My brother-in-law, Mike Reed is becoming quite the rancher. A few years back, Mike and my sister, Caryl bought a ranch west of Casper, and started fixing it up. It was…a process, to say the least. The ranch had been a sheep ranch, and had a huge complex that was used for birthing lambs. Since Mike and Caryl were not going to raise sheep, and because of the disrepair of the complex, they had to be demolished and removed. Since that difficult job, Mike and Caryl have been working very hard to get their ranch ready for their future retirement plans. They are boarding horses, and they have a ranch hand who lives on the ranch and takes care of things, since they are currently still living in Rawlins, and coming to Casper for the weekends. The have been building a house and a barn, and this weekend, they are putting together side roll wheels for irrigation, as they continue to get ready for the hay field they are planning to plant. They are becoming real ranchers, in every way. It is one among several of the new chapters in their lives.
Recently, they decided to buy a Trike, and they have found that they really enjoy their outings. They joined with some friends, including Mike’s brother, Shawn and his wife Tia for a 300 mile poker run from Saratoga, Wyoming through the Snowy Mountains, into Laramie, Wyoming, then back to Saratoga via Walden, Colorado and Riverside, Wyoming. They had a really great time. In fact they had so much fun that they have made plans over Labor Day to take a trip up to Red Lodge, Montana.
Mike is a avid hunter, and he has made several trips to hunt, including Canada, Alaska, and Africa. Mike is getting ready to take another hunting trip to Alaska in September with his good friend, Scott Penman, to hunt Alaskan Moose. This trip will be what is called a drop hunt, which means that the plane lets them off at a camp spot and then leaves them there on their own. Then it comes back for them later. Mike is pretty excited about this hunt, and according to my sister, he’s been gathering everything together for months!! I don’t know, maybe he’s a little excited!! I’m sure the guys will have a great time, and I hope their hunt is successful. These kinds of trips really get Mike’s adrenalin going. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
A little over eight years ago, I wrote a story about my sister, Caryl Reed and how my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I used to attack her and give her the “tickle torture” on a fairly regular basis. Little did I know then, the impact that story would have on my readers. In the eight years the story has been up, it has received 1016 comments, which is far more than any other story I have written. I have had countless numbers of people tell me their own stories about being tortured or being the torturer. Several have suggested that I need to write another story on tickle torturing tales, and with that, Tickle Tales was conceived in my head. I thought I might highlight some of the funniness that has been born of the Tickle Torture craze.
One friend, Suzy approached me with some ideas to get her siblings, and after enlisting the help of her particularly devious brother-in-law, the tickle “chair” was born. The tickle chair really isn’t a chair at all, but is a portable set of “stocks” to lock the victim’s feet in place while the torturers tickle away. Now I’ve never had this done to me, but I can tell you that anytime you can’t kick or get away from your tickle attacker…the situation becomes a true form of “friendly” torture. While some people might think this harsh, their family loved it, and even made bets on things, like football games to decide who the next victim was. As far as I know this is now a new tradition in their family.
A couple I’m friends with, Mike and Ashley asked me for some ideas to get started on their own betting scheme. After a number of times at being Mike’s victim, Ashley and her girlfriends finally exacted her revenge. Mike had made a habit of taking a nap on the couch…an “unfortunate” mistake for him, and so the girls managed to place ropes under the couch and tied his hands and feet to the legs of the couch. Helpless to fight them off, the girls gave him the tickle torture of a lifetime. Mike is a good sport, and even being given a pedicure by his captors didn’t upset him. It did, however, make him decide that revenge was the only logical response to this. He got his revenge using feathers on Ashley’s feet, while her toes were tied together. Their current bet involves the loser on this years’ football games, and a Super Bowl Revenge that will be carried out over the course of the Super Bowl game…the whole game…when they score, or commercial breaks, half time show, and of course, the game ending finale!! Yikes!! I pity the loser in this competition!!
