Last night as my husband, Bob and I were heading out for our evening walk at about 7:15pm, we were met by a concerto of song coming from the pine tree in our next door neighbor’s yard. Of course, it was the birds settling down for the night, since it was heading into the evening hours. I was immediately reminded of the day of the total eclipse that Casper had just been in the center of. As the sky grew darker, the birds began hurrying to and fro in search of their places for the night. They began singing their evening songs, just as they were doing when we stepped out of our front door last night. Birds, of course, are programmed to begin bedtime preparations as the daylight starts to fade, unlike humans who might not go to sleep until the wee hours of the morning.
The concerto also reminded me of one of my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s favorite movies…The Sound of Music. Of course, the song they sang on that movie was The Hills Are Alive, and not The Trees Are Alive, but my imagination is allowed to make those little changes…basically taking a little poetic license, and change the wording a little bit to fit the situation. So, while I heard the melody of The Hills Are Alive, the words that sang out were The Trees Are Alive.
Since we began taking evening walks a number of years ago, we have found ourselves rather fascinated with the animal life around us. The birds flying here and there, with what appears to be no specific destination in mind; the rabbit with a broken leg that has managed to survive most of the summer, even though he can’t hop as fast as so many other rabbits; the dogs who are sure that we are their friends, even to the point of vying for our attention with the other dogs in their yard or next door; and even the deer, who stand and watch us, not moving unless we do something to appear to be coming toward them. They are all very interesting in the way they interact with people. The birds don’t seem to want to fly too far from their original spot to get away from us as we approach, almost as if they are saying, “I’m not scared of you.” The rabbits sit bravely still, hoping that we won’t notice them, sometimes allowing us to get only a foot or so away from them, providing we continue to walk along without stopping.
Animals are funny sometimes, doing things that almost seem like human activities, and even the wild animals who seem to want to interact with humans…from a safe distance, anyway. The mourning doves and other birds that like to look at us from their safe perch on the power lines or light poles above us, always strike me as funny. They know we are there, and they seem curious about us, but they don’t want to get too close, after all they aren’t stupid, just curious, as they allow us to share their space. And of course, there is nature’s version of Twitter…when a large group of birds flock to one tree, and everyone is tweeting at once…as was the case when we left for our evening walk last night.
My grand niece, Raelynn Masterson is a sweet girl who looks a lot like her mom, my niece, Dustie Masterson. They are really very much alike in lots of ways. They both love music, and Dustie tells me that it isn’t just one kind of music that Raelynn likes…it’s all kinds of music. I think it is a sign of a true music lover, to love all genres of music, because it doesn’t seem to be the music style that attracts them, but rather each tone on its own and the melody it produces when mixed with other tones.
There is a big part of Raelynn that reminds me of me too. Where do I begin? Raelynn loves to write stories…sound familiar to anyone? This seems to be a pastime that Raelynn and her peers are all into these days. She love reading their stories, and they love reading hers. Her stories are further enhanced with her own anime drawings to help tell the story. Now this is where we very much differ, because I cannot draw, so my stories are accompanied by photos. Her mom says that while she doesn’t pretend to understand Raelynn’s love of anime, she can easily see the beauty of her drawings, and the beauty in the stories that accompany the drawings. Another way in which Raelynn reminds me of me is that she loves police procedural shows like Bones and Criminal Minds. I love those shows too, as well as NCIS and CSI, which I’m sure she likes as well. I think it might be the scientist that lives in both of us. We may not be trained scientists, but we really appreciate the scientific procedures and their outcomes. We are both utter geeks. Raelynn learned a Viking game that is a cross between Chess and Tic-Tac-Toe. She recently learned to play at the Science Museum in Denver and the lady that taught her said she did very well…more of the geek I think.
I think most women, especially have the ability to multi-task, but some do it much better that others. When Dustie told me (and I’ve seen it for myself when I’ve been at her house) that Raelynn is an exceptional multi-tasker, it was like someone took a picture of me in the evenings when I’m not on a walk. Raelynn loves to do all these things…reading, writing, drawing, police procedural shows…and she does them at the same time…and doesn’t miss a beat on any one of them. That is the mark of a true multi-tasker, and I find that exceptional!! Raelynn and I both love cats…seriously, is this girl related to me or what? If you need to find the family cat, Lewie inside the house, just find Raelynn, because she is Lewie’s human…and that’s all there is too it. Lewie doesn’t really like the family dog, Missy, and so his favorite place to be in the whole world is with his human. He loves to lay beside her, and she in kind pets him and makes him feel safe and loved.
