Friends

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With the 2020 Covid-19 outbreak and subsequent shut down of much of our country, including the schools and many businesses, Americans have faced many challenges…among them, the loss of many sports, at least temporarily. Now, as the country begins the reopening process, sports of all kinds have taken on a different look. Slowly, the summer sports are getting started again. The stands are empty, because social distancing doesn’t permit people to sit so close as they would sit in the stands. The coaches, and reluctantly, the parents decided that it was more important to let the kids play, than to wait until the parents could watch. It has been a similar story in all areas of sports.

For the professional sports, many changes had to be made. A new kind of baseball, Nascar, football, and many other types of sports. Sports had to be reinvented…or a lease the spectator part of sports had to be reinvented. Some sports have missed their opportunity for this year, and they are holding out hope for a real season next year. Even the news was different, because normally after the news and weather, came sports. The sports was still there, but there were no games to recap. We heard instead, about future plans, college draft choices, and the fact that there would be no sports for the time being.

It wasn’t just the professional sports either. Bowling alleys closed weeks before the end of the leagues’ schedules were finished. League officers waited, hoping to get back in time to finish the season, but it was not to be, so reluctantly, they divided the prize money based on the standings at the point when the bowling alleys closed. most prize money was mailed out, but a few waited until this past week so they could meet for the purpose of distributing the funds.

As Memorial Day approaches, it seems that the annual car shows have also fallen victim to the Covid-19 shutdown. That is a sad thing for many people, my husband, Bob being one of them. He practically spends the whole weekend looking at the cars. This time, like so many events this year, will be different. No car shows, little travel, no graduation ceremonies (at least not in the normal sense); just the official end to the school year, since it unofficially ended at spring break…the longest spring break in history. No one failed, and we have no idea how far behind they will be next year, or what returning to school will look like for sure. All we know is that like sports, life reinvented…will go on.

Saint Patrick’s Day is usually synonymous with celebrations, parades, green beer at the local pub, and of course the “Wearin’ O The Green,” but this year might be very different. Of course, we all know why that is. The current Coronavirus has found most people taking extraordinary measures to avoid being around large groups of people, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus, which can have serious symptoms in some patients and rather mild symptoms in others. I think people are trying to do what it takes to be safe.

One of the biggest cancellations is the many Saint Patrick’s Day Parades. Most places don’t want more than 50 people…or 25 people…and even 10 people gathering in public places. Many of the bars and restaurants have been closed, so that eliminates Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations. Of course, schools and day cares, gyms, hotels and travel industries, casinos, movie theaters, churches, and many businesses, are also closed, so people can’t go to those places to celebrate or even to carry on everyday life. Even the traditional dying or the Chicago River to emerald green for Saint Patrick’s Day has been cancelled. There are places that are open, such as stores, hospitals, and doctors offices, but people are asked to avoid them as much as possible. The idea of a sick person being told to avoid the doctor’s office or hospital is a very strange one. In times past, doctors would not diagnose disease over the phone, but now that is the first line of defense. The medical professionals don’t want people who have the disease to come in and infect other people. In fact, people are told to “quarantine or shelter in place” in an effort to slow the spread of the disease. Testing sites have even become drive-through…a previously unheard-of idea. All of these things have pushed Saint Patrick’s Day to the background of reality.

Nevertheless, I have seen a number of people who have put their own “Wearin’ O The Green” on line, or on television (for people who are in the news, etc), or just at home with their own families. I realize that this virus has dampened the spirits of many people, but deep down inside, there seems to live a victorious spirit within people. They seem to be refusing to allow this to bring about depression. On this Saint Patrick’s Day, I have seen the Ohio Governor Mike DeWine talking about postponing the Ohio Caucus, while wearing a blue suit, green tie, and green hair dye in his hair. Sure, the best case scenario is to be able to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in all of it’s traditions, but the reality of the Coronavirus insists that we do things differently this year. I like that so many people have chosen to celebrate in a social-distancing social media kind of way. I’m glad that people still seem to have a sense of humor, amid the panic. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to one and all!!