Tickle Torture is a great way to keep life interesting, and as long as everybody is a good sport about it, can bring a lot of laughs. The thing I find funny is that even while being tickled, very few people get upset, because tickling isn’t, after all, painful. And it does make you laugh!! I don’t think that Tickle Torture will ever be a thing of the past. It’s just too much fun!! Have you tickled someone today?
My great grand nephew, Jaxx Harman is a sweet little two year old boy, with smiling eyes, and a great personality. He is easy going, probably the result of being the youngest of the three children of his parents, Melanie and Jake Harman, and little brother to two sisters, Alice and Izabella. When a little boy has a mom and two sisters all “mothering” him, he pretty much has to grow up to be very patient. Nevertheless, according to his mom, he can also be whiny and that probably gets him a little bit of leeway when it comes to being ordered around by his sisters.
Alice, being a bit older never had a problem saying Jaxx, but Izabella, being just 17 months older than her brother, has never called him anything, but Bletta!! While I’m sure that name will someday go away, at least as far as Belle is concerned, it will always be one that his parents and grandparents will cherish, and who knows, it may always be his nickname…after all, it is cute. Some nicknames are just destined to stick. Jaxx must like it because he doesn’t say anything about it, even though he is speaking very clearly these days. Of course, just about anything his sisters do is ok with Jaxx, and these days he is capable of following them around, and he likes that new-found ability, and the freedom it brings with it.
While Jaxx loves his sisters very much, a guy really does need to have buddies who share the same interests, and lets face it, girls play differently than boys. That’s where Jaxx’s cousin once removed, Matthew Masterson comes in. Matt and Jaxx have a really great bond, and it doesn’t bother Matt to hang out with a cousin who is so much younger than his own 13 years. Maybe that’s because Matt is also the only boy in a family with three sisters, two of whom still live in the family home. That gives these boys something in common, and whenever Jaxx find out that Matt is coming over, or he is going to Matt’s house, he gets very excited. Finally, somebody who is on his side. Not to mention that Matt likes to hang out with him, which many times doesn’t happen with older boys and their younger cousins. Matt has a kind heart, and I’m sure that is in a big way the thing that attracts Jaxx to him. Today is Jaxx’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Jaxx!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
As we all know, Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks to God for the many blessing we have had throughout the year. Most of the time, we tend to be thankful for the same things…family, friends, jobs, a home…just to name a few. Like most people, I am thankful for those things too, but this year Thanksgiving has taken on a different meaning for me. Along with the normal things to be thankful for, I am so thankful that I am not a widow. That could have easily been the case, but God gave me and my family a miracle just a little over a month ago. That miracle was that while my husband, Bob Schulenberg could have died of a “Widowmaker” heart attack, he did not…nor is he incapacitated in any way.
Bob’s miracle took the form of a number of Heaven sent people, who were in the exactly right place and the exactly right time to see Bob fall, come to his aid, perform CPR, and to add their prayers to mine, in our moment of urgency. Some of these people are really never at Walmart, where Bob fell in the parking lot, and yet God had orchestrated their unusual visit to happen at exactly the time it was need to save a life…my husband’s life. I have always known that God is on my side, but never was that fact made more clear to me than that Sunday afternoon. I had no idea what that shopping trip was going to end like. I had no idea that my faith, and the faith of so many other people was going to be called to action that day. There were no real warning signs…or at least not that we took as warning signs. Bob was a healthy man, with none of the normal risk factors for heart disease. we had just come from a walk at the mall and he had bowled 6 games in a tournament the day before…and took first place in singles. Nevertheless, right after we got our groceries, a clot lodged in his Left Anterior Descending Artery…the Widowmaker kind of incident, and down he went.