Recently, Raelynn proved what a strong person she is, when she went through a life changing surgery for scoliosis. Raelynn’s life thus far has been spent with limited mobility and much pain, and yet, she never complained. She had to tell her friends sometimes, that she couldn’t do certain things, because if she bent over, as if to touch her toes, you could see that her spine was near her shoulder blade, and it caused her great pain. Nevertheless, she wasn’t a whiner…or a quitter. She pursued her dreams with a gusto, often ignoring the pain to do the things she wanted to do. She wore a back brace for years and while it really limited movement, she didn’t complain. Now, post surgery, she is healing quickly and is off of all prescription pain meds. She is a shining example of what God can do, if you allow Him to. She is a God-given blessing to her parents, and indeed her whole family. Today, Raelynn turns 14 years old. She is growing into a beautiful young woman. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My aunt, Jeanette Byer is one tough lady. She has lived in the country for most of her life, and she is no stranger to hard work. In fact, I’m sure that is what has kept her young all these years. Aunt Jeanette is one lady who simply doesn’t know the word quit. She broke her leg one time, and she insisted that she could still do what she needed to do. So, with a crutch under one arm, and a weed-eater in the other hand, she proceeded to cut the weeds long the fence on their property. Aunt Jeanette simply would not let a little thing like a broken leg slow her down. She says, that she was raised in the country, and out there, you just do whatever you have to do…hard work and all. It was how you made a go of things in the country.
Aunt Jeanette’s sister-in-law, my aunt, Sandy Pattan told me something about Aunt Jeanette that is probably one of the nicest things I’ve ever heard said about a person. She said that Aunt Jeanette never had an unkind word to say about anybody. I was somewhat stunned about that. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe that about Aunt Jeanette, because I had no reason to doubt it. It was stunned because…seriously, how many people can honestly have that said about them, and yet there were several other people who said the same thing about Aunt Jeanette. She simply didn’t gossip, or say a harsh word about anyone. What an amazing tribute that is! I’ve thought about that statement since I first heard it.
What kind of person literally never says an unkind word about anyone? This must be a very forgiving person. I have known Aunt Jeanette all my life. She is a very sweet person, and I have always loved her very much. I can’t think of a time that I ever heard her say an unkind word about anyone. She has always been a fun person, and my husband, Bob and I have always enjoyed talking to her, and to her husband, my Uncle Larry, before his passing. Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry were always busy doing things. In fact, the place we often saw them was at Home Depot or Menard’s. They were always fixing something up. I think that is why Aunt Jeanette just never really aged. She stayed busy. Way to go Aunt Jeanette. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
After a spring filled with pneumonia for my husband, Bob and bronchitis for me, our annual hiking trip to the Black Hills of South Dakota was in question. Not the trip itself really, but the normal amount of hiking that we do, and the trails we normally take. We had determined that our favorite trail, up to Harney Peak was simply out of the question, and our early hikes were the Willow Creek trail, and two days on the Mickelson trail, both considered easy trails. We did exceptionally well, and so we decided that today would be a day for a moderate trail. We used the AllTrails app to make our decision, and settled on the Sunday Gulch trail, which takes off from Sylvan Lake.
When we got to the trailhead, the sign said that it was a strenuous trail that was four miles long and was expected to take two to three hours to complete. The trail’s rating made us hesitate, but we decided that if it got too rough, we would turn around and head back. We began the trail with a down hill hike across the rocks, with handrails to keep you from slipping. Yes…it was that difficult. My instincts said, “Maybe this isn’t such a good idea.” But, insanity won out, and we pressed on. The trail was beautiful, and the air was cool down in the gulch, despite the 90° temperatures up above. We had started the hike early enough, and expected to be done by 11:30am. As we continued down, using several handrails to cross the difficult rocks, I just kept hoping that we didn’t have to go back up those rocks.
