Humor

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As children, most of us have been on the receiving end of a form of “torture” that really isn’t exactly torture for most of us, but rather just good clean fun…provided that the torturer knows when to stop. My sisters and I were among the experts of our era…at least four of us were. The fifth sister, the middle one, Caryl Reed, was an “accomplished” victim…not because she chose to be the victim, but rather that she was the one we most loved to tickle. She was just such a great victim!! We would tickle her until she could hardly breathe, and then we would show some “mercy” and let her “live to be victimized another day.”

I always thought my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I were very clever at coming up with something totally new…the Tickle Torture, but it turns out that Tickle Torture is an ancient form of actual torture. Who knew? Certainly not my sisters or me. Our form of torture, barely resembles the ancient form, or the form that still exists to this day among military circles. As it turns out, the tickle torture began in 260 BC, as far as anyone can tell, when the Han Dynasty appears to have implemented the technique as a reliable punishment that didn’t leave marks. It was used by both the Ancient Romans and the Chinese. I have heard of some of the brutal forms of torture that the Romans used, and I suppose at first this seemed like one of the most humane forms of torture in their entourage. It seems that they would apply salt on the soles of feet and then have a goat lick it off. If you have ever had an animal lick your hand, you know that they usually have a rough tongue. At first, the torture must have been crazy in an extremely ticklish sort of way, and very likely the victim laughed until they could hardly breathe. As the torture continued, the rough tongue of the goat began to actually cause extreme pain…sometimes even lacerating the skin of the feet. The Chinese used this torture on the nobility because there was little evidence left behind and recovery was quick.

People have mixed feelings on tickling. Some like it, but some don’t. I have always been of the mind that if someone really hates it, it should not be done. Of course, the victims in those days had no choice, and I doubt if anyone really liked that kind of tickle torture. I guess that if a person really hates the tickle torture, they might be able to understand how some groups in history have come up with ways to turn it into an actual form of torture. In the actual torture, people might pass out, vomit, and some even died…at least it went that far in the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. I suppose that for anyone who lived through any of that or knew someone who did, the tickle torture would not be funny at all. Still, tickle torture was not as bad as some of the other forms of torture used in ancient times, nor was it often as deadly as those other forms.

Actual Tickle torture is still in use today too, and not just in various households across the world. Special operations forces may actually use it in interrogations, as a method of non-lethal torture to be employed by governments to gain information from a suspect. I don’t know how they would actually get any information for a victim, unless their form of torture took a painful turn, but then I’m not an interrogator, so maybe they know something I don’t. What I do know is that my sisters and I had many happy sessions of applying the tickle torture to our sister, Caryl.

My grand-niece, Adelaide Sawdon is a sweet little girl with lots of personality. She learned the fine are of making faces for selfies very early on, and she is quite good at it. Really, it’s all part of her humorous side…which is the main side of Adelaide right now. She loves teasing, and making everyone around her laugh, and then she grins and acts as if she didn’t do a thing…or sometimes she looks at you with her “Gotcha” face, and laughs hysterically…and you know that “it’s on!! Adelaide is ready to get you good.

Like her Aunt Kellie, who Adelaide loves very much, she has an infectious laugh. It could be from spending time with Kellie, who has such a great sense of humor, and wouldn’t have to teach Adelaide the ropes…she could just be herself, and Adelaide would learn the ropes from that. Every day is a learning experience for Adelaide. She has parents, Jason and Jessi Sawdon, who are both very smart, and enjoy teaching their daughter things. Everything from school work to silliness, because they both have a great sense of humor too. Adelaide loves to do silly things, but she loves to dance too…especially if it involves twirling around in her favorite…a full skirt. Of course, I don’t know of any little girls who don’t like to twirl on the dance floor.

