Humor

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My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg was a hard working man, who held a number of jobs over the years. He drove truck, worked construction, mechanic at the mines in the area, and maintenance at Casper College. Dad was well liked and respected at every job he held. Of course, his favorite job was being Dad to his kids, and husband to his wife, my mother-in-law, Joann. Dad was a gentle man, and he worked hard to allow Mom the ability to stay home and raise the kids. As we all know daycare is very expensive, and if the mom can stay home with the kids, I’m all for it.

Dad’s work often had him leaving the house quite early, like 3:00am, and he usually stopped at the Ghost Town Truck Stop for a cup of coffee to take on the road with him. One day, he came into the truck stop, and was surprised to see his teenaged son, Bob (my husband) in the truck stop playing pinball. Well, I’m sure that you realize that a young teenaged boy (maybe 13 or 14) had no business being in a truck stop playing pinball at 3:00 in the morning. Bob had snuck out of the house, because he loved to play pinball. I can imagine just what was going through Bob’s mind at the moment his dad came up and put his hand on Bob’s shoulder. Yikes!! I can also imagine what my father-in-law was thinking too…”So, do I yell at my boy, or laugh at the fact that my boy wants to play pinball so bad, that he snuck out to do so?” Bob wasn’t out getting in trouble. He just wanted to play a kids game. I have a feeling my father-in-law had a hard time not laughing when he said o Bob, “You had better get home before your mom catches you!!” Well, Bob knew his dad was right, and probably didn’t notice the slight smile on his face. He just knew that if his dad was up and on his way to work, his mom would be up soon, and he had better get home. So, he told his dad goodbye and headed for home. It was a different time. Kids back then were a little safer walking home, especially since it was only a block or so away, so as his son headed for the house, my father-in-law headed for work, probably laughing the whole way.

My father-in-law, was a man who always saw humor in the situations around him. That is one of the things I liked about him from the moment I met him. I was an 18-year-old girl, meeting the family of the man I loved for the first time, and boy, was I nervous!! My future father-in-law, not only made me feel welcome, but he broke the tension (felt only by me) by making me laugh. After that, I never had an uncomfortable moment in Bob’s parents’ home. I found that my in-laws were such easy people to get along with, and that they would always be a blessing to me, but it would always be my father-in-law, who made me feel comfortable in that first dinner with them. I was a shy girl, but after that, I was no longer shy around my in-laws. Such a blessing to be sure. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 92nd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. We love and miss you very much, and can’t wait to see you again in Heaven.

came from a totally different era and had a totally different meaning. For example, when we talk about sitting down with someone to have a long talk, we might say, we are going to “chew the fat” with them. This was originally a sailor’s term, that refers to the days before refrigeration when ships carried food that wouldn’t spoil. One such food was salted pork skin, which was largely fat. Sailors would only eat it if all other food was gone, and they often complained while they ate it. This idle chatter became known as “chewing the fat.”

The “blue moon” is one of my favorite and often used sayings, and it is a real astronomical phenomenon. The “blue moon” is the second full moon in the same month. It’s a rare occurrence, happening just once every 2.7 years, which is how the phrase came to be. Usually, a blue moon just looks gray or white like any other full moon, but on even rarer occasions, the moon actually does seem to change color. During volcanic eruptions or forest fires, the oils in smoke can make the moon appear blue, according to NASA.

We have all walked by the carnival games and maybe even played them. Carnival games nowadays give out stuffed animals as prizes, but in the late 19th century, the games were targeted to adults, not kids. The winners, instead of getting a giant teddy bear, might get a cigar. If they almost won but didn’t earn that prize, they’d be “close, but no cigar.” The phrase stuck as meaning getting close, but in the end, failing to reach the goal. By the 1930s, the phrase became fairly common…even outside of the fairgrounds.