After what we now know to be the last of the handrails, we came across the first people we would see. The were a young couple who told us the were beginning hikers. We asked if they had hiked this trail before. They had not, but they told us that the trail ahead was a gradual uphill hike…mostly anyway…with no handrails. My mind felt instant relief. It was short lived. Yes, the hike was a gradual uphill…some of the way, and no, there were no handrails. That doesn’t mean that the hike was easy. Granted we were not in the same shape we had been in years past, but I had hoped that we were in better shape than it seemed we were. The 11:30am mark came and went, with us being apparently no closer to the end of the trail. We were close to the road at times, but there was no guarantee that it would be an easier hike. As we climbed I thought about two things. First, I had probably chosen a trail that was too hard for us. Second, that we were actually more that three quarters of the way through that trail, and while we were tired, we were making it. We were making it!! When we finally reached the end of the trail at 12:30pm, we felt a sense of pride in our accomplishment. We had broken through a barrier, and we made it back. It was the most strenuous, moderate trail we have ever hiked, but we did it, it was beautiful…and that’s what it’s all about.
My grandnephew, Lucas Iverson is turning six today, and he is proudly getting ready to go to Kindergarten. Lucas is a special kid. He has Down’s Syndrome, but he isn’t letting that or anything else slow him down. He has had to work harder than most kids, just to arrive at the same place, but just because it’s been harder, doesn’t mean Lucas will quit. He’s no quitter!!
Going to Kindergarten is going to make for a big year for Lucas, but that isn’t the only big step in Lucas’ next year. Over the next few months, Lucas is going to have some tests and procedures at Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado. I’m not sure what they are hoping to find with the tests or the procedures, but I pray they will find a way to make his life easier. His young life has already been filled with tests, and therapy to help with walking and such. Most of us would have wanted to quit long ago, but Lucas just keeps plugging along, because, he’s no quitter!!
Hard work has paid off for Lucas, because he is walking now, and that is a very big accomplishment. I think that his sister, Zoey might have had a lot to do with that. Zoey is just a little over four years younger than Lucas, but since she could walk earlier, she inspired him…and she helped him along. Sh has never been the kind of sister to push Lucas away. She loves him with all her heart. When they are in the playpen, they love to wrestle, and that is good exercise too, so I’m sure it has helped to make Lucas stronger. From what their mom, Cassie has told me, it’s quite a sight. It makes her and their dad, Chris laugh. The kids have a great time too.
Like most kids, Lucas live to watch television and movies. His favorite movie right now is Moana. Now if you’re like me, you might have to look that movie up to see what it is all about. Well, it’s an adventure movie about a teenager who sets out to save her people. Lucas likes that sort of thing. He also likes reading his cardboard books and coloring. I’m sure he’s quite an artist. Lucas is growing into quite a big boy, and it s all because he’s no quitter!! Today is Lucas’ 6th birthday!! Happy birthday sweet Lucas!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For most of her life, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg struggled with her weight. Even as a child, Brenda was heavy. She will tell you that her weight prevented her from doing many of the things that most children took for granted, such as riding a bicycle. She might have been able to do it to a degree, but not for very long or very far. As she grew into adulthood, her weight became such a problem that she couldn’t even think of riding a bicycle. Then one day, her health failed due to her weight. She knew that she had to make a change. That day was October 18, 2013…just 5½ months after her dad, Walt Schulenberg passed away. Brenda became a health nut. She learned to eat right, and she walked…slowly and with a walker at first, and later on her own. She walked further and further…often reaching 10 miles a day. The weight came off, and she felt much better. Still, one thing eluded her…riding a bicycle. Finally, the day arrived when Brenda found out that she could ride a bicycle…as long as the peddles were off, and she could reach the ground. It’s called strider riding. It is a bicycle, but the rider basically runs the bicycle down the trail, instead of riding it…and Brenda could do that.
After riding strider style for a time, Brenda was finally able to ride a bicycle in the normal way. She put the peddles back on her purple bicycle and off she went. Brenda became just like the postal service…”Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Ok, Brenda didn’t have appointed rounds…exactly, but she had set herself a goal of riding her bicycle every month of the year. Now, that is not an easy task, especially in the state of Wyoming, where winters can be brutal. Nevertheless, just like the postal worker, neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor gloom of the very early morning will keep Brenda from riding her bicycle. She is determined to ride it, and make up for all the years that she couldn’t even ride a bicycle in the summertime, much less in the winter.
