Reminiscing

1 2 3 188

For most of her life, my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg struggled with her weight. Even as a child, Brenda was heavy. She will tell you that her weight prevented her from doing many of the things that most children took for granted, such as riding a bicycle. She might have been able to do it to a degree, but not for very long or very far. As she grew into adulthood, her weight became such a problem that she couldn’t even think of riding a bicycle. Then one day, her health failed due to her weight. She knew that she had to make a change. That day was October 18, 2013…just 5½ months after her dad, Walt Schulenberg passed away. Brenda became a health nut. She learned to eat right, and she walked…slowly and with a walker at first, and later on her own. She walked further and further…often reaching 10 miles a day. The weight came off, and she felt much better. Still, one thing eluded her…riding a bicycle. Finally, the day arrived when Brenda found out that she could ride a bicycle…as long as the peddles were off, and she could reach the ground. It’s called strider riding. It is a bicycle, but the rider basically runs the bicycle down the trail, instead of riding it…and Brenda could do that.

After riding strider style for a time, Brenda was finally able to ride a bicycle in the normal way. She put the peddles back on her purple bicycle and off she went. Brenda became just like the postal service…”Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Ok, Brenda didn’t have appointed rounds…exactly, but she had set herself a goal of riding her bicycle every month of the year. Now, that is not an easy task, especially in the state of Wyoming, where winters can be brutal. Nevertheless, just like the postal worker, neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor gloom of the very early morning will keep Brenda from riding her bicycle. She is determined to ride it, and make up for all the years that she couldn’t even ride a bicycle in the summertime, much less in the winter.

She’s a brave woman, especially when she goes out in the middle of a snow story, and pretty much turns into a snow woman. She reminds me of the Campbell’s Soup commercial where the little boy is so covered with snow that only a hot bowl of soup will melt away all the snow. Maybe she’s not that bad, but she’s close. Brenda, we are proud of your determination, but I do have to wonder if the people driving by the snow woman on wheels have to rubs their eyes to make sure they are seeing what their eyes are telling them they are seeing. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Xander Spethman is growing up so fast. It seems like yesterday that he was a little boy, and now I see a tall young man of 14 years. He has grown so tall and strong that I find myself having to do a double take to make sure it is Xander that I’m looking at…in fact, I recently saw him on the trail my husband and I walk on, and almost didn’t recognize him at all…and talking to him doesn’t help either, because his voice is suddenly pretty deep. I’m sure his years of doing sports have contributed to his new physique, and the fact that his dad, Steve Spethman is a man with big shoulders had a lot to do with it too, I’m sure. It could be Xander’s size that makes his a great protector of those who are being bullied, but I don’t really think it is. I think that being a protector is just part of Xander’s nature. He is kind and compassionate, and he doesn’t like to see anyone getting their feelings hurt, or being hurt physically…other than maybe the payers on the opposing team in football, and even then, he would not really want to hurt them…just take them down.

Xander is a great marksman in his own right, having been trained by his dad and mom to shoot guns at a young age. He has a good respect for human life, and gun safety. He knows what can happen if a person gets careless, and is determined not to be a person who is careless. He is very proud this year, in that he earned the money for and bought his own hunting rifle. Not bad for a 13 year old kid. He likes the feeling of accomplishment her gets from doing things on his own, but that doesn’t mean that his parents don’t mean the world to him…rather, just that they have trained him well to be independent…an part of good parenting. nevertheless, his mom, Jenny Spethman will always consider him her baby boy…as any mother would do.

As with many teenagers, Xander is spending this year wearing braces. I’m not sure how he feels about that, but I don’t know many teenagers that like it much. Still, when the time for braces is over, most of them are very happy with their new smile. Xander is a pretty easy going guy, and doesn’t let too many things bother him very much, so I suspect that he is ok with it, and given his size, who would dare to pick on him about it anyway. Today is Xander’s 14th birthday. Xander, we are all very proud of the young man you have become. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As airplanes became an accepted form of transportation, people began to consider traveling further and further. Of course, those first airplanes could never have made the flight across the ocean, but these days planes fly that far with ease. Still, someone had to be brave enough to take that first flight across the ocean. Someone had to trust their plane enough to make the attempt. British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Brown decided to be the first to make that leap when they made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919. Their plane was a modified First World War Vickers Vimy bomber. They flew from Saint John’s, Newfoundland to Clifden, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. Like most accomplishments, the competition was fierce, and there had to be a reward for the winner. The Secretary of State for Air, Winston Churchill, presented them with the Daily Mail prize for the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by airplane in “less than 72 consecutive hours”. A small amount of mail was carried on the flight, making it the first transatlantic airmail flight. The two aviators were awarded the honour of Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire a week later by King George V at Windsor Castle.

