. That in itself would make me refuse to wear that style…how about you? And of course, what girl hasn’t been told that she needs to leave something to the imagination, and yet in some of the eras of the past, showing more than half of the bosom was not only accepted, but the only fashion there was for women to wear!!

So, would we be shocked if someone came into a room is a style from the past, or would we not even notice, because they fit right in. I like to think that showing half of the bosom would shock us, but then we are used to men showing half of the butt these days. So, would we be surprised? I think we might not. In my opinion, the only thing that might surprise anyone, would be if the person was dressed up too much, not how much they were showing. A girl in high school wearing a lacy dress, with a high collar, and mid-length skirt would undoubtedly bring stares from all those around her. Styles do change, and we must change with them to a degree, or at the very least, learn to live with the latest fashion statements that each new generations is bound to come up with…or resurrect.

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