She’s a brave woman, especially when she goes out in the middle of a snow story, and pretty much turns into a snow woman. She reminds me of the Campbell’s Soup commercial where the little boy is so covered with snow that only a hot bowl of soup will melt away all the snow. Maybe she’s not that bad, but she’s close. Brenda, we are proud of your determination, but I do have to wonder if the people driving by the snow woman on wheels have to rubs their eyes to make sure they are seeing what their eyes are telling them they are seeing. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Brian Cratty, who is my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely’s partner, is just as athletic as she is. They love to hike, ski, snow shoe, and a variety of other activities together. Last September, they hiked the Colorado Trail, which culminated in 14,000 foot peak. Jennifer told me that it was pretty difficult, and since that is quite a bit higher than the highest hike I have made, I can only imagine. From what I understand, Brian did very well with it, however. Maybe the fact that Brian is a pilot has something to do with being able to acclimate to those higher altitudes. Brian is retired now, but he spent a number of years flying for Wyoming Medical Center, where Jennifer is a nurse.
While Jennifer likes hiking more than bicycling, the same cannot be said of Brian. When we decided to take a group hike, Brian went off ahead on his bicycle. He crisscrossed all over the trail we were on, but oddly we only saw him once while we hiked. Brian and Jennifer love to spend time on the mountain, and a while back, they came into a sweet deal. They had been using a friends cabin, in exchange for keeping an eye on it, and since he hadn’t been back to Wyoming to use it in quite some time, and had the need for some money to pay medical bills, he offered to sell the cabin to Brian and Jennifer. And they jumped at the chance. Now they spend as much time as they can, at the cabin, fixing it up and just enjoying it. It is going to be really nice when they get it done.
Jennifer has been so happy since she met Brian, and we are all very happy for her. They really make a great team. He is a kindhearted and compassionate person, and that has been a blessing over the past few years, especially when the family lost their dad, Walt Schulenberg. I don’t know if his compassion has to do with his years of flying Life Flight or not, but I tend to think that he is just a very kind person, and he understands the needs of those around him. It is a wonderful trait to have. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Whether you like the bi-annual time change that most states use or not, it is a fact of life for most of the citizens of the United States. Most of us have no problem with the “Fall back” part of the change, because with it comes an extra hour of sleep, and in the winter months, who can’t use that. The “Spring forward” part of the time change…well, that is a different thing. Losing that hour of sleep is just not so easy to swallow. Enter Napping Day.
In days gone by, an afternoon nap was not just a common thing, it was part of the job description. In fact, the siesta is still a time-honored tradition in Spain. It happens right after lunch and can be traced back to the first years of people having jobs. In fact, if you’re in the Mediterranean, it’s pretty much standard everywhere you go. In Italy they call it the riposo, pisolini, and even old Charlamagne, who was a medieval emperor who ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814, has been recorded as having taken 2-3 hour naps in the middle of the afternoon. I want to know where that tradition has gone in our time. I can’t tell you how many times I would have loved to grab a little twenty minute nap in the afternoon.
Fast forward to our time. Daylight savings time rolls around, and you are forced to get up an hour earlier. Most of us couldn’t fall asleep any earlier, and after all, the time change happens at about 2:00am, so why would we go to bed an hour early. The next morning is Sunday, and hopefully you were able to get acclimated to the new time, but more likely than not, you didn’t. So on Monday you are back at it…hard at work, and suddenly you hit a wall. You’ve been a trooper all day. You bravely made it through the morning’s activities…and it wasn’t too bad. Then lunch hits, and that food just makes you sleepy. What do you do? You take a nap! Napping Day encourages you to remember these benefits of youth and take a little time out of the day for you! The idea is to take that little nap, because it really is napping day. I have to wonder just how many bosses would be ok with such an idea. Not too many, I would guess.
As Barbara Jordan, a Texas representative, would say, “Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” I hadn’t heard of her before, but I like her style. Happy Napping Day everyone!!
When a person has Alzheimer’s Disease, everyone tends to feel sorry for them…or so they think. In reality, we don’t feel as sorry for the patient as we do for ourselves. The patient doesn’t seem to know that they are forgetting things, at least not after they are a little way into the progression of the disease. In fact, they truly live in an alternate reality, and sometimes it is a much nicer reality than we live in. If someone in their family has passed away, one of the others becomes that person on occasion. That’s how it is with my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg. Her husband, who is my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg passed away on May 5, 2013, and yet, she talked to him night before last. Of course, she was talking to her son, my husband, Bob Schulenberg, but he like the rest of her family has adapted to her altered reality, so that night Bob became Walt…if only for a minute, because that is how long it takes for that reality to pass and he becomes Bob again. I suppose people might think that strange, but it is actually kindness. She doesn’t have to grieve. Her deceased loved ones are never gone from her. They are there in the people around her, and she is happy.