We have all heard the expression “flying off the handle,” but most of us think it is an expression for getting angry. That is true, but it’s not really where the saying originated. The saying “fly off the handle” originates from the 1800s. It’s a saying that refers to axe-heads flying off their handles when swung backward before a chop. The axe-heads were not as securely fastened in those days, so it was a good idea to give the user some space…much like you do when someone gets very angry, and “flies off the handle” is the sense of how the phrase is used today. And, anyone who was on the receiving end of the anger form of “flying off the handle” knew that they probably needed to duck and cover, because the person who was “flying off the handle” was really mad!! The next time you find yourself saying these, or any number of “old sayings” you might want to think about how that “old saying” really came into being. Some are funny, while others might just make you want to “fly off the handle.”

My great grand-niece, Alice Green is such a sweet girl. I love her personality, because she is so loving and caring. For the early part of her life, Alice was an only child. Then her mom, Melanie Harman met her step-dad, Jake Harman and her life changed forever. Before long Alice had a little sister named Izabella, and soon after, a little brother named Jaxx. Siblings was one thing Alice had wanted for a long time. The good news was she only had to wait until she was a little past three to get her first sibling. The lonely days without a sibling were almost over. As soon as Belle could play, Alice was set. She is such a fun-loving girl, and the giggling in the Harman household runs wild…especially with the added kid stuff from Jake, who is a kid at heart.

These days, Alice is growing up quite quickly. At nine years old, Alice is already acting like a teenager. Some kids mature quickly in that way. She is definitely growing up! Alice has her own views and opinions about things these days. In the past, she cared more about her toys and getting dirty as much as she possibly could. Maybe a little bit of a tomboy in her there. These days, her sister and brother are very much her top priority. She loves them very much and enjoys being with them and entertaining them. I suppose there could come a day when Alice will wish her siblings would leave her alone, but that is pretty normal. I think that as the years go by these three will grow closer and closer. They fight, even now, but that is totally common among siblings too. Nevertheless, Alice feels totally blessed to have her sister and brother in her life.

Alice and her step-dad, Jake also have a special relationship. Jake was never one to exclude Alice in any way. When he married Melanie, he accepted Alice as his own daughter. They love to tease each other, and as is common in the Harman household, “random rudeness” is just part of the daily activities. Alice has embraced “random rudeness” and can dish it out as effectively as the next guy. She also loves to just randomly tackle Jake and this give him hugs. He has proven to be a real dad to her, and she loves him very much, and he considers Alice his own child. You don’t have to be related by blood, to be related by love. Today is Alice’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Alice!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Dave Balcerzak absolutely loves his hot rod. It must be a guy thing…well, ok girls like hot cars too. Anyway, Dave loves his hot rod, which is the muscle car he has dreamed of since he got his driver’s license. Personally, I don’t think Dave thought he would ever get such a car. Then to make matters worse, Dave is a trained computer programmer, not a mechanic, so working on such a car…well, it’s not really in his wheelhouse. Nevertheless, this story does have a happy ending, because dreams really do come true.

A few years back, when they were living on Coffman Avenue in Casper, Wyoming, Dave came home and told my niece, Chantel Balcerzak, his wife that he had found the car of his dreams, and begged her to come and see it. They didn’t have the money for a new car, but Chantel went with him. The car wasn’t far away…parked just a block over and down from their house. When Chantel saw the car she thought, “Are you kidding? It’s junk!!” Nevertheless, she kindly did the “Maybe someday, Honey” speech. I have a feeling Dave saw right through that and with a sinking feeling, saw his dream car sinking into the abyss. Dave and Chantel lived on Coffman for 4 years and Dave drove out of his way, at least every other day just to look at that car and mentioned it often. Finally, I asked him if he had ever asked the owner if they were even interested in selling, but he said he would when they had the money.

Five years and two houses later, Chantel decided, to go and ask the man if he wanted to sell. She tells me that she can’t remember the occasion, but remembers thinking it would make the perfect gift. The car was gone, and now it was Chantel who had a sinking feeling. She told Dave and he, rather “dramatically” told her that he was “giving up then!! That was the only one that he wanted!!” Dave didn’t mention the car again, but he did try finding one that might be close…even though he was “giving up” on the whole dream car idea. Unfortunately, every car he looked at was never “right.”