While I should have been in a state of panic, oddly I was not. Yes, I felt worry over him, but everything happened so fast that there was no time to panic. There was work to be done,and Ginger Sims, a progressive care nurse at Wyoming Medical Center, stepped in just about a minute after the heart attack started, and took control of the situation. Her “take charge” mannerisms, took the fear out of the situation, and put the action into it. With the help of her friend, WMC surgical nurse, Valya Boycheva, and WMC transport worker, Laura Lance, CPR was administered immediately, and the blood flow in bob’s body was maintained throughout the entire event. Because God spoke to these people and put them at Walmart that day, Bob had an excellent outcome to what could have been a life ending event.
After something like that, how can I possibly ever look at Thanksgiving in the same casual way I had before? The answer is that I can’t. God gave me a gift that is so amazing that I still have trouble wrapping my head around the events of that day, and just how blessed I am to still have my husband. There really is no way to totally make sense of it all, because it is bigger than the human mind can grasp. God is so good, and when he performs a miracle, it’s spectacular!! God doesn’t do things in a small way. He goes all out, and that is what he did for Bob. I can never thank God enough!! It’s been a whirlwind of activity, but much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!
This day…Armistice Day was sometimes called the end of the war to end all wars. The phrase came from a book, and was really an idealistic statement, because as we all know there will always be a war somewhere. Nevertheless, it must have been overwhelming to think of basically the whole world at war. I’m sure the writer of the book, H G Wells, as well as many other people, hoped that through this awful war, humans could somehow learn to live with one another in peace. While that was not to be, this war, like every war, finally comes to an end. Armistice Day marks the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning, on the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” of 1918. That was, of course, 100 years ago today. Armistice Day is a national holiday in France. It coincides with Remembrance Day in England, and Veterans Day in the United States, and all three are really commemorating the same thing…the end of World War I. And all three are observed as a time to remember those heroes who served their country in that and all other wars. It is a day to remember those who fought and then returned home, but we can’t forget those who didn’t return home either.
Because World War I ended on November 11, 1918, we have continued to remember November 11 as Veterans Day, Armistice Day, and Remembrance Day in honor of our soldiers. The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year, but the Armistice was the beginning. It paved the way, and sometimes that is what is needed the most at a certain low time in history, or in life. Just a glimmer of hope can change the way we feel about things in a big way. It doesn’t matter what name is attached to the day, its all about the meaning of the day that matters. Our veterans have done so much for people they don’t even know, and they all deserve to be recognized for their very heroic acts.
The date is a national holiday in France, England, the United States, and was also declared a national holiday in many Allied nations. In some countries Armistice Day coincides with Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, and other public holidays. Armistice Day is not celebrated in Germany, but a German national day of mourning, Volkstrauertag, has been observed on the Sunday closest to 16 November since 1952. However the day is observed, it is always a day to remember the sacrifice of our soldiers. The day is always celebrated as a day to honor those who served. We can all relate to that, because we all know a veteran, and we all consider them to be honorable people. So, no matter how each country celebrates it or what they call it, we honor our veterans today. Happy Veterans Day!!
A couple of days ago, I wrote a story about the denazification process that took place in post-World War II Germany and in the American concentration camps. while the story inspired thoughts of horror as the German soldiers discovered the truth about the atrocities of Hitler, it also made me a couple of my readers think about events that are far more recent. the feelings that American citizens have against each other in these tumultuous times in which we live. It makes me wonder, just how we got here. Of course, it’s the same way the Nazis got to where they were…hatred.
Nevertheless, I think there is a bigger problem in this day and age, because along with the hatred there is a civil war of sorts going on. The political controversy between Republicans and Democrats has taken a turn toward different forms of hatred. My readers cited the recent shootings at a Jewish temple in Pennsylvania, which very much reminds us of the hatred that Hitler had for the Jewish people, but that isn’t all there is to it. Slavery was abolished many years ago,and or many years racism was practically gone in America, then suddenly because of the rhetoric of a president who was set upon stirring up racism again for his own agenda, we are suddenly faced with that kind of hatred again. The hatred doesn’t follow race either. Along with the the racial fighting we have now, came the hatred for certain groups such as the military and the police.
