Me

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Today marks a proud day in my life, as my granddaughter, Shai Royce takes the first steps in her journey to follow in my footsteps, by becoming a Commercial Lines Processor for Rice Insurance in Bellingham, Washington. The really cool thing is that to a large degree, she is also following in her mother, Amy’s footsteps too. My daughter, Amy is a Personal Lines Account Manager for Rice Insurance, and they will be working across the street from each other, which is awesome!!

Shai’s insurance career actually started when she was just 14 years old, and living in Casper, Wyoming. Her mom and I were both working for Jim Stengel at The Stengel Agency, and we needed a customer service representative to pick some of the slack in our busy office. Enter Shai, who worked for us off and on for a couple of years, taking only a short break when she needed a job with more hours after school. Shai did a great job for us in our office. She learned quickly and she was very helpful. We were sorry to see her go when she moved to Bellingham, Washington to be near her parents and brother. While in Bellingham, Shai worked at several jobs, with the longest one being Red Robin, and the last one being Mako Fly Reels. Shai liked her jobs, and especially the people she worked with, but the jobs just weren’t fulfilling for a girl with Shai’s abilities, and her prior training, so when an opening came up in her mom’s company, Shai applied for and won the job.

Today is the first day of Shai’s new career. I am very excited for her as she begins this great new journey in her life. Since I have been both a personal lines agent, and a commercial lines agent, I can say while there was much to learn in commercial lines, it feels great to be able to help a business owner with the coverages they need to protect their business, so they can focus on making a success of their business. I know that because Shai is starting this career at a younger age than I did, she will have the years ahead of her to become a great commercial processor, and maybe further than that if she is interested in becoming an agent or an account manager like her mom. I think it’s awesome that Shai is going to be working in the same great company as her mom, and following in her mom’s footsteps and in mine. Have a great first day on the job, Shai!! We are all very proud of you!!

Not everyone can say that they were blessed to have two amazing women be their moms, but I can. My mom and my mother-in-law were both so instrumental in my life, and because of them, I am the woman I am today. My mother, Collene Spencer raised five daughters, Cheryl Masterson, me, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock, in that order. Sometimes I must say, I’m amazed we didn’t driver her crazy. It wasn’t fighting as much as it was the noisy laughter that went along with playing…loudly. And the little girl giggles. Many people have wished and even told their children to quiet down, because the laughter was getting too loud, and our parents did too, but as often as not, the laughter was encouraged…and even instigated by our parents. They loved having a house filled with joy and laughter, and well…ours certainly was. I recall the many forts we built, the messes we made playing house…all over the living room, the tree house in the back yard, that wasn’t as much tree house and it was just tree, but we liked to climb up there anyway. The things five girls can come up with are sometimes wild, but Mom was a patient person.

After I was married, my mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg also became Mom. She was a different kind of person than my mom was, but her qualities were no less endearing. Living in the country, and having a garden, made canning a common project, and I had never really done any of that, although my mom knew how. I remember the big canning sessions and the in-laws’ house. We worked and talked and especially, we laughed. Everyone had a great time, and we came home with provisions for the family. My mother-in-law, try as she might, never could quite win me over to the idea of knitting, crocheting, and sewing as an everyday way of life, not to mention the marathon Wednesday grocery shopping event, and maybe that was a disappointment to her, but if it was, she never said so and never made me feel like she was disappointed in me. She always made me feel like I was not just her daughter-in-law, but really her daughter. I was always amazed at the wonderful things she made, and thankful that my family always benefitted from her beautiful crafts.

I have always felt blessed to have the moms I did, and now, with them both in Heaven, I find myself missing them very much. It seems impossible that they could have been gone from us for so long now, Every day I miss them and wish that I could visit Heaven for an afternoon to see them and my two dads, as well as all the other loved ones who have gone on ahead. Happy Mother’s Day in Heaven to my two moms, I love and miss you both very much. And happy Mother’s Day to all moms out there.

Recently, while watching a couple of television shows, I noticed that the latest term for retirement is Second Act, and I found that term to be rather interesting at this particular time in my own life. As my retirement neared, I began to make some mental notes about what I wanted it to look like. Of course, the obvious things came to mind…the trips we want to take, the work around the house that has been put off for far too long, and yes, sleeping in a little bit, but what else did I want this time in my life to be about. Of course, there is also the increased amounts of time to spend with family. Trips to Bellingham, Washington to visit our daughter, Amy Royce and her family, Travis, Shai, and Caalab, and to meet Shai’s guy, Jordan Chapman and Caalab’s girl, Chloe Foster, are definitely on the list. More time to spend with our daughter Corrie’s family, Kevin, Chris and his girl, and Josh, who live right here in Casper, but with all of us being so busy, we don’t see them as often as we would like. And of course to visit with our great granddaughter, is a high priority too. She is growing up so fast, and I don’t want to miss out.