As with any record, there is always room for improvement. The first flight took place with two people on board, so on Ma 21, 1927, at age 25, Charles Lindbergh went from being an unknown United States Air Mail pilot, to world fame instantly, by making his Orteig Prize winning nonstop flight from Long Island, New York to Paris. He covered the 33½ hour, 3,600 miles alone in a single-engine Ryan monoplane called the Spirit of Saint Louis. The plane was build for this flight. This was the first solo transatlantic flight, and the first non-stop flight between North America and mainland Europe. I wonder what he was thinking as he flew for 33½ hours alone over the ocean. He had to keep himself awake, and on course. There was no one else to do it. Most of us have a hard time staying awake for more than 17 or 18 hours, much less 33½ hours. It was an amazing feat, and one for which the fame he gained was well deserved.

As with any record, someone had to beat it or improve on it or change it in some way. The record held until May 21, 1932, when Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make a solo air crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, from Newfoundland to Ireland. As with Charles Lindbergh, I wondered how Amelia stayed awake for all those hours, and what she was thinking as she flew along…alone for all those hours. I’m sure there was excitement in the extreme, but I’m sure she was weary after the flight was over too.

When my nephew, Rob Masterson was a boy growing up in a house full of girls, he took it upon himself to pick on his mom, Cheryl Masterson, and his sisters, Chantel Balcerzak, Toni Chase, Elisabeth Masterson, and Jenny Spethman. For Rob, this was his chosen career. In fact, I would have to say that he has a Masters Degree in the field of Sister Teasing Torture…and he keeps up on his practice to this day, whether it is sisters, mom, daughters, Christina, Raelynn, and Anna, his nieces, and yes even his son, Matthew and his nephews. Even his aunts are not exempt. It’s all in good fun, of course, and the girls have to admit that they would wonder if he was mad at them, if he didn’t tease them, so we all just know that it is a fact of life.

While teasing has been a life-long career tor Rob, there is something else that he does, that is probably more on the unusual side. Rob’s wife, Dustie tells me that Rob has the unusual habit of being a person who would rather give than receive. Now we have all heard the saying, “It’s better to give than receive,” but few people can be said to live by that motto. Rob really does. Dustie tells me of a situation that unfolded after she began running the Fresh Cut Department at Albertson’s on the west side of Casper. Most of us know that with use a knife gets dull, but Dustie was really unprepared for just how often her knife would become dull. Most of us don’t use our knives in quite the way Dustie does. Needless to say, her knife seemed to be forever dull. Rob had been given an old stone knife sharpener by his dad, and suddenly, there seemed to be a real need for it. For the first six months that Dustie ran the Fresh Cut Department, Rob would spend half an hour to and hour, every other day, painstakingly sharpening Dustie’s knife. Then around Christmas time he decided to take the Christmas money he had received from his mom, Cheryl Masterson, to buy a diamond sharpening stone…as Dustie said, “For me! It was his Christmas present and instead of picking a gift for himself he bought a nice stone to sharpen my knives with. He is just that way. One of the most selfless and giving people I know. He even sharpens the knives of my co-workers, because he knows they can help me more effectively if they have a good sharp knife. I have never met someone who truly enjoys giving more than receiving. If you ask him to do something, and it’s within his power, he will go out of his way to do it.” Now, I could have tried to re-phrase that tribute to Rob from his loving wife, but I could never have said it as sweetly as she did.