Chantel decided to take a different approach, because she really wanted to make her husband happy. So, she asked the Lord to make it available somehow and then pretty much forgot it. About six months after “giving up,” Chantel was driving to her mom, my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s house. To get there Chantel always take the road past Highland Cemetery, through the light, and up the hill. As she was heading up the hill, there it was!! And incredibly, with a for sale sign!! Chantel pulled over and called the number listed. For an absolute steal, she bought the car for Dave for Christmas. Oh, and it ran!! Chantel was definitely impressed with that part!! The car is a 1967 or 1968 Pontiac Lemans. Funny that she bought it, and still doesn’t know the year!! Hahahaha!! Chantel is not a car girl, that’s for sure!! As I said, Dave never really trained as a mechanic, so apparently he spends more time cussing it than driving it, but he still says it’s “his favorite” next to Chantel, of course. Chantel says that he has to say that to her, but I think it’s the truth, because Dave has loved Chantel since they were kids. Today is Dave’s birthday. Happy birthday Dave!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Katie Balcerzak is the mother of a sweet little three year old girl, who keeps her and her husband, Keifer Balcerzak on their toes. This summer has been a busy one, with little Reece playing t-ball for the first time. As most parents of a new athlete, especially a young one, can attest, learning the sport can have its challenges. Reece seems to have no trouble hitting the ball, but doesn’t seem to understand that she is supposed to run to the base after hitting the ball…no matter how much her mommy tries to tell her by yelling from the sidelines. I guess nobody told Reece that she had to run when she signed up. I don’t blame Reece. I don’t want to run either. I know that Katie and Keifer will get Reece lined up on the way the game is played, but in the meantime, they are having a good time watching her.

Katie is a great mom, and along with Keifer, they have raised a very smiley girl. I don’t think Reece’s goofy side just comes naturally. I think there is a lot of giggling, laughing, and goofing off that goes on in that household. That makes sense really. Since Reece’s premature birth and long hospital stay, bringing her home was a time of celebration, and celebrate they have. Everything is a good reason to laugh, and Reece has embraced that part of her parents. I think that if parents can give their children the gift of laughter, they have given them the best gift ever, and she has blessed them because life is great. They have their baby girl making life funny.

Katie and Keifer have been a couple…like forever. They were kids really, when they met. The have been married for just over six years. They are perfect for each other, and their love is strong. While dealing with the premature birth of their daughter, they were both a rock to each other. Any kind of problem with your child’s health is a tough thing to go through. Some end well, and others don’t. The couple needed to stay strong for each other, even when they feel like falling apart. Katie and Keifer did that for each other, and when Reece was able to come home, victory was theirs. I don’t know if that victory is why they named her Reece Victoria or not, and I suspect it was because of her grandma, who is also Victoria. Nevertheless, victory was theirs, and they are very blessed to have their precious, victorious, goofy little girl. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Melanie Harman is married to my grand-nephew, Jake Harman. Jake is quick to say that Melanie is an amazing woman who puts up with him constantly yelling, “Mom help!!” It is only every now and then that she tells him to “shut it!!” You see, Jake is not calling for him mom, but calling Melanie “Mom,” because she is the mother of his children, and she often says she has four children, and not three, because Jake is just “a big kid” at heart.

Melanie is always putting others ahead of her own needs…everyone in fact, and especially her kids. When Jake first met his sweet wife, the first thing he noticed about her was just how sweet and kind she was. She was also quiet, but Jake says that the longer they are together, the more like him she becomes. That is common, as people are married a number of years. Jake says that she can be randomly rude, just like he is. They are joking, of course, and it usually brings a round of laughter for them and those who know them. Melanie is Jake’s best friend, and he says he falls in love with her more and more every day. Jake is a jokester, yet even with all his picking on her, he marvels that Melanie still chooses to wake up to him every morning. Jake attributes their marital success to God, because as Jake says, “Only God could make some one as perfect as her, and only God would bless a sinner like me with her.”