As a blogger, the obvious next step is continued writing, and I will be blogging and advertising for my work alma mater…The Stengel Agency, and I am really happy to be staying close to everyone there, because they have been a huge part of my life for as much as 22 years, depending on the person. My life has been richly blessed by each and every person I worked with at The Stengel Agency, as well as their family members, who have become a part of my family too. My retirement will always include them, because they are of vital importance to me. Insurance has been a vital part of my life for 30 years now, since I first became an agent with the Don Foster Agency, before moving to The Stengel Agency in 1996. I would say that I am dating myself, but I think the word retirement has already done that, so the number of years as an insurance agent makes now really difference in that respect. Insurance has been good to me, even though it was not the career I had expected to have. Insurance made sense to me from the start.

As a writer, I have always been interested in writing a book. I guess we will see where that idea takes me, because I have no idea what I would like to write about…for a book anyway. Nevertheless, I’m sure it will come to me, because I have had no trouble coming up with story ideas in the past, so the future will simply bring with it longer story ideas. I’m sure that our travels will also help with writing ideas. Hiking the many beautiful trails we have in this country cane be very inspiring, whether I’m writing about nature hikes or World War II. And, speaking of hiking, that is going to be a big part of my Second Act. The weekends never seemed long enough to get out and hike the mountain trails on Casper Mountain, but with the whole day, every day off, I think we might be able to squeeze them in once a week, at least. There are so many things that have been going through my mind as the day approached, and now that it’s here, I guess the time has come to begin. I’m still not totally sure what my own Second Act will look like, but I’m excited to begin to find out. I’m ready for anything!! So, let the adventures begin!!

by guest writer – Brenda Schulenberg

Caryn became part of our family on March 1, 1975…over 44 years ago, when she married my brother Bob!!! Little did any of us know at that time that Caryn would become such an important part of the Schulenberg family. Most of us don’t really remember too much of life without Caryn being a part of it. She has been a major part of our family for so many years now…and I would never want to imagine our family without her as a part of it.

In the early years, Caryn spent most of her time raising her two girls, my nieces, Corrie and Amy. Then, before we knew it along came her four grandchildren Chris, Shai, Caalab and Josh. All of Caryn’s Grandchildren have a big place in her heart. She really enjoys being a Mother and Grandma…and on May 30, 2018, Caryn became a Great Grandma to Chris’s daughter who is a sweetie and is very special to all of us, but especially to her Great Grandma Caryn!

On October 14, 2018 Caryn’s faith in God was brought to life. On that day her husband Bob, my brother, suffered a heart attack. We were all very scared and thanks to Caryn’s faith in God, some very fast responders and some miracles too, Bob made a full recovery. Not that they needed it but Bob and Caryn now realize how special they are to each other.

Through the years, and as both sets of parents aged, Caryn was the primary care giver for all four parents…hers and Bob’s. It was tough on all of us to lose them, but they are in a far better place now. Also in October 2013, when I got sick Caryn saved my life by convincing me that I had to go to the hospital.

Caryn has always enjoyed bowling. She and Bob also like to go on walks and hikes when the weather permits. Bob and Caryn enjoy traveling for their annual hiking/anniversary trip to Thermopolis and to the Black Hills. They also travel for bowling tournaments too.

Caryn has spent the last year focusing on her health and my brother Bob’s. Caryn always has been very aware of how important good health is for all of us, but now that she is not having to care for all of our parents she has been focused on herself for once…and she has been very successful in this area!

On May 1, 2019 Caryn is going to start a new journey…it is called semi-retirement! She is still going to help out at The Stengel Agency some from home and when they need her (oh no she may be working more than she did before)!!!! Bob and Caryn have an adventure coming up towards the end of June. They will be flying to Everett, Washington, then driving to Bellingham, where they will visit Amy, Travis, Shai and Caalab. Following that visit, they will board the Amtrak Train in Seattle for a trip to Chicago, and then flying back to Denver before driving home. Caryn and Bob are very excited for this trip and many more to come. I’m sure Caryn like everyone else that is retired will find herself very busy with traveling, hiking, her great grand-daughter and of course blogging!!!! Watch for information on her upcoming Retirement Party which will be held at a later date when the weather is good enough for a fun outdoor party.

Caryn is an amazing woman! She is one of the best sisters-in-law (I consider her my Sister) that I could ever ask for. Today is Caryn’s birthday and I just want to say Happy Birthday Caryn. We all love you and appreciate you very, very much!!!!