Rob may tease his mom and sisters, but I know and have witnessed the fact that he will also bend over backward to help them with whatever the need help with, and I’m sure any one of them will tell you that his selfless acts of kindness, far outweigh any sister teasing torture them might have to endure. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Caryl Reed is younger than me by three years. She was always the ticklish one in the family…or at least the one who was the most fun to torture. That made her the “victim” of numerous attacks by all of the rest of her four sisters. We were probably brutal in some ways, because lets face it…not breathing is probably not good for a person. Nevertheless, we tickled for as long as we dared…stopping just short of the point of Caryl passing out. I think the Tickle Torture was a dreaded source of pleasure, for lack of a better term. Tickling doesn’t hurt, and some people even like light tickling, but the torture part was definitely a source of dread…for Caryl anyway. Caryl survived those torture years, got married, and moved away…go figure. It wasn’t her idea exactly, but I’m sure se didn’t miss the Tickle Torture while she was gone, and now that she lives closer, we don’t seem to attack her anymore. Still. she is always the potential “victim” in my mind.

Caryl has learned how to monitor breathing, as a respiratory therapist, so maybe we could tickle her even longer now…hmmm!! Still, she doesn’t live close enough for any kind of daily attacks. Caryl works at the Memorial Hospital of Carbon County in Rawlins, Wyoming, and is a respected, essential employee there. In fact, there are things they would have a hard time handling if she were not there. Caryl is dedicated to her job and her patients, and we are all very proud of her accomplishments.

Caryl and her husband, Mike Reed are working on their retirement home, that will ultimately bring them back to Casper to stay. They have purchased a piece of land out on the Old Poison Spider Road…which takes me back to my own childhood years, when a friend of mine lived out there. They are building a beautiful home there with a huge garage, and beautiful living area. Caryl has always wanted to have horses, and they currently board horses there. It’s a win-win situation for her. Eventually they will live there permanently, and then hopefully they can have horses of their own. Either way, their place is a great place to live, and while it’s further outside of town than I want to be these days, they love it. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Watch out for tickle attacks, because I might mention this to Mike or Andrea. Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Mike Stevens loves all things sports. He really needs a dedicated sports television. I would like to say that the man cave he now has is that dedicated sports television, but my sister, Alena tells me that he “takes control of whatever television he is at.” Mike’s favorite teams are the Colorado Rockies and the Denver Broncos…smart man. Those are my favorite teams too. Mike also loves to watch NASCAR, golf, basketball, bowling, well…the list could go on forever. If it’s sports, he will watch it…or play it.

Mike loves to golf, and has golfed in Buffalo, Wyoming; Cheyenne, Wyoming; North Platte, Nebraska, and he has played in some of the nicest courses around the country when he has been on business trips. Mike’s business trips have afforded him a few other opportunities as well. He got to sit in a suite while watching the Dallas Stars play hockey, and was served catered “snacks”…which were amazing, from what I hear…and of course, the whole thing was free of charge, because they like to treat these guys well on the business trips. He has also gone to Avalanche hockey games.

While watching the games is great, Mike is a sportsman in his own right. He has bowled for years, and gone to many bowling tournaments over the years. They have also traveled for other sporting events, going to Las Vegas and Bristol, Tennessee for NASCAR, and of course, Denver for baseball and football. He played softball, in the position of short stop for many teams, but mostly for the Salt Creek Mudders. He played basketball on a City League for years. Mike’s love of all things sports has spilled over to his family, or maybe they just learned to love sports because there was nothing else on television. I doubt that was the case, because he isn’t a meanie, after all, they just got caught up in his enthusiasm, and learned about the sports too. Every year, the Stevens family has a horseshoe tournament during their annual family reunion at Boysen Reservoir. Mike is so good at horseshoes, that he is usually the champion of the tournament. He is so good that he used to get into tournaments in Midwest, Wyoming where he earned money for his ability.

Probably the biggest news for Mike this year, however, has been his new pickup. Mike has never has a new vehicle, and he has wanted a new pickup for years. This past year, that dream became a reality, when he got to buy a 2016 Ford F250 pickup. He is so excited about it, and his family couldn’t be happier for him. Getting a brand new vehicle is a very big deal. His daughter, Michelle tells me that the picture of his pickup has be his phone’s screen saver since his got the pickup. It wasn’t a birthday present, but it was exciting anyway, and his family thinks it was a vehicle that was well deserved. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Katy Collett and her husband, Jake love the outdoors. They knew that they would want to live in the country, so recently the bought a place out in the country where they would have room to spread their wings, and their dogs would have room to roam free. I think in many ways Katy and Jake feel the same way. They love to roam free, and they enjoy not having their neighbors living too close.