Melanie is a hard working woman. She works 6½ hours a day as a bus aid then 4 hours cleaning buildings for Cleaning Solutions. Then she goes home to take care of her three kids or as she says four, because as Melanie says and we all know, Jake often acts like one!! To demonstrate that fact, the family recently made a trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. On their way back to Casper, Wyoming, there were about 100 Wall Drug billboards and at every single one of them Jake would tap her arm over and over and say, “Mom…Mom…Mom!! Look…look!!” Melanie would look at it and then look at Jake and say, “You do that one more time, and I’m going to beat you!!” She never did, of course, because she is full of love…even for people they don’t know.

Sometimes, when Jake is driving his bus for the disabled, the family comes and rides the bus with him when he is on the route busses. Melanie can talk to anyone, and that shows on the bus. No matter who starts talking to her, she never tells them to stop talking to her or leave her alone, no matter how mixed up they might be. Melanie always listens and talks with them. Melanie has a kind heart and that shows in all she does. The developmentally disabled can see that kindness in a person more than other people can. They can tell that it’s okay to talk to some people. They see that kindness in Melanie, and so do I. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Elliott Stevens is quite a girl. She is totally funny, without even trying. Her imagination runs wild, and she doesn’t need anyone else to make her fun. Sure, she loves to play with other kids, especially her cousins, but she is just as happy to play at home, totally entertaining her parents, Kayla and Garrett. Elliott sets the pace for the day with her antics.

Elliott loves to play make-believe and dress-up, a fact her grandmother, Alena Stevens knows well, so she is always looking for outfits for Elliott. On our recent trip to Wisconsin, Alena found the perfect birthday gift for Elliott…a chef’s outfit, complete with a chef’s hat, apron, and hot mit. The apron expressed Elliot’s imagination perfectly. It said, “Miss Bossy Boots.” It’s not that Elliott is any “bossier” than any other child of three years, but she does like playing the mom/boss/teacher kind of parts. Well, the outfit was a huge hit, and Elliott spent much of her birthday party wearing the outfit, and serving her guests a make-believe meal, that she had prepared herself…of course. Now we just need to add her adorable cowboy boots to the mix.

Elliott love to swim, and her parents got her a wading pool, which is great for these hot summer days. Elliott also loves to slide, and her pool has a slide, so she can do both things together. She also loves the big pools and the lake. Recently, the Stevens family got together at the lake, and Elliott got the chance to really swim. She loved it…so much so that she didn’t want to get out…even to warm up. Her little lips were so cold that they were almost blue and she was shivering. Nevertheless, she wanted to stay in the water. She finally had to get out, of course. Maybe they coaxed her with smores or something. I don’t know for sure, but I now she had a wonderful time, as she always does. They even managed to tame her many curls with the cutest little braids.

And speaking of wonderful times, Elliott got to go to the fair this year. I don’t know if it was her first, but I know that she had a blast. She rode every ride that could take her on, as well as the fun house, which her daddy had to go with her on. It was comical to see Garrett running after his little princess while trying not to bump his head, because the fun house is mostly designed for little kids. I laughed and laughed when I saw the video. Garrett is a great dad, and little Elliott keeps him wrapped firmly around her little finger…along with her mommy too. They are both quite taken with their little princess, Miss Bossy Boots, tumbling, swimming, entertaining baby girl…as are we all. Today our little Elliott turns 3 years old. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As I was thinking about my brother-in-law, LJ Cook’s birthday, I decided to talk to his daughters Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith about the special memories they had of their dad. Susan started thinking back on all the experience her dad had gained while he was in his working years, and how that made him the person he is today. She thought, and I agree that those things are LJ had been a Deputy Sheriff and later a truck driver, but he really always wanted to live in a small town. I think he liked knowing many of the people he lives around. So, he and his wife, my sister-in-law, Debbie moved their family to Thermopolis, Wyoming. They loved living in Thermopolis, and my girls, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce loved going up there to stay for a week in the summers to hang out with their cousins. Then LJ got an offer he couldn’t refuse, and the family moved to Powell, Wyoming where he began managing Empire Gas. That move would change the life paths of the whole family. Susan tells me, “Dad was the manager of the store, and was put in charge of all the propane tanks in the Big Horn Basin, which is a big area. It was his job to go to each tank and refill them. It was the late 1980s, so there were more people then using propane than there are now. They needed the propane to cook, and some to heat their houses with. He tells me about some of the places he got to go to switch out the tanks. He met a huge array of people and got to see a lot of cool places that the average person doesn’t get to see, since all of the tanks were on private land. Listening to him talk about the job made it sound like the most ideal job.” I think for LJ, it really was.