In fact, this latest version of nazi’ism for lack of a better word, seemed to authorize the hatred of anything we didn’t agree with. To top it off, we have video games that make killing seen like a game, and mobs seem like fun. There are even games played with text messages to bring mobs together to terrorize. People have been so desensitized to death from television, games, and movies, that I’m not even sure that making people sit and watch a movie showing what was happening would really change anything. The news already does that, and we have become used to that too. So, how do we change this present world from one in which hatred is the excepted normal to one that understands the value of life…all life, not just one race or one group. Of course, the only real way to do that is to learn to love each other. Will that stop the political wrangling? Probably not, but if we realize that we can have a difference of opinion and still love each other, maybe we can move in that direction.
These days, driving our cars everywhere we go, there are certain amenities in our cars that we take for granted, but that in reality, we just couldn’t live without. One of those amenities is the automobile air conditioner. Summers would be just miserable without air conditioning in the car. While a company in New York City first offered installation of air conditioning for cars in 1933. Most of their customers operated limousines and luxury cars. I don’t suppose too many people could afford to add that to their car. Then, in 1939, Packard became the first automobile manufacturer to offer an air conditioning unit in its cars. I’m sure that everyone who could afford to buy a car that year, was really excited about the possibilities.
The cars were manufactured by Bishop and Co, of Cleveland, Ohio. The “Bishop and Babcock Weather Conditioner” also incorporated a heater. This looked like a perfect car. Cars ordered with the new “Weather Conditioner” were shipped from Packard’s East Grand Boulevard facility to the B&B factory where the conversion was performed. Once complete, the car was shipped to a local dealer where the customer would take delivery. There were some drawbacks, however. When you think about automobile air conditioning and heat, you immediately think what drawback could there be?
Packard fully warranted and supported this conversion, and marketed it well. However, it was not commercially successful for a number of reasons. The main evaporator and blower system took up half of the trunk space. That problem was alleviated as trunks became larger in the post-war period. The system became outdated by more efficient systems in the post-war years. The original system had no temperature thermostat or shut-off mechanism other than switching the blower off, and even with the switch off, cold air would still sometimes enter the car with any movement as the drive belt was continuously connected to the compressor. Systems designed later would use electrically operated clutches to remedy this problem. The several feet of plumbing going back and forth between the engine compartment and trunk proved unreliable in service. Probably the biggest deterrent was the price, at $274, which would be over $4,692.12 in 2014 US dollars today, it was not affordable to most people in post-depression/pre-war America, but I doubt if the fact that you had to turn off the engine and get out of the car to flip the switch, located in the trunk made it impractical for the most part, and because it also had to be turned off the same way,and with no adjustment, it was something you had to do often. The option was discontinued after 1941. Of course, as you all know, while this version was discontinued in 1941, the air conditioner was not, because we all have a much more efficient version in our automobiles today.
When people are having a bad day, or the worst possible day, people often don’t know what to do to help. And sometimes there is seemingly nothing that can be done to really help, but as most of us know, whether we realize it or not, there is always one thing that can help…a hug. Of course, there is a right time and a wrong time to give a hug, but once the emergency part of a situation is over, we are often left with overwhelming emotions, and they are often held in because we are trying not to do the one thing that we really need to do…cry.
Over the years during which I was a caregiver, and now with what I went through during my husband’s heart attack, I have had a number of situations where the ambulance had to be called. In the whirlwind that followed, I had to keep my composure and tell the medical personnel what happened, and any other pertinent information they needed. I could not let myself break down. I couldn’t cry…or scream, which is what I really wanted to do. I had to hold it together, because my parents, in-laws, and then my husband, needed me to hold it together. I was their voice. Then, as suddenly as the ambulance had arrived, they loaded up their patient, and headed out. I found myself standing there alone, feeling very small and very scared. Then, a firefighter, who had also been dispatched, men who thankfully knew me because my husband had been their mechanic, came up to me and hugged me and encouraged me. Yes, the tears flowed then. There was no longer a need, nor any possible way to hold them back. Those firefighters can’t possibly comprehend what that hug meant to the person who received it. Hugs allow the emotions to release. It is the much needed human contact, when I felt entirely alone.