Adelaide has great cousin-friends too, Ethan and Aurora, who are both great friends to her, and then she also has Mackenzie, who lives in Laramie, but this year will get to visit quite a bit. Mackenzie and Adelaide are close in age…just a year apart, and so they share the same interests. Adelaide has her cousins in Michigan too, with whom she got to go camping this summer. She was very excited about seeing her cousins. They camped by Lake Michigan, with a beautiful view of the Mackinac Bridge. I’m sure the grownups really enjoyed the view while relaxing at the campground, but my guess is that Miss Adelaide only cared about spending time playing with her cousins. Of course, what child doesn’t love to go swimming or playing in the water. None that I know of. I’m sure that Adelaide and her cousins had an absolutely wonderful time camping in Michigan. Today is Adelaide’s 4th birthday. Happy birthday Adelaide!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Dustie Masterson, like most mothers of mostly girls, and one boy, says that her “Bubba,” as she calls her son, Matthew befuddles her quite often with his “boy” ways. While I had two daughters, I had three grandsons and one granddaughter, all of who I was very involved with, so I can totally relate to Dustie’s dilemma with Matt. Dustie’s befuddlement comes from not being raised with a man in the house, so I’m sure that my nephew, her husband, Rob adds to that befuddlement too. He certainly did for me when he was a kid. As to Matt, he loves to “torture” his sisters, Raelynn and Anna, with whom he is the middle child. Boy torture can be enough to make the sisters want to “sell” their brother, as my granddaughter spent years wanting to do with her brother. Matt does torture his sisters, but if anyone outside of their family even thinks about even slightly upsetting the girls…look out!! Matt will take them out…seriously!! When he isn’t “torturing” his sisters, Matt is very into online gaming, and seriously competes with his buddies. He likes it so much, that he asked his Uncle Dave Balcerzak…our family computer guru, to build him a gaming computer. Dave did a great job, and Dustie tells me “That thing is awesome.”

Dustie and Rob really count on Matthew for a lot. The family recently got a kitten named Pita. Pita is very small and got under Rob’s foot while he was getting ready for work. He stepped on her very badly. Rob had to go to work, but Pita needed to get to their vet in Glenrock, it was an emergency. Dustie ran downstairs and woke Matthew up, saying, “We gotta go now.” He didn’t argue, but got right up and they left to make the 20 minute drive. When they arrived, Dustie realized two things. She had forgotten shoes, and Matt, remembering his shoes, forgot his shirt. She borrowed his shoes, and they went in. Matt had held the kitten the entire way, keeping both the kitten and his mom calm, praying and telling his mom that Pita would be ok. By God’s grace Pita lived through the ordeal.

Matt loves to cook. Dustie is going to have to go to Rock Springs to help with another store for a few days, and Matt is going to do all the cooking. He already has the entire menu planned out. Since schools closed because of Covid-19 Matt walks to Dustie’s work just about everyday. The girls at work love seeing him (and so does his mom). Matt loves to experiment with wild hair colors, and the girls at Dustie’s work love to see what color it is now. Dustie says that Matt is very particular about his appearance. He likes the name brands and when we go clothing shopping, while he gets the same amount as the girls for shopping, he always chooses to spend it on a few items. As Matt grow up, he has also become very protective toward his mom. If he thinks something is heavy, he carries it. If she is headed out after dark, he goes with her. He has grown up to be quite like his dad…protective over those he cares about. Dustie is having to fight the urge to always shield him and allow him learn to shield those around him. He is becoming quite a young man. Today is Matt’s 15th birthday. Happy birthday Matt!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Sean Mortensen is an all around athlete, which is quite possibly where his daughter, Jadyn gets her athleticism…there and from her mom, my niece, Amanda Reed. The whole family loves to get out and “live life to the fullest.” Normally that is pretty easy to do, but in an era of social distancing, we have all found ourselves cooped up for a lot of the spring. For that reason, Sean and company were very happy when he state opened up to camping, even if it was with social distancing. They figured you could get a bunch of friends together with their boats, and do some social distancing at the lake, so that was what they did. There is always something going on at Seminole Lake, and Sean’s family is there for a lot of it. I can’t confirm, but they might be part fish…at least in the summertime. Sean loves to fish and it is often a competition to see who can catch the most or the best fish…especially with a bow, and he seems to be pretty good at it.

Sean is also a hard working man. He works at the Sinclair Refinery and is a great support for his girls. He is a great partner to Amanda, and a great dad to Jadyn. He also keeps all of their vehicles and toys in tip top shape. They house they bought is very nice, and they are always making improvements and doing upkeep. Sean wants his family to have a very nice place to live. They are building a sweet little life. Hard work aside, Sean and his girls are very social people. They like to laugh and have fun with their friends. They are always the life of any party, and the fun in any outing. When they are there…well, let the party begin.