LJ has always been a jokester. He told Susan about this one day at work. There was a bee (or some kind of bug) on the window sill of his office while he was working at Empire Gas. He said he somehow cut the head off the bee (Susan thinks he said with his pocket knife). Well, it kept flying around without it’s head. Every time it hit something it world sting it. Susan says, “He said he told his secretary what happened and she took off out the front door. Which is exactly what I would have done if there was an AWOL bee flying around. He laughs so hard when he tells the story. It must have been pretty funny to see her take off out of there so quickly.” And speaking of bees and LJ, apparently they really don’t bother him a bit. LJ’s daughter, Machelle tells me that he has been helping his best friend, Bill with his bees!! LJ does cover up a little, but doesn’t mind getting stung. Bill has a truck load of bees he goes and gets every year in California. LJ goes around to different places where Bill has the bees to collect the honey for him. I guess he wouldn’t have run out of a room with a bee in it.

Recently, LJ had to have back surgery. He was in so much pain, he could barely walk…with a walker. Following his back surgery, LJ Cook had to take things rather slowly for a while. He and Debbie normally spend much of the summer in the Big Horn Mountains camping, but this year was turning out to be vastly different. As he has recovered, he has been able to start swimming, and hopefully that will help with recovery and mobility. He has really missed out on things since his back really got bad. His daughter, Machelle told me that they did manage to get up to the Big Horns over the 4th of July to spend time with the family, and they really enjoyed it.

Machelle told me that LJ has several extra vehicles, and so decided to sell a couple of them. It was his grandson, Easton, who decided to buy the Bronco. Machelle remembers that when they first got the Bronco, she was never allowed to drive it. So, now that her son is going to be the owner, and not her dad…will Machelle be allowed to drive it? Time will tell, I guess. With this family of jokesters, my guess will be…not for a while, hahahaha!!!

Susan tells me that while she was growing up, if she was in a bad mood he would always find a way to make her smile and feel better. You could say he is the best girl-dad Susan could ask for. Even though he used to embarrass her terribly sometimes. Susan reflected, “A few weeks ago, I came down with a bad bug that gave me a low grade fever and it made me think of when I was super little, I would go sit on my dad’s lap and just sitting there made me feel a little better. When I was sick, I was wishing I could go sit on my dad’s lap. Well that definitely can’t happen anymore because I would then get him sick and the world seems to be a different place with regard to sicknesses right now. I know I can still go sit on his lap, but it’s just not the same as an adult.” No, I don’t suppose it would be. Today is LJ’s birthday. Happy birthday LJ!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Zoey Iverson is an active six-year-old girl with a vivid imagination. Zoey is into sea animals like octopus, jelly fish, and mermaids. I’m quite sure that her little girl’s mind can imagine herself diving and swimming beneath the ocean…looking for octopuses and jelly fish, but secretly hoping to find a real mermaid. She might even decide to bring home a starfish or two, because lets face it she is swimming far beneath the ocean and this is all make believe anyway, right.