Saint Patrick’s Day…a day to celebrate being Irish. For me, Saint Patrick’s Day always felt like a borrowed holiday…probably because I don’t live in Ireland. The reality is that while I don’t live in Ireland, I am part Irish…9% to be exact. With the Irish in my family history, I would have expected my percentage to be for that 9%, but the reality is that most families migrated around the world, and while a family might have been in a country for centuries, they may not have originated there. Nevertheless, I had and still have family who live in Ireland, so I guess that makes me enough Irish to make Saint Patrick’s Day as much my day as it is anyone else’s. In reality, it is a day to remember the patron saint of Ireland. Saint Patrick was a missionary who heralded the shift from paganism to Christianity in the fifth century, when he was in his 40s. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated on what is believed to be the anniversary of his death…March 17.

It is traditional to wear green on Saint Patrick’s Day, but why is that? Legend has it that if you’re wearing the color green, the quintessentially Irish, fairy-like creatures called leprechauns won’t be able to see you. And if they can’t see you, they can’t pinch you. Interestingly, before Saint Patrick’s Day got started, leprechauns were known not for wearing green but red. These days, the leprechauns have begun to outsource pinching to the rest of the world, or maybe we just took it over. Even the Irish flag has green in it. It is deeply symbolic. The green represents the Irish Catholics, the orange represents the Protestants and the white represents peace between the two. The green itself is called “shamrock green.” And speaking of shamrocks, shamrocks are one of the national symbols of Ireland, and not without reason. St. Patrick himself used the green, three-leaf clover to teach the Irish about the Holy Trinity: one for the father; one for the son; and one for the Holy Spirit. The four-leaf clover is just a symbol of good luck, if you believe in luck. Personally, I prefer blessing over luck.

When a large population of the Irish came to the United States in the mid-1800s, they wore the color green (as well as the Irish flag) as a point of national pride, further solidifying the relationship between the color green and the Irish…in the American imagination anyway. But lets face it, it’s really about the kid in all of us. Celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day with pinches and shamrock accessories might seem silly, but it can be a great way to spend a day being a little bit on the goofy side. Friendly pinches of those who are forgetful, and show up with no green, is a great way to spend that one day…often still cold and even snowy, having a little bit of silly fun. And then there is the green beer, the green Chicago river, and the green clothing, hair, and beards of our friends.

Naming your baby is a big job, and not one to be taken lightly. The name you bless them with, or sometimes stick them with, is very important. Of course whether the name is a blessing or a curse is a matter of opinion. Some people think you should give your children common names, while others don’t want their child to have the same name a dozens of other kids born that year.

My parents were of the persuasion that their kids were unique, and so their name should be too. If not in pronunciation, then in spelling. Every one of their daughters’ names are spelled in an unusual way…Cheryl, not Sheryl; Caryn, not Karen; Caryl, not Carol; Alena, not Elena; and Allyn, not Lynn. While our names don’t necessarily sound different, very few people spell them correctly.

In my family there are a number of unusual names. Chantel, Corrie (for a girl), Garrett, Lacey, Keifer, Siara, Shai, Caalab, Aurora, Reece (for a girl), and Jaxx. Some are hard to pronounce and some are hard to spell. Either way, they are all unique. We also have some in my husband’s family that are unique…Corrie and Shai (who are in both sides of the family), Machelle, Weston and Easton (who are brothers), Marlyce, Jala, Kaytlyn, Hattie (it’s making a comeback), and Bowen (which I hadn’t heard before). I guess there are a number of us who like the unique names.

Every year lists come out to tell of the most popular baby names. The celebrities are famous for giving their children unique names. Moon, Apple, North are just a few that are easily recalled. Some of them make you wonder just what they are thinking, but apparently they all have their reasons for the unusual names. Names are important as they help to create our identity to the world and to ourselves. Unique Names Day takes a moment in the year to celebrate those who have these interesting names. We are the people who can never find our name on souvenirs, and other personalized items. We have to create our own, have it spelled wrong, or just skip it. We are never on any lists that are produced with all the common names that are out there depicting funny situations applying to names…sometimes that may not be a bad thing.

Someone, at some point realized that unique names was something of some significance, and Unique Names Day came into being in 1997. Since then it has been a yearly occurrence. There are some things that people with unique names go through that those with common names never think about. As children who want keepsakes with their name on it, visiting a tourist attraction or taking a trip there is rarely an item that people with these names will ever be able to have. While that may seem like a small thing, for a child trying to fit it, it’s a big deal. When there is nothing that they can ever find with their name on it, they feel like they don’t really belong.