My mother-in-law does not notice the passage of time, and if she does, it sometimes seems longer than it was. She might tell you that she hasn’t seen you in a year, when in reality it was the day before. Or she might say that you were just here, when you have been out of town for a week. Time is based on her own perception of it at the time, and that’s ok with me. As long as she’s happy, I’m happy.
As her birthday approached this year, I’ve been telling her that February is almost over. She doesn’t always think that is possible, and I can relate to that. Time really does fly by. So, on Saturday when I told her that her birthday was coming, she said it couldn’t be, because we hadn’t had Christmas yet. Now I would love to tell you that I had a quick come back for that one, but sometimes she catches me off guard. I told her Christmas had passed, and it was February. Thankfully she accepted that answer and the conversation moved forward. Yesterday, as we were waiting for the bus to take her back to the nursing home after he check up with the doctor, I asked her what today was going to be. She didn’t know, so I told her that it was February 28th. She perked up. I asked her what that day was, and she said that it was her birthday. I was pleased at that, so I thought I would take it one step further. I asked her how old she was going to be. She didn’t know, so I suggested that she take a guess. Well, I guess that the moment of clarity was over, because she said, “I’m 50 something.” She was only 36 years off, but it doesn’t really matter anyway, because you’re only as old as you feel…right? Happy birthday Mom!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Sometimes, there are events in history that end up tied to other events in history, in one way or another. On this day, December 9, 2003, Tehran, Iran was hit by unseasonably cold temperature, that led to the deaths of 40 people from hypothermia. It is very rare to see such large groups of people die in this way at the same time, but it does happen, as seen in Tehran. Their deaths occurred when their core body temperature fell to 77 degrees Fahrenheit. So, how does this have anything to do with history beyond 2003? Well, it actually does, and not in a good way.
Most of us, these days, know about hypothermia. In fact, the causes and the fixes are pretty well known, but what I didn’t know before, although maybe I should have, is that the information we have on hypothermia came from the horrible experiments that the Nazis performed on the prisoners at the Dachau concentration camp during World War II. These unethical medical experiments that were carried out during the Third Reich fell into three categories. The first category consists of experiments aimed at facilitating the survival of Axis military personnel. In Dachau, physicians from the German air force and from the German Experimental Institution for Aviation conducted high-altitude experiments, using a low-pressure chamber, to determine the maximum altitude from which crews of damaged aircraft could parachute to safety. Scientists there carried out so-called freezing experiments using prisoners to find an effective treatment for hypothermia. While the findings might have been a good thing, the way the experiments were carried out was horrendous. After these experiments, most people knew that if they were outside in frigid temperatures, they could die of hypothermia. Nevertheless, there were a few miracle situations, such as the two year old girl in Canada in 1994, who survived after her core body temperature dropped to 57 degrees Fahrenheit when she wandered away from her home in Saskatchewan.
The second category of experimentation involved developing and testing pharmaceuticals and treatment methods for injuries and illnesses which German military and occupation personnel encountered in the field. Apparently the Nazis felt free to find ways to save their soldiers lives, at the expense of their prisoners. At the German concentration camps of Sachsenhausen, Dachau, Natzweiler, Buchenwald, and Neuengamme, prisoners were subjected to immunization compounds for the prevention and treatment of contagious diseases, including malaria, typhus, tuberculosis, typhoid fever, yellow fever, and infectious hepatitis. The Ravensbrueck camp was the site of bone-grafting experiments and experiments to test the efficacy of newly developed sulfanilamide drugs. At Natzweiler and Sachsenhausen, scientists tested prisoners with phosgene and mustard gas in order to find possible antidotes. Their lives simply didn’t matter when it came to the experimentation.
The third category of medical experimentation sought to advance the racial and ideological principles of the Nazi worldview. The most infamous were the experiments of Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. Mengele conducted medical experiments on twins. He also directed serological experiments on Roma Gypsies, as did Werner Fischer at Sachsenhausen, in order to determine how different “races” withstood various contagious diseases. The research of August Hirt at Strasbourg University also intended to establish “Jewish racial inferiority.” Other gruesome experiments meant to further Nazi racial goals were a series of sterilization experiments, undertaken primarily at Auschwitz and Ravensbrueck. There, scientists tested a number of methods in their effort to develop an efficient and inexpensive procedure for the mass sterilization of Jews, Roma Gypsies, and other groups that the Nazi leaders considered to be racially or genetically undesirable. It is difficult for me to even think about the cruelty that the Nazis inflicted on the Jews and Gypsies during those horrible years.