I am blessed to have many good people in my life. People who understand how badly a hug is needed. People who understand the power of a hug. My boss, Jim Stengel and his wife, Julie; my co-worker, Carrie Beauchamp; my siblings and in-laws; a friend and client, Donna LePage; and then, unexpectedly, my boss’s sons, Anthony and Michael Stengel, all sensed that I could really use a hug, and the power of those hugs has continued to help me. Each hug meant more than the giver can ever imagine. Each hug was given when the giver didn’t know what else to do, and yet each did exactly the right thing!! They instinctively knew that hugs are always healing. That is just the power of a hug.
Some people always have a calm look on their face, even if they are not smiling, they somehow manage not to be frowning. Things don’t really work that way for the concentrator…which is what I am. Concentrators tend to have a frown on their face, so people might think they are mad, when in fact, they are not. They might not have even noticed that anyone is looking at them, much less smiling at them. At least not until that person says something to them or writes them a note saying, of all things, “You really should smile!” For the concentrator, there is really no bigger insult. Maybe the person who said it, meant no harm, but if they thought about it, there are much nicer ways to get someone to smile.
In fact, the other day, while I was driving down second street in Casper, Wyoming, I saw a young man walking down the street. It was not a warm day, and the young man was bundled up in a coat and hat, but even with the distinct chill, to put it mildly, the young man has a smile on his face as he walked along. He wasn’t on the phone, or walking with someone else, and he wasn’t talking, so I could see no specific reason for the smile on his face.
I wondered what he was thinking about that would put a smile on his face. It didn’t matter really, because I smiled instinctively, because he was smiling. It didn’t matter what he was smiling about, his smile made me smile. It was sort of like the movie, Pay It Forward, except with smiles. I though about what a nice young man he might be, but whether I was right or not, didn’t make any difference. His smile told a tale all its own. A tale of Smiling it forward. It sounds silly, but that is what that young man did. His smile brought a smile to my face, and perhaps my smile brought a smile to the face of someone else, and so on…smiling it forward.
I think that over the years, we have all become used to men going off to war, and leaving their families safely at home, while they fight for the freedom and safety of people all over the world who are unknown to them. It’s a common part of war, and one that most of the time, the average person doesn’t even think about. It’s war after all, sacrifices have to be made. What we don’t always think about…until someone points out the obvious to us…is the families, and especially the children who are waiting for their parent to come home.
For any of us who have been away from family for an extended period of time, it’s easy to understand just how badly you can miss someone you love, but war is different. When your child moves away, you miss them, but you know you can go see them soon. When you loved one goes off to war in a country where the fighting is heavy, and bombs are dropping everywhere…not only can you not go visit them whenever you want to, but you live with the knowledge that at any moment, they could be killed in action. And they are living with that knowledge too. It makes the time and distance seem much longer and much further than it really is.
While we might be able to fathom the pain of missing a family member, I think we find it even harder to grasp the complete and utter shocked sense of relief that these family members feel when they are reunited with their loved one again. The children are especially heart wrenching…or is it heart warming. It doesn’t really matter which it is, because no one watching it does so without tears. It’s just impossible. When a German World War II prisoner, was released by the Soviet Union, and is reunited with his daughter, she cannot control her emotions. She had not seen her father since she was one year old, and she is about 5 years old. A mom who spent 7 months in Iraq, cannot contain herself when she sees her daughter again. An officer’s son breaks down because he wasn’t sure he would ever see his daddy again. These are the moments most of us never got to see, but now with the internet,we have the chance to look into the lives of those who serve our nation, fight our battles, and protect our world. It is in those moments that we realize what really happens when those who serve are reunited with their loved ones again.