My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg has spent time in several areas of Wyoming in her lifetime. Most of them, I didn’t really know about. One place in particular was a surprise…the small town of Wapiti, Wyoming, where Rachel lived during her elementary school years. Rachel seems to have really enjoyed those years, and talks about walking by the “Weird and Wacky Smith Mansion” every day. When I look at the pictures of the Smith Mansion, I can see how it would be very interesting…especially for a kid. The mansion looks “haunted” in many respects, but it also looks somewhat like a “three ring circus.” It seems to have unusual entrances, strange floors…some of which are like a terrace, and in general, a look that is very similar to an oil derrick. I don’t know if the kids ever got in there to play, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out they tried.

Rachel went to a sweet little country school in Wapiti, and apparently, the country life suited her…to a degree anyway. These days, she is back living in the country, but the roads in Homa Hills really don’t make country living easy. I lived out there for a while myself, and the Gumbo Clay is sticky and sloppy. It’s nothing like the picture perfect country lanes we all read about. Still, for Rachel and my brother-in-law, Ron it’s home.

Rachel’s years in Wapiti were sweet, and also bitterly sad. It was here that her mother, Connie Rae Mooren Franklin passed away. Rachel was just past 10 years old at the time. It was a devastating part of Rachel’s past, because she will always miss her mom. The family moved away from Wapiti shortly thereafter. Rachel had some tough years after her mother passed away, but one wonderful person came from her grief to give her purpose in life. Her daughter Cassandra “Cassie” was born when Rachel was 16 years old. Cassie says they went through high school together, and I’m sure that’s true. Many schools had an on-site daycare for young mothers. She graduated high school with her baby girl, went on to college, and got her accounting degree shortly afterwards. While she was in college at Northwestern Community College, she and Cassie lived in Trapper Village West. After her marriage and divorce, from her first husband and with two sons, Riley Birky, and Tucker Schulenberg (who was legally adopted by my brother-in-law, Ron), Rachel worked in home health for quite a while. Cassie tells me what an inspirationally hard-working single mom. She made their lives as close to normal as could be. The family had two dogs when Cassie was a teenager…a Poodle and a Shih Tzu.

Before her marriage to my brother-in-law, Rachel worked for and the family attended Glad Tidings Church. She met my brother-in-law, through her nest friend, Machelle Moore, who was not only with her through the good, bad, and ugly things in life, but was also, Ron’s niece. It was a marriage made in Heaven for both of them…and it made Machelle her niece too. Things just kept getting better and better. Then when Ron adopted her younger son, Tucker, it was the topper on what was to be a beautiful cake of life. Add two precious little grandchildren, Lucas and Zoey, and life is perfect. Of course, loss can continue to come, and Rachel recently lost her second mom (technically step-mom) Jan, and her grandmother. Today is Rachel’s birthday. She is an inspiration to a lot of us. Life wasn’t easy, but you made it beautiful for you and your family. Happy birthday Rachel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Whether you are a die-hard football fan, or you just like to bet once in a while, many people find themselves in some kind of bet over the Super Bowl. Most bets are innocent enough, with everyone laying their money down to see if they can pick the winner, point spread, or just the right square on a grid. Lots of people even bet on the games leading up to the Super Bowl, to keep the fun going all season long. Normally the whole idea is to see who can come up with the most money won, but every once in a while, a bet takes place that has nothing to do with money, and in this case, that has made all the difference.

Mike and Ashley are two college students who have jumped on the tickle torture bandwagon. They read some of my tickle torture stories and the comments that followed, and Ashley decided that she wanted to “get” Mike when he could not defend himself. She solicited some assistance from her girlfriends, and one day, when Mike was taking a nap on her couch, he awoke to find that he was tied down, and his socks were being removed. He tried to fight the girls off, but they had him tied down tight. Thus began a series of bets to see who had to allow themselves to be tickle tortured. The ultimate winner was to win the torture session of a lifetime when the loser was tied down for the duration of the game.