This year has been very strange…for most people. For Sean and his family, social distancing is like playing a game of “who can be the quietest.” You know, the game where you are not supposed to talk, even though you have so much to say…often the reason your parents wanted you to play it. Well in this version, they are supposed to stay away from the friends that they have amazing times with, and…well, lets put it this way. They are really looking forward to a time when social distancing is a thing of the past, and they can get back to the party. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In a day and age when more and more young people are so intent on “fitting in” that they lose sight of who they really are, my grand niece, Raelynn Masterson is, refreshingly, not a follower. Raelynn remains true to herself, and she is just fine with who she is. Her mom tells me that she is a lot like both her parents, and while that may be true, I don’t think it is genetics, as much as it is good upbringing. Raelynn figures that if you like her…great, but if not…it’s your problem, not hers. I think that is the best way to be.

Raelynn is a has such a sweet attitude. She is a good big sister, and is always kind to her siblings. She is helpful when they need it, and that is especially nice when their parents are at work, and her siblings need some advise and encouragement. Their parents know that they are in good hands when Raelynn is there with them. There is, of course, a difference between a sweet attitude, and a pushover, and Raelynn is no push over. Once her mind is made up, it is and she won’t be moved. If you try to cross her, and you make the mistake of making this girl mad…well, as her mom says, “I’ll pray for you.” Personally, I have not seen that side of Raelynn, but then we are not really on opposite sides of things, and maybe I think I’m glad we aren’t too.

As with most people, the things going on in our world have caused Raelynn to look more closely into politics. Her parents have encouraged their children to look into a matter, and make an informed decision about where you stand. That’s a good way to be. We have too many blind followers, as it is. Raelynn, and her siblings, Matt and Anna, as well as Christina (who is grown and living on her own), are not required to agree with their parents views on things. Their parents, Rob and Dustie, think it is important for them to make up their own minds, even when they don’t match their parents views. Raelynn’s opinions on politics don’t always match those of her parents, but she is required to look deeper into things before forming her opinions…using legitimate sites (or, as close as you can get these days). There have been a few heated debates between Raelynn and her brother, Matt, which have required a parental mediator at times. My guess is that there have been some between her and her parents too, but that really is the only way to learn about politics and I’m sure that as time goes by, her opinions will grow and change, whether they ever match those of her parents or not.

The family recently got a dog, and as often happens with pets, Azura has decided that Raelynn is “her human.” They are so close, and almost inseparable when Raelynn is home. It was completely unexpected, but if Rob or Dustie are looking for one, all they need to do is find the other. Raelynn and Azura are practically joined at the hip. The hardest part about this “exceptionally close” relationship, is that whenever Raelynn is gone, Azura is totally miserable until she gets home!! That could be really bad when school starts again. Azura just loves Raelynn so much. I can see why, because we all do too. Today is Raelynn’s 17th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Every child, at some point in their academic career, is required to do a science fair project. Some are good, because let’s face it, some students are very good at science…or some kids have parents who can do the project for them. I watched a show recently in which a couple of students were making volcanos for the science fair. I started thinking about some of the science fair projects I did during my own academic career. I really don’t recall ever making a volcano, and I knew that you used baking soda, but that was about all I knew. I suppose it’s possible that one of my teachers made one in our science class, but maybe not too.

I remember several of my own science projects. I think most of us build our solar system…again, some much better than others. If science wasn’t your forte, it just wasn’t. I didn’t mind science, but it wasn’t really the thing I wanted to do with my life either. I just wasn’t inclined to apply myself to the different aspects of science. Nevertheless, I did like the solar system, even now. I find the constellations very interesting. At one time, I could pick them out.

One time, I decided, or rather it was suggested to me, by the neighbor across the alley to build a radio. He was trained in electronics, and we had a great time building that radio. I think Mom and Dad had just as much fun as we did, because they watched with great interest as we soldered transistors and other components together to make a radio that worked, even if it wasn’t small and cool like a transistor radio, but rather like a jewelry sized army green box. Nevertheless, it worked, and while I didn’t win the science fair, I learned a lot about how a radio worked, and after all, isn’t that the whole purpose.

One of my projects, however, will always be remembered as the the grossest/funniest (now, not then) project I ever did. My poor mom!! I decided to do a project on honey. It seems benign enough, and I did know that honey came from bees. I guess I thought I was going to cut out pictures of bees, but Mom had other ideas. Somehow she managed to talked to a beekeeper, who willingly supplied us with honeycomb, which I thought was very cool. We put it in a baggy so it wouldn’t leak everywhere, and put it on the board we were putting my project on. That was great, however…the beekeeper also supplied him with 50 or so dead bees to put on the board. They were in a box, and we had to put them in a baggy…or rather my mom had to put them in a baggy. I don’t like bugs…of any kind, and I refused to touch them. In retrospect, I suppose we could have used a spoon or something, but Mom bravely began to pick them up and put them into a baggy…until they started clinging to her. Then, she was just as grossed out as I was. Somehow, I don’t recall how we finally got those wretched, dead bees into their baggy, but somehow we did, and the project was completed. I learned a lot about the making of honey too, and that I never wanted to touch a bee…dead or alive…EVER!!!