Like most six-year-old girls, Zoey loves Barbie, and that makes Barbie Live TV on YouTube a big deal. When Barbie was invented, somebody knew little girls and had the right idea, because Barbie has the glamor and the accessories to make every little girl’s dreams come true, but it’s not the only thing Zoey likes to do. Zoey is learning to ride her bicycle. She is using training wheels, but we all know that doesn’t last long. Kids figure out their bicycle and the freedom it provides pretty quickly. Zoey also love to swim in the pool in the back yard. With the heat of the summer, the backyard pool is the best place to be, and this summer has been pretty hot.

Zoey is headed for 1st grade next year. She will be the youngest student in her class, but she is excelling very fast, so she will not be the bottom of the class by any stretch of the imagination. Zoey is a very smart girl, and loves to learn. She loves writing, practicing her letters, and…coloring everything…even the walls. Yikes!! Its a good thing most crayons wipe off easily, and there re good cleaners to help. After all, an artist needs her canvas…wherever it may be. Imagination simply cannot be corralled!!

With summer, the family has been camping and enjoying the scenery. With the Big Horn Mountains nearby, and so many other beautiful spots in Wyoming, the are lots of camp grounds to choose from. Zoey loves to catch bugs with her bug catcher, go swimming in the creeks, and spend time helping her older brother, Lucas, who is special needs. Zoey has been instrumental in his development. We are all very proud of her. She loves Lucas so much, and he loves her. That might be the reason she is doing so well in school. Teaching others is a great way to learn. Today is Zoey’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Zoey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Raelynn Masterson, is growing up…right before our very eyes. Suddenly, Raelynn is 18 years old…an adult. Covid had an effect on Raelynn, like it did every student, except those who were exclusively online. Many students have chosen to do things differently now, and Raelynn is one of those. So, this past year, she switched from Natrona County High School (NCHS), to our third high school, Roosevelt High School, and not only does she love it, but it has been the best for her learning style. NCHS is a large school, and so there are larger classes, meaning that each student has less individual time with the teachers. The online classes showed Raelynn that the one-on-one time was important to her. NCHS also has longer class times, and alternating daily schedules, where Roosevelt uses the old method of the same daily schedule and shorter class times. Either schedule works, but Raelynn’s personal preference is the old style.

Recently, Raelynn started a new job, her second, at Walgreens, which is where her mom, Dustie Masterson works, but not they are at opposite stores. Raelynn is at the westside and Dustie at the eastside store. Raelynn got tp work once at her mom’s store, and mid-August, Dustie is going to help out at Raelynn’s store. They get along great, so working together, even if only occasionally is a lot of fun. They both have the same sense of humor, and they don’t get embarrassed about some of the goofy things I (and Dustie) have posted online about them. They both love to be silly, and it’s rather a no-holds-barred situation when it comes to teasing. Being a “good sport” is a must when they are teasing each other.

Raelynn has not been in a hurry to learn to drive, in fact she didn’t even start to learn until this past year. She is taking it slow to make sure her really has a good handle on it. There is no sense in rushing and then immediately having your first accident. There are a few kids out there who start out driving like “an old lady,” and never really change that. I think I would rather see a prudent new driver, than one who scares everyone who is in the car with them.

Turning eighteen and graduating from high school next year, Raelynn is looking to the future. She knows that she wants to get her own apartment after high school. She already has a friend in mind to be her roommate, so that’s good. She also plans to go to college. She is a good student, and she wants it all. She has a couple of ideas on what she wants to study, but nothing that has been nailed down enough to say for sure. Nevertheless, she is planning ahead, and that makes Dustie and Rob (Raelynn’s dad and Dustie’s husband) very proud.

Planning ahead is one thing. Having the cool things you want in life is another, and while Raelynn is saving and planning, she did spend that whole first check on…well, her mom doesn’t really know, but stuff she needed, apparently!! Nevertheless, once Raelynn sets a goal, nothing is going to stop her. Dustie says, “She reminds me a lot of me, but much sweeter. She must get that from her dad! This year marks her as an adult but when I look at her I still see my first little miracle (quite literally) from God. He must have known better than me what I needed in my life.” I just couldn’t have said that any better. Today Is Raelynn’s 18th birthday. Happy birthday Raelynn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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