The bet started out simple enough…between just the two of them, but it seems that Mike has made some “tickle enemies” over the years. That’s what happens when you have been the torturer to beat all torturers. Mike’s friends, cousins, parents, and even aunts and uncles wanted in on the fun. In the end, it was decided that there was to be one loser, and many winners. The tickle ideas began to run wild. Things like using a ball point pen to record the score changes on the bottoms of the loser’s feet, with a mandatory “scrubbing” of the feet to remove the old score changes…feathers between the toes, hair brushes, and a multitude of other tickle tools to round out the fun.

Unfortunately for Mike, he made so real poor team picks when it came to each week’s winning team picks. He lost to everyone, including nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, his parents, and all the girls. His goose was cooked…so to speak. When the Super Bowl rolled around, lots of plans had been made for our loser. Leading up to the torture session were plenty of pictures of stocking feet that would “not” be tickled in the days events. Everyone was in on this…and nobody was missing this Super Bowl Party.

On that fateful day, Mike had to allow himself to be restrained. The group had decided to wrap him up like a burrito so that he couldn’t move. The torture devises were put on display for Mike to get a good look at. He had thought to try keeping his socks on to protect his feet as much as possible, but you can’t keep your socks on when you are tied up like a burrito. You have no say. Of course, Mike was to be allowed breaks, but then his dad came up with the idea of making him win a bet in order to get his break. Things were not looking good for the guy who hadn’t won a week’s bets all season, and to top it off, Mike comes from a fun-loving tickle family. He was doomed. Everyone had their own ideas of the torture they would mete out…and since Mike was in his cocoon in the middle of the room, it was open season. There was even a finale that he had no idea was coming.

If you watched the Super Bowl, you have a good idea just how many score changes there were, and remember that the score changed for the touchdown, and for the conversion point. Mike said there were something like 12 score changes…and he would know. Mike had tortured all these people, and now it was payback time. Mike said that the worst part was the scrubbing off of the old score for the changes. That tickled worse than anything else. Mike told me that his feet were still feeling the tickle days later. He had never laughed so hard in his life. In fact he’s still recovering. He will never live this down. And as to the finale, well…it seems that at one time, Mike decided to prank his cousin by smashing a pie in her face. She has been waiting to just the right time to get even for that one, and so there was a cream pie just for the occasion. I wish I could have seen that one. Unfortunately, everyone was having so much fun, that the pictures were few, and far between. Nevertheless, the Super Bowl Tickle Torture was a grand success.

February 14th…a day set aside to celebrate love. There are so many ways to show you love someone. From our very earliest days, we get valentines from our parents, classmates, and even teachers. We learn that this day is different from any other holiday. It’s all about making people happy…and in turn, it comes back around to us.

Some people like to remain anonymous, like the child who put a valentine in our mailbox. The valentine was not signed, nor was it addressed to us, it was simply placed in our mailbox, unseen, when we were not home. It was such a sweet gesture, and it really touched our hearts. The kids in our neighborhood seem to have an extra-strong level of kindness in their DNA, and I find that very sweet. It’s not the first time they have done nice things for the neighborhood. Recently, we caught someone being nice, when we heard a noise on our porch, and looked to see a neighborhood child out shoveling the snow from the neighborhood sidewalks. They didn’t want recognition or money, they just wanted to be nice…and they succeeded in doing just that.

Some people like to show their love for someone by making Valentine’s Day extra special forever. They marry on that day, like my niece Lindsay Moore and her husband, Shannon did six years ago. Now every year, is a special Valentine’s Day for them. Many people would agree that Valentine’s Day is a very cool wedding day, while others prefer to keep the two days separate. My husband and I fall into the latter category, having married two weeks after Valentine’s Day. Either way, they are special days to show your love for your spouse.

If you ask me, these days there is nothing better than showing love for people. Everyone needs to feel loved, and we all have times when we don’t feel loved. Sometimes we just need a hug. Show a little love to those around you today. Happy Valentine’s Day!!

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!!

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