Unique Name Day is the perfect chance to embrace those with unique names. Having a day just for those who put up with repeating their names, spelling it, teaching people how to say it and rarely having any of the fun trinkets with their name on may not take away any frustration, but it can help make new memories! Find out is their name from their cultural background? If you are the one who walks through life with a unique name, you can take this day to revel in your uniqueness. This day can be used to find out the story of how your parents picked this name for you. My own mom liked the name Karen, but didn’t like the spelling, since they wanted their kids to have names beginning with “C” for my mom and “A” for my dad. So, they came up with ways to make the chosen names fit the categories. As for Caryl, I think they liked the “y” in my name and continued it with her. The funny thing about that is just how easy it is for Caryl and me to type our own name when we mean to type the other name…thereby misspelling our own sister’s name. Do you have a unique name? what is your story? This is your day, and your chance to tell the world.

I’m not a huge fan of winter, but recently I saw something the mentioned how quiet it seems when it’s snowing, and I started thinking about the fact, that it really does seem quieter when it snows. I thought it must be some sort of illusion, or more likely, the lack of the Wyoming wind blowing, that made my world seem more quiet. Still, my curious mind had to find out exactly what the answer was. I’m not super into scientific experiments, but this seemed like a good one to check into. Maybe it was just me thinking about that, but maybe it wasn’t. Maybe other people wondered about it too.

As it turns out, it wasn’t just me…and the world really is quieter when it snows. That isn’t something you really see when watching a blizzard on television, and maybe there are some exceptions to the rule, but the reality is that snow absorbs sound waves. When it’s snowing, there’s plenty of space between snowflakes, meaning that there is also less space for sound waves to bounce around…so I’m not imagining it. The world actually gets more quiet when it snows. Bernadette Woods Placky, a meteorologist and director of Climate Central’s Climate Matters program says, “When snow falls, it does absorb some of the sound waves.”

To further add to the quiet, as snowflakes stack up, there is more space left between them, compared to the surface of liquids like water. “With all that space, sound is unable to bounce off snow as easily as it would off water,” Woods Placky says. As a result, the sound gets absorbed, and somewhat like the way a soundproof room absorbs the sound, so you can’t hear what is going on inside, the snow pulls the sound into itself, and we don’t hear it very well. Of course, things like less people outside and on the road also account for the quiet. Traffic stalls tremendously during and after a snowstorm, due to icy roads and the dangers it presents to drivers. Many animals, especially birds, also aren’t out as much. They have to adapt to snowy weather that makes their environment colder and their food more difficult to find. They hunker down to conserve energy.

Whatever the reason for the quiet we hear during a snowstorm, I have always felt like it was a beautiful thing. I don’t like the cold, and I don’t like the icy roads, but just watching the snow, fall quietly to the ground, and listening to the quiet that it produces makes it would of those wonderful experiences that you have to slow down and take the time to notice, or you will never have the full peace that happens when the world gets quiet.

As we all know, Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks to God for the many blessing we have had throughout the year. Most of the time, we tend to be thankful for the same things…family, friends, jobs, a home…just to name a few. Like most people, I am thankful for those things too, but this year Thanksgiving has taken on a different meaning for me. Along with the normal things to be thankful for, I am so thankful that I am not a widow. That could have easily been the case, but God gave me and my family a miracle just a little over a month ago. That miracle was that while my husband, Bob Schulenberg could have died of a “Widowmaker” heart attack, he did not…nor is he incapacitated in any way.

Bob’s miracle took the form of a number of Heaven sent people, who were in the exactly right place and the exactly right time to see Bob fall, come to his aid, perform CPR, and to add their prayers to mine, in our moment of urgency. Some of these people are really never at Walmart, where Bob fell in the parking lot, and yet God had orchestrated their unusual visit to happen at exactly the time it was need to save a life…my husband’s life. I have always known that God is on my side, but never was that fact made more clear to me than that Sunday afternoon. I had no idea what that shopping trip was going to end like. I had no idea that my faith, and the faith of so many other people was going to be called to action that day. There were no real warning signs…or at least not that we took as warning signs. Bob was a healthy man, with none of the normal risk factors for heart disease. we had just come from a walk at the mall and he had bowled 6 games in a tournament the day before…and took first place in singles. Nevertheless, right after we got our groceries, a clot lodged in his Left Anterior Descending Artery…the Widowmaker kind of incident, and down he went.