My future grand nephew, Dylan Herr comes from great stock in the business world. His family has been in the shoe business for three generations. His dad, Rob and mom, Dee Dee own nine Red Wing Shoe Stores in Colorado, and Dylan owns three, including the newest one in Brighton, Colorado. They have been in business since 1970, beginning with his grandpa, Bob Herr. They stores were recently featured by the BBB and their Featured Business of the Week. In that article, they revealed that as of 2020, they are the largest Red Wing dealer in the world. Now, that’s an amazing feat…if you’ll pardon the necessary pun, an amazing feat for the feet. I suspect that my silly pun has quite likely been heard by the Herr family many times before

Dylan joined our family when he and my grand niece Katy Balcerzak became engaged recently. The were also blessed on June 14, 2020 with their first child, a son named Max Robert Herr, and he is just such a cutie!! While Dylan can’t say that his life was ever in the dumps exactly, because he has worked hard to be a success in his dad and grandpa’s footsteps…another almost pun (there seem to be a number of them in this story), having becoming engaged and having a son have to rate very high in the annals of his life history. It’s pretty hard to beat the rush of pride one feels when becoming a parent.

Dylan and Katy are such happy people. They are filled with love for each other, and for their new little son. Their family is such a blessing to the rest of their families, and their happiness is a joy to watch. Dylan seems to have moved into fatherhood with ease and grace, and it’s obvious to anyone who looks at them, that daddy and son love each other very much. It makes me so happy to see Katy’s life so filled with love, and I think Dylan will make a wonderful husband for her. It is obvious to me, that when he looks at her, he is very much in love with our Katy. I am very excited for their future together, and very happy for their current lives that are so filled with joy. Today is Dylan’s birthday. Happy birthday Dylan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When we think of eavesdropping, we think of trying to listen in on the conversations of people around us for the purpose of malice. However, not all eavesdropping is like that. I like to sit quietly in a room listening to the conversations going on around me, because you can learn so much about what other people think. My Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher Hallgren, who wrote a wonderful journal about her family’s lives and the world they lived in at that time. Bertha quoted Charles Lamb, who in 1890 said, “I love to lose myself in other men’s minds.” I feel that way about eavesdropping.

If we are honest with ourselves, we all listen to the conversations going on around us. I can’t tell you how many times several tables in a restaurant end up in a conversation, because someone at one table said something that struck a chord with someone at another table. It is impossible for a person with good hearing not to hear the conversations going on around you, and I don’t think of it as being snoopy. Our ears were designed to listen to things going on around us. Maybe it was originally so that we could hear impending disaster, such as a growling bear, a tornado, a rushing flash flood, or screeching car tires, still our ears can’t avoid hearing the child saying something hilariously funny to its mother, the couple talking about something they don’t understand, or just the family saying something that you passionately agree with. We hear it, and eventually, our mouth cannot help itself, and we find ourselves engaging in the conversation we were just eavesdropping on.

Yes, sometimes people get annoyed when we try to engage in their conversation, but often, they do not get upset. Today, while my husband, Bob and I were riding the 1880 Train in the Black Hills, a trip we take every year when we go to the Black Hills, overheard the couple behind us talking about the many cars that stop and wave and take pictures of the train at every crossing. As I listened to their incredulity, I could stand it no longer. I turned and told them that people loved the train so much that they followed it from stop to stop to wave and take pictures. I was not being rude, just telling them about the love people have for the 1880 Train. They loved it. They asked if we lived in the area, and when we said that we just came every year, the conversation was on. We talked about the Harney Fire Lookout Tower on what is now Black Elk Peak (Formally Harney Peak), and that Bob and I have hiked it 14 times. Then I showed them a picture of us at the top. After they looked, the people behind them wanted to see too. I think they might have been traveling together, but I’m not sure. They might have been eavesdropping too. It was a great conversation, and no one was upset by the eavesdropping, in fact, they and we enjoyed the resulting conversation very much.

Every security detail prides itself in being able to stop any attack that might come toward the person or persons they are assigned to protect. Allowing a threat, any threat…be it a serious threat, or a minor prank…to get by the security check points, is seriously embarrassing and can be very dangerous. Never was this more widely publicized than on May 28, 1987, in Moscow.

Early on that morning, a young man named Matthias Rust, a 19 year old amateur pilot from West Germany, took off from Helsinki, Finland and headed east. Rust flew his small Cessna airplane through 400 miles of Soviet airspace, somehow undetected, and landed it in Red Square by the Kremlin. The stunt was an immense embarrassment to the Soviet government and military…to say the least. I would think that “heads would roll” figuratively speaking. Red Square should be some of the most seriously protected airspace in the world, but here a 19 year old kid blew through the protections they had in place, and brazenly landed his small plane right in the middle of Red Square!!

Rust was not a known troublemaker. His mother said that he was a “quiet young man with a passion for flying.” He had no known political or social agenda when he took off from the international airport in Helsinki and headed for Moscow, so what was the purpose of his flight and subsequent illegal landing. He entered Soviet airspace, but was either undetected or ignored as he pushed farther and farther into the Soviet Union, but how was that possible. He arrived over Moscow, early that morning, circled Red Square a few times, and then simply landed…just a few hundred yards from the Kremlin. The people in the square, mostly curious onlookers and tourists, believed that Rust was part of an air show. They quickly surrounded him, probably wanting his autograph. Then, very quickly, Rust was arrested and taken to jail. The charges were severe. He was tried for violating Soviet airspace and sentenced to prison. I don’t know if the charge would have normally gained him a longer prison sentence, or if they took pity on him because of his age, but Rust served 18 months before being released…probably a relatively short sentence in retrospect.

The repercussions in the Soviet Union, however, were immediate. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev fired his minister of defense, and the entire Russian military was humiliated by Rust’s flight into Moscow. The United States officials didn’t make matters any easier either. They had a field day with the event. One American diplomat in the Soviet Union joked, “Maybe we should build a bunch of Cessnas.” The Soviet officials were not amused. Just four years earlier, the Soviets had been harshly criticized for shooting down a Korean Airlines passenger jet that veered into Russian airspace. Now, being able to stop one teenager’s “invasion” of the country, the Soviets became the laughingstocks. One Russian spokesperson bluntly declared, “You criticize us for shooting down a plane, and now you criticize us for not shooting down a plane.” No matter how you look at it, the situation was, to say the least, militarily embarrassing.

My grandson, Caalab Royce met a girl a while back and they have been almost inseparable ever since. Her name is Chloe Foster, and she is as sweet as she can be. These kids are perfect for each other. Both are dedicated to their families and to each other’s family too…and the cool thing is that their families like each other too. It’s always special when you can join two families…because the kids got together. When Caalab met Chloe, his whole life changed. I really didn’t hear about anything else but Chloe, and when we met her, we could see what he saw in her. Her personality was totally infectious, and I enjoyed meeting her very much.

As Chloe’s birthday approached I began to wonder about this girl who holds my grandson’s heart. I knew that she is studying criminal justice in college, and that she is a Christian, which makes me very happy. She has a sweet spirit, which I have seen in the things she posts. Caalab tells me that she has been spending part of the “shelter-at-home” time in which we have all found ourselves, studying the Bible. She is a girl who prays and allows God to lead her in the way she should go. These kinds of things make my heart glad.

Chloe is also a very talented artist. She recently sat down and is just a few hours she had painted a watercolor picture of Bob Marley. Caalab really likes Bob Marley, so he was very impressed with her work. I don’t know too much about Bob Marley, but I know enough to recognize him in her painting. She did a good job. Recently, I friended Chloe’s mom on Facebook, and when looking at her pictures, I saw some of the funnier ways that Chloe uses her artwork…namely, greeting cards. I won’t display them here, but let’s just say she thanked her parents for their part in giving her life…her mom for Chloe’s first home, and her dad for putting her and her brothers, Tyson and Tanner, in the race in the first place. The cards were tastefully done, and very sweet in a funny sort of way, but they told me more about this girl who has loved cows for much of her life. I thought it funny, when my granddaughter, Shai Royce, Caalab’s sister, told me to buy Chloe something with a cow on it for Christmas…now, I can see that Shai knows Chloe pretty well. Shai loves Chloe as much (well almost as much) as Caalab does. As a grandmother, I can say it is heartwarming to know that someone cares so much for my grandson…that she not only holds his heart, but she protects it too. Today is Chloe’s birthday. Happy birthday Chloe!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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