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When my grandfather first met Chief Red Cloud, it was an eye-opening experience for sure. I’m not exactly sure how old Grandpa was at the time, but since Red Cloud died when my grandfather was 16 years old, I have a timeframe to start with. Red Cloud was born near the forks of the Platte River in 1820 (exact date is unknown). He was one of a family of nine children whose father, an able and respected warrior. Red Cloud lived in an exemplary life. He was faithful to one wife all his days and was a devoted father to his children. He wanted great things for his only son, known as Jack Red Cloud. He wanted his sone to be a great warrior too and started him on the warpath at the age of fifteen. Of course, at this point, Red Cloud didn’t realize that the days of Indian warfare were very close to an end. Among the chiefs of his era, Red Cloud was known as a quiet man, simple and direct in speech, courageous in action, an ardent lover of his country. He possessed all the manly qualities characteristic of the American Indian in his best days. Red Cloud lived a long life and died on December 10, 1909, of natural causes.

Red Cloud, like most chiefs was a warrior in his day. He was famous for Red Cloud’s War that took place between 1866 and 1868. Nevertheless, Red Cloud was a wise man, and he saw that if his people were going to survive, they would have to make peace with and learn to coexist with the White Man. He was also a man who wanted peace. In 1887, he opposed the Dawes Act, which broke up communal tribal holdings and allocated 160-acre plots of land for subsistence farming to heads of families on tribal rolls. Then, the US declared additional communal tribal lands as excess and sold them to immigrant settlers. In 1889, Red Cloud opposed a treaty to sell more of the Lakota land. Red Cloud and Sitting Bull steadfastly opposed the 1889 treaty, but government agents obtained the necessary signatures for approval only through cheating, such as using the signatures of children. Red Cloud negotiated strongly with Indian Agents such as Dr Valentine McGillycuddy, who was an honest man and highly respected by the Lakota. For the rest of his life, Red Cloud advocated for Native American rights to the Black Hills. During this time, June 15, 1893, to be exact, my grandfather was born in Springfield, South Dakota. The advocating Red Cloud did in those years was less violent, and more intellectual, although not any more fruitful than any other advocating he did. There were very few White Men he trusted…among them, my great grandfather, Cornelius Byer.

My great grandfather was invited to the Pow Wows and invited to sit in on their tribal meetings. He was also so respected by the Native Americans, that when he was dying, they all came to see him…bringing their wives and children to tell him goodbye. When he passed away, they followed him as far as they could toward his final resting place in Iowa. That said, between the year of my grandfather’s birth and the death of Red Cloud, I believe when my grandfather was about 12 years old, my great grandfather took my grandfather to visit Red Cloud. The Native American culture was quite different than the White Man’s. When Great Grandpa and Grandpa went into Red Cloud’s teepee, he was sitting there under a blanket. Red Cloud stood up to get a peace pipe to offer to Great Grandpa and the other men in the room. That was all fairly normal, even for my grandfather, but the fact that Red Cloud was naked was not something my grandfather was used to. In fact, my Aunt Sandy tells me that she doesn’t remember ever seeing her dad shirtless. He always wore at least a t-shirt, whether indoors or outdoors, in Summer or Winter. I’m sure Grandpa’s eyes were as big as saucers, until his dad nudged him, basically telling him not to stare. Grandpa sat quietly while the men talked, and then the peace pipe was lit. As it was handed around the circle, Red Cloud handed it to my grandfather. My grandfather looked at his dad, and Great Grandpa nodded his head. With that one motion, my grandfather was allowed to take his first puff of a peace pipe. I don’t know if Grandpa ever met with Red Cloud again, although I assume he did, and I don’t know if he ever smoked a peace pipe again either, but he did that day, and it was a moment in his life that he never forgot. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out that he smoked the peace pipe again either. It was a story he told to his children many times through the years. It was a sign of respect from the Lakota toward my grandpa, and from my grandpa toward them. Today is the 131st anniversary of my grandfather’s birth. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandpa Byer. We love and miss you very much.