While I should have been in a state of panic, oddly I was not. Yes, I felt worry over him, but everything happened so fast that there was no time to panic. There was work to be done,and Ginger Sims, a progressive care nurse at Wyoming Medical Center, stepped in just about a minute after the heart attack started, and took control of the situation. Her “take charge” mannerisms, took the fear out of the situation, and put the action into it. With the help of her friend, WMC surgical nurse, Valya Boycheva, and WMC transport worker, Laura Lance, CPR was administered immediately, and the blood flow in bob’s body was maintained throughout the entire event. Because God spoke to these people and put them at Walmart that day, Bob had an excellent outcome to what could have been a life ending event.

After something like that, how can I possibly ever look at Thanksgiving in the same casual way I had before? The answer is that I can’t. God gave me a gift that is so amazing that I still have trouble wrapping my head around the events of that day, and just how blessed I am to still have my husband. There really is no way to totally make sense of it all, because it is bigger than the human mind can grasp. God is so good, and when he performs a miracle, it’s spectacular!! God doesn’t do things in a small way. He goes all out, and that is what he did for Bob. I can never thank God enough!! It’s been a whirlwind of activity, but much to be thankful for. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

For a number of years I have wondered why my sisters all had a sweetheart chin and jawline, while mine was pretty square. It wasn’t something my sisters particularly noticed, and maybe my parents didn’t either, but I did. It just seemed so…square. I always thought it made my face look fat…especially if I was seated in the front in pictures. In reality, I suppose it isn’t so different from my sisters, and most people would never notice it unless I pointed it out, but we are usually our own worst critic, so I definitely notice that jawline.

I was talking to my sister, Cheryl Masterson about it the other day, and we began to wonder just where it came from. I decided to take a look at the pictures I have of ancestors on my Ancestry tree. It took a few minutes, but I came across a grandmother, Mary Ann Jeffries, who married James Fishburn. Grandma Fishburn seems to have the same jaw line that I do. I don’t think I really look like her in most ways, but that jawline is pretty distinct. My sister had to agree too. We know very little about Grandma Fishburn, because she passed away back in 1913, long before I was born.

Mary Ann and her first husband, Andrew Lake were apparently divorced, because he died after her, but she went on to marry my 2nd great grandfather, James Fishburn in 1863. She and her first husband had a son, Christopher Daniel Lake in 1859, and with her second husband, she had Hanna in 1867, Almira in 1869, and Edna in 1871 (my great grandmother). James, my 2nd great grandfather, died in 1897. In about 1900, Mary Ann married John Parker, who died in 1914, about a year after she did. I don’t really know anything more but the woman with whom I share a jawline, but it seems to me that he was not a quitter. She didn’t let life’s disappointments destroy her life, but rather picked herself up by the bootstraps and moved forward. Maybe it was because she had children to care for or live for, or maybe she just understood that life isn’t always a bed of roses, and we must each play the hand we are dealt. With perseverance, and faith in God, we go forward, and live on. As for me, I finally know where that jawline came from.

During our visit to Superior, Wisconsin, my sister, Cheryl Masterson; her daughter, Liz Masterson; and I were treated a couple of wonderful tours of the area. Our cousin, Pam Wendling and her husband Mike took us down to Canal Park, where we watched the Paul R Tragurtha coming into port to pick up a load of coal…that come to Duluth by train from none other than Gillette, Wyoming, by the way. The Paul R Tragurtha is known as the “Queen of the Lakes” and is the longest vessel on the Great Lakes at 1,013 feet 6 inches. Watching that great ship come into port is amazing. It was also great to have Pam and Mike there to give us the lake and ship history. Though we had been to Canal Park before, it just never gets old.

Pam and Mike also took us up the North Shore of Lake Superior to Two Harbors, Minnesota, and showed us all the sights in that area. The lighthouse there is really pretty, and we were able to get lots of pictures. There was a ship in the harbor that was loading Taconite, which is a low-grade iron ore. For a long time, when the high-grade natural iron ore was plentiful, Taconite was considered a waste rock and not used. Then, as the supply of high-grade natural ore decreased, industry began to view Taconite as a resource. Had it not been for Mike’s knowledge of all these mining, railroad, and shipping industries in the area, and in the United States, we would have seen these things, but really wouldn’t have know anything about the rich history that went along with it. It takes someone, like Mike, with a love of history to give us that.

Pam and Mike also do some hiking in the area, and we were shown some of the beautiful hiking trails, and the beautiful wooded areas around the lake. The streams and waterfalls especially appealed to us. That area has so many more trees that we have in Wyoming, and all that greenery made me long to get out and wander down the trail, but we just didn’t have the time, unfortunately. Pam suggested that Bob and I consider a hiking trip to the area, we may have to try to do that. The tours were beautiful, and the time we spent with them was very special to us. I am so glad that we have reconnected with all of our cousins in the Superior/Duluth area, and all over the nation. Amazing family connections.

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