Katy’s interests vary, and include hiking, children, and of course, her beloved dogs, especially Bubba, who is her Gentle Giant, and basically dwarfs her. I have seen pets that love their masters, and even pets that hug their masters, but seeing Katy with Bubba…well, it either accentuates just how little she is or just how big he is. Either way, I have to think it’s a good thing that he loves her so much, because he could probably eat her up if he wanted to. When you see them together, Katy looks like a child…maybe ten years old. That’s how big her Gentle Giant…Bubba is.

Katy and Jake both have a great sense of humor. They love jokes and funny videos…especially when there are dogs involved. Their Facebook pages are peppered with funny videos and jokes. I think they like to bounce things off of each other, to make their days brighter. That is really what a good team does. And I think it is a big part of what makes a good marriage. When a couple laughs together, they are far more likely to stay together. Katy and Jake are so good together. It makes me happy to see them having such a great time.

Life if moving forward for Katy and Jake. I don’t know what their future plans are yet, because I don’t know if they know for sure, but they have lots of time to figure it out. Whatever they decide to do, I know that they will be highly successful. They are both great people, and that is half the battle in life. Today is Katy’s birthday. Happy birthday Katy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Kayla Stevens has been spending her time studying for her degree in social work. I haven’t had much experience in that field, but I can tell you that Kayla has a heart for it. Her dream job would be in the school system, and after listening to her talk about a program that is dear to her, you can have no doubt that she will be an excellent social worker for children. When someone has a real heart for something, it simply bubbles out of them as they talk about it. Their excitement about it can not be contained. That is what I saw in Kayla the other day at my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s house.

Kayla and her husband, my nephew, Garrett live next door to Cheryl, and all of Cheryl’s little grandchildren love to go visit Kayla and Garrett. They would be over there all afternoon if they could. I knew that Garrett loved kids…he has all his life, but you don’t know if his wife would tolerate them because they are his cousins, or if she genuinely loves them too. After listening to Kayla, I can say that there is no doubt that she loved kids too. I knew they wanted kids, so of course, she loves kids, but it is often different when they aren’t your kids. Many people have no real patience for other people’s kids. That is not the case with Kayla, however. She genuinely loves kids, and she genuinely wants to help them. For that reason, and from listening to her, I know that any school district would be extremely blessed to have Kayla working with their kids…she’s awesome!!

This past weekend marked the completion of Kayla’s college education, as she received her Masters Degree in Social Work…graduating with honors, a wonderful thing to show for all her hard work and perseverance. We are all so excited for her and she begins her new journey. I know that success will follow her wherever she goes, and that any employer would be very blessed to have her on their team. She is kind and caring, and very good at what she does. We are so proud of all you have accomplished. You are going to have a great future in social work, and your clients couldn’t be more blessed. Your heart for kids and for those who need help is amazing. Congratulations Kayla!! We love you!!

Every year since 1907 (or 1914, if you go by the day that Congress designated the day) children have celebrated a day of remembering all the wonderful things their mom has done for them. Being a mom is often a thankless job. It involves long hours, filled with worries, headaches, weariness, and work…and it’s an all volunteer job. Of course, if we had to pay our mother for all the things she did for us, we would all be broke, and the moms would have all the money in the world…or a good chunk of it. The job of Mom, is a highly skilled job, encompassing many different careers. Moms are nurses, teachers, chefs, nannies, coaches, maids, chauffeurs, financial advisors, tutors, counselors, advisor, judge, and jury, just to name a few. Most of her training is on the job training, because motherhood is a career that starts the instant your first child arrives, and lasts for the rest of your life. There are no days off, no passing the torch, and no retirement. And the funny thing is that no mother ever wants to retire, in fact, they wish their babies would stay little forever.

My own mom, Collene Spencer was a most amazing woman. She raised five daughters, teaching us to cook, clean, take care of a home, and how to be moms. She taught us that we could do anything we set our minds to. As our lives progressed and we took on our adulthood, she became our cheerleader…even if what we were doing was a hobby, she always had faith that we could do it. I remember when I started writing, she wanted to have me read the stories to her. She missed so many of them, because I didn’t see her that day, so I finally made sure she got them on her Kindle. She read every single one. She was my biggest fan, and I miss having her tell me how much she loved this story or that one. And I miss calling Mom to ask her about a detail from her childhood. Her information enriched my stories, because she knew all the little details