My great grandnephew, Max Herr is a very busy boy these days. He comes from a pretty athletic family, and so it stands to reason that he would also be into sports. Right now, he is in t-ball, basketball, and swimming, and if that isn’t enough, he also “coaches” his mommy, Katy Herr in her workouts. Not bad for a little guy of just four years today. Max loves to go golfing with his daddy, Dylan Herr too.

Max loves all things boy, so things like sports, superheroes, monster trucks, and any other “boy stuff” you can think of. He loves his mommy and daddy very much, but right now, he is pretty much a “Mama’s Boy,” for a little longer. Boys tend to end up being “Daddy’s Boys” pretty early on. Nevertheless, his Mommy is enjoying it while she can. Katy tells me, “I’m loving every second of it, he is truly my best friend.” Max has the kindest heart and is always making sure everyone is okay. It’s a rare trait in a little boy, to be the one to make sure that everyone around him has what they need to make them happy. Still, that is what Max is all about. He is also HILARIOUS and loves to make people laugh. That is something that is written all over his face every time he smiles. You can tell that he just seems to have an internal joy…such a cool thing. He is one of those kids whose face lights up when he smiles. His whole face smiles when he does, and you can totally tell that he is one happy kid.

When it comes to other kids, Max isn’t around many, but his cousins, Reece and Asa Balcerzak are his best friends (in the world of kids, anyway). He loves hanging out with them. When he goes to school, of course, all that will change. If I guess right, I would say Max will be the “life of the party” and the kid will lots of friends, when he is in school. He is really quite a social guy. I most often run into Max when he and his mom are out shopping. Walmart seems to be the meeting place of many. He always has a smile on his face, and that warms my heart. Max is just a great kid. Today is Max’s 4th birthday. I can’t believe he is four already. Happy 4th birthday Max!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandnephew, Jaxx Harman is such a sweet little boy. His mom, Melanie Harman, tells says, “This little boy has been a blessing, of course, from the very start!! He is always just so full of energy and joy. With a smile that will brighten the darkest of days!!” He is all that for sure. He loves doing anything that will bring a smile and happiness to those he loves. Every time I see him, I feel the same way.

While Jaxx is very sweet and filled with joy, he is also filled with goofiness!! Melanie says, “Plus, he is the goofiest kid you will ever meet. He came in one day to say ‘goodnight’ to us and as he was shutting the door he got down on his knees holding the doorknob in his hands and started hitting himself lightly with the door saying ‘for some reason the door is broken and it won’t close’ with his perfect little smile and goofy giggle. He says the weirdest of things at the weirdest of times like ‘I’m not a pickle Sr!’ Ha ha, which is weird cause no one has ever accused him of that!! The other day we looked out in the backyard as he was swinging, and he ust started scream singing ‘I Need A Hero’ by Bonnie Tyler!! He loves to say ‘I ain’t afraid of no ghost’ and then asks ‘who you gonna call.’ Then says, ‘Ghostbusters!!’ Ha ha” One second, he is walking next to his parents normally, and the next second they look at him and he’s walking like a goof! He loves to put smiles on everybody face, and he will do whatever it takes to make that happen.

This year, Jaxx got a new baby cousin, when his Aunt Siara and Uncle Chris had their little baby, Nathaniel. Jaxx loves his baby cousin so very much!! Jaxx loves playing video games, but above all else, his all-time favorite thing to do is to hang out with his best friend, and his big sister Izabella. Jaxx is a very smart little boy and is so much fun that he always keeps his family laughing almost to tears. Melanie and Jaxx’s dad, Jake Harman praise God every day for giving them this perfect little dude! Melanie says, “Our life would definitely be incomplete without him.” I agree!! Today is Jaxx’s 7th birthday. Happy birthday Jaxx!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I’m told that the Sun weighs 2,000 million million million million tons. That if course, sounds very heavy, and I suppose it could be fairly accurate. Nevertheless, for me these questions arise. How do they know the weight of the Sun? Who was it that somehow managed to go out there and weight the Sun? And where did they get a scale big enough to set the Sun on to get this very accurate sounding weight? Ok, I’m being sarcastic, but then again, these are legitimate questions. I’m told that there is a formula they use to figure the mass of a planet.

First one has to calculate the mass of the Sun. There are apparently several ways to do so. One way is to use Kepler’s third law: “M = 4r³?²/T²G, where r is the distance between the Earth and the Sun, T is the time it takes for the Earth to orbit the Sun, and G is the gravitational constant. The mass of the Sun is about 2×10³? kg.” Another way is to use the mass formula: “Mass = Density x Volume. The mass of the Sun’s core is estimated to be 3.0 x 10³¹ kg, and the mass of the outer shell is estimated to be 1.1 x 10³¹ kg.” The third way is to “divide the total mass by 1.98855 times 10 to the 30th power.” From what I can see, the common methos is the Kepler’s third law. Once you have that figured, you are ready for the next step…the weight of the Sun.

That process is as complicated as, or nearly as complicated as the methods to figure the mass of the Sun. Apparently, it all has to do with the mass of the Sun, the mass of the Earth, the gravitational pull on the Earth by the Sun, and the distance between the two squared. Or more scientifically written, “The gravitational attraction between the Earth and the sun is G times the sun’s mass times the Earth’s mass, divided by the distance between the Earth and the sun squared. This attraction must be equal to the centripetal force needed to keep the earth in its (almost circular) orbit around the sun.” If that makes perfect sense to you, then you are likely a better scientist or mathematician than the average person. So even if I could fully understand that process, and I don’t, I still have to ask one question, where is the proof that its true and accurate. I realize that there is no way to definitively prove the weight of the Sun, the Earth, or any other planet, and maybe this is somehow he most accurate guess possible. I don’t know, but maybe they should say that the Sun weighs approximately 2,000 million million million million tons. At least, that would stop such silly questions from people like me.

I have been very privileged to have had two men that I called “Dad” who were both among the kindest men I have ever met. My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg became my second “Dad” when I married my husband, Bob Schulenberg in 1975. He was a hardworking man, almost to the point of being a workaholic, but that was common for the times and the bigger families that people had. My in-laws, Walt and Joann had six children, of which my husband was the third child and first boy. In big families, there is, by necessity, a certain amount of joking and teasing. It’s really the only way to make sure the kids aren’t always fighting. Everyone’s kids need to know how to hake a joke. They also, need to know how to tell one in good clean fun. Dad taught them well, as did my parents, so Bob and I were quite compatible in that way, as well as many others, of course.

My father-in-law spent most of his childhood living on ranches and learned his work ethic there. When you are raising cattle, there is little sleeping in until noon. As with most kids of that era, the workload was shared. The parents couldn’t be expected to take care of everything, especially when there are perfectly healthy kids who can help. He helped with chores around the house, and later with everything from feeding the animals to branding them. Over the years he raised some animals of their own, although not to the grand scale that he had grown up with. I was raised in town, so cows, chickens, rabbits, and the like were a little foreign to me. Nevertheless, if you put your mind to it, you can learn just about anything, and my in-laws were good teachers.

Later in his life, my father-in-law moved my mother-in-law and their eldest daughter, Marlyce to town. While he no longer raised animals, he planted a garden in the back yard, from which my mother-in-law canned the vegetables. His also built a hobby barn, really just a tall and fairly large shed, where he could tinker around making different crafts. He made wooden toys and wind spinners. They graced his yard for the rest of his life, as well as may yards around town. People would see them and want to buy them. He also refurbished lawn chairs, actually making them far more beautiful than they had previously been. He was an accomplished contractor, though mostly just for himself and his family. Nevertheless, he did make so steps for people and a few other things over the years. His was a life well lived, and it makes me sad that he has been gone for eleven years now. Nevertheless, time marches on, and today I find that he did leave us eleven years ago today. I still miss him every day.

My aunt, Deloris “Dee” Johnson was always such a cheerful, fun-loving person. My sisters and I loved when she would come over to visit our mom, her sister, Collene Spencer. I especially loved her laugh. It was infectious and contagious. Aunt Dee left us far too soon, when she contracted Brain Cancer. She was just 65 years old. That was a very sad time, because we would not see her beautiful, smiling face for a long time…until we see her again in Heaven. Aunt Dee loved life, and always looked forward to the next day, and the next adventure. She had a way of inventing fun, and everyone around her benefitted.

When she was a kid, there were no video games, and while television was a thing, not everyone had one. Even if they did, kids did not spend hours watching television. Kids went and played outside. They played games like kick the can, hide and seek, blind man’s bluff, and many others, I’m sure. Basically, if it was daylight, and their chores were done, kids played outside. Aunt Dee one time got out a big trench coat and she and my mom, her sister, Collene Spencer, did a little “flying” in the wind. They had a blast. Aunt Dee once learned a new dance in school and upon her arrival home, immediately taught it to her siblings. I think she might have been a great schoolteacher. She loved kids and loved to teach things to others.

Aunt Dee was George and Hattie Byer’s, my grandparents, third child and third daughter. Later she would have 8 siblings, two brothers and six sisters. While Aunt Dee was very loving and kind, she did not take kindly to anyone picking on her family, and was known to tell a few people off, if they got on the wrong side of her. Nevertheless, for the most part, she was a quiet, sweet mannered person, and she was loved by all who knew her. She loved doing things for her family, like catching fish at the river, and putting them in a wading pool for the other kids in the family to enjoy. She bought a piano for the family for $35.00, and it was in her mom’s house until her passing. Grandma really enjoyed that piano. She could actually play is a little. Her grandkids “played” it too, but I’m sure Grandma didn’t enjoy that very much at all. In fact, I’m sure that was considered more like “pounding” on it than actually playing it. It was probably pure torture. Whether Grandma love the noise or not, she did love the gift from her daughter. Today would have been my Aunt Dee’s 93rd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Dee. We love and miss you very much.

My niece, Kellie Hadlock is one of those rare people who never seems to have a bad day. If she does, she certainly never shows it. She is always smiling and laughing. I remember my mom telling us that we shouldn’t frown because our face would get stuck like that. Well, Kellie’s face has certainly become stuck in a constant smile, and that is not a bad thing at all. Kellie shares her birthday with one of my favorite ancestors, my great aunt, Bertha Schumacher. I never met Aunt Bertha, but her journal has been a plethora of information on the Schumacher side of my family history for years now. Kellie isn’t a writer, nor is she specifically anything like Aunt Bertha, but they do share their special day…no charge for that tidbit…that was put in for free.

Kellie’s sister, Jessi Sawdon tells me that Kellie is the fun aunt. Jessi lays claim to being the cool aunt, but every kid loves it more when Aunt Kellie is around. It’s easy to love Kellie, because she loves to laugh and loves life. Kellie loves singing and is one of the worship leaders at church. She and her dad, Chris Hadlock practice many songs at te house, while he accompanies her on the guitar. Her mom, Allyn loves those practice sessions. It’s like having her own concert. Jessi’s daughter, Adelaide absolutely loves to sing like Aunt Kellie. As kids, Kellie’s older siblings, Jessi, Ryan Hadlock, and Lindsay Moore never missed an opportunity to tell Kellie to shut up, because she was always singing. Jessi has received a little payback these days, because now Adelaide is doing the same thing. The good news for Adelaide is that they don’t tell her to shut up. Jessi figures her mom felt the same way, you just can’t tell your sweet little girl not to sing…even if her siblings can. Kellie just does all the “Kellie things” and that makes her fun.

Kellie has become a knitting/crocheting extraordinaire. Jessi isn’t in to that stuff, so she isn’t sure she could tell the difference. Kellie learned a long time ago from her Meemaw (Ramona Hadlock), and seemed to like it, but she didn’t love it then, like she does now. These days, everyone enjoys watching Kellie as she quickly goes from start to finish of a project, and how great they look. Kellie has been doing a lot of crocheting. She has been considering starting a small business called Kingdom Crochet. Kellie makes hats, headbands, blankets, etc. And they are beautiful. This would be a “side gig” as she still works at American Title, where she has been six years.

Kellie has been dating her boyfriend, Tim Thompson for a while now, and they are doing well. Kellie especially loves Tim’s sweet daughter, Jolene Thompson. Kellie took a trip to Cheyenne for Jessi’s birthday, and they all went out. They had a great time, and Jessi especially enjoys those visits, because they get her all to themselves. Today is Kellie’s birthday. Happy birthday Kellie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Jake Harman has been a very busy guy this year. There are a lot of changes going on. Jake has wanted to get his Class A CDL license, and this was his year. Now he has a new job with Meyer’s Logistics, as a delivery driver, that has him traveling from Casper to South Dakota, which for our family is a favorite place…and also to Nebraska and around Wyoming. Jake has been heading for a job like this for a long time. Prior to this, he has been a bus driver for the schools and the city busses. He loved his jobs, and the people he drove to their destinations, but he needed something more. Some people just have a call to the open road.

Jake’s wife, Melanie tells me, “He still is just the biggest goofball ever, but we all love it so much!!” Jake has an amazing imagination, and they decided to set up a Laser Beam Game for their kids, Alice, Izabella, and Jaxx in their hallway at home. Jake came up with the story line that was fantastic and his excitement and enthusiasm with it just made it so much better. So, as the story goes, “Mom (Melanie) was frozen by a monster which was Dad (Jake) ha ha, and the only way to save Mom was for each of them to get down the hallway and back without getting hit by the lasers. Along the way, they had to find their one item to put on Mom to unfreeze her before the monster got them all! It was so much fun lol!!”

All of his babies absolutely love him and his energy!! I think that because Jake is mostly a kid himself, he can totally relate to his children. Their home is filled with laughter, excitement, and amazing playtime. Jake is an amazing dad and loving husband. He is one of those husband’s that never forget to let his wife know what a blessing she is to him. He is always telling Melanie how beautiful she is and sending her texts saying, “You are God given, life without you is life not worth living.” Melane says, “It melts my heart Every time!!” Melanie has been struggling with some depression issues lately, and Jake has been amazing at helping her try to get through…doing whatever he can to help right now.

Jake loves his baby sister, Siara so much and her husband, Chris along with their new baby Nathan (Nathaniel). He is so happy to have this new nephew in his life. Jake’s kids, wife, and his sister’s little family are by far his best friends!! He would do anything for any of his family…no matter who it is!! And anyone who knows Jake very well, knows just how true that statement is. Jake is a giver and a helper, and he has a loving heart that is as big as the great outdoors. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Dave Chase loves life, and he likes to live it big. That said, this year was apparently slow, but good. I love hearing about all the adventures Dave and my niece, Toni Chase go on. They do some of the coolest things. This year, Dave stayed true to his usual, consistent self, with lots of travel, including his yearly trip to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament in Colorado last March, then squeezing in some skiing on the way home. Dave loves all sports, and so he made countless fishing trips, stayed active in basketball, softball, golf (indoor and outdoor), aa well as, cribbage. He also went to Laramie for several football and basketball games. Dave likes to stay busy and connected to the world of sports. It’s just in his nature.

While Dave might be totally connected to the sports, his family takes priority over even that. He and Toni make several trips each tear to Centennial to see his mom, and the rest of the Chase clan. It’s always a great time. The most “memorable” of the Centennial excursions was when Dave decided that he, his little brother Dan, his little sister Jane, Toni, and their pups, Biscuit and Cricket should all make a trip on the back roads from Laramie to Centennial to Steamboat Colorado to look at the changing colors of the leaves. For Dave and his brother, who have the nice comfortable front seats with lots of legroom, the trip was great. The girls and the pups were relegated to the back seats, and it was a bit different. Toni tells me that she, Jane, and the pups were “crammed in the backseat for 7 hours on the bumpy back roads from Laramie, Wyoming through Walden, Colorado over Rabbit Ears Pass to Steamboat Springs and then back through Steamboat Springs via Hogs Park Reservoir (Medicine Bow National Forest) to Centennial, Wyoming. While that trip was a bit of a trial for Toni (only because of the long drive and now because of the family, whom Toni loves), Dave has always taken her on some really nice trips as a couple too. This year, as a way to get away, they went to Marco Island, Florida for some relaxation and fun in the sun.

The fact is that Dave never stops!! And that’s a good thing. It keeps him young, and as anyone who knows Dave will tell you, he is very much a big kid!! He is also an inspiration and a motivation to anybody he comes into contact with!! Dave is nothing is not consistent, and that consistency is not only one of his many great qualities, but one of Toni’s favorites. It gives their lives stability, and it is something Toni can always rely on. She says that it is very comforting. Toni is so impressed with Dave’s consistency, that she took time to look up some synonyms of the word. Synonyms of consistent are “reliable, trustworthy, unfailing, dependable, and harmonious.” How very much perfect those words are for Dave. While that may seem boring to some people, Toni says, “They obviously haven’t met Dave.” I would have to agree with her, Dave is anything but boring. Instead, he is, absolutely dependable, reliable, and trustworthy. In fact, Toni says, “Harmonious is his middle name!! and as for Dave being ‘unfailing,’ well…just ask him.”

Dave has been a loyal employee, of the Bureau of Land Management, for almost 40 years…just 17 days shy of said anniversary…another way his consistency shows. Dave works as a petroleum engineer and as Supervisory Petroleum Engineer for the last 15 years. On December 26, 2023, Dave was granted The Superior Service Award of The Department of the Interior. He also won the Club Championship for Casper Cribbage in May. And on a funny side note, Toni sent me this funny story. “Sandy one of the ladies that Dave works with said that she had this picture from a day when Dave jumped in this new three-wheeler, because he thought it belonged to one of the girls they work with new. As it turns out, it belonged to the district manager…and to top it off, it was actually his wife’s, and she had said that he could never drive it…and then Dave just goes and jumps in it!!” Dave was in the driver’s seat before the district manager got to be there. Somebody is going to be in trouble!! Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg’ grandmother, Vina Hein was born of Groundhog Day. I don’t know if she thought that was cool or not, but I suspect she did. I think it would a fun birthday to have. Not that I would want it to be mine. Isn’t it funny that our birthday…no matter which day that is for you…always seems like the most special birthday of all. Most of us wouldn’t change that day for any other day. It doesn’t matter if it’s a holiday, the first day of the month, the last day of a month, or any day in between, it’s your own day…and that’s all that matters.

Of course, as for Groundhog Day, for the “Winter Weary” ones of the population, that is an important day. I’m sure that Punxsutawney Phil gets his predictions wrong as often as he gets them right. Nevertheless, countless numbers of people watch the news to find out what he had to say today. This turned out to be a rare year, in which Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, and therefore predicted an early Spring. It’s not really surprising, in that we have also had a mild Winter, but it is not common for Winter to give up so easily…and trust me when I say, that I really hope the prediction is correct. I, for one, and over Winter, with the first snow. I can get all the Winter I need in a picture or a Christmas card. I’m so ready for April showers that bring May flowers. I’m ready for lovely walks along the trails near my house, and the greenness that I hope we get again. Come on Spring!!

I think Grandma Hein would have agreed with me on that one, because Winters on the ranch were not easy. The Montana winters can be really harsh, and when you live on a ranch, you might find yourself snowed in for weeks at a time. I can picture Heaven for Grandma as beautiful spring flowers, and soft breezes, not to cold and not too hot…and not too much work to do. Although, I can’t imagine her just sitting around too much. She did like being busy. I look forward to seeing her again, when I get to Heaven. Today is the 115th anniversary of Grandma Hein’s birth…and Groundhog Day too. Happy birthday in Heaven, Grandma Hein. We love and miss you very much!! And Happy Groundhog Day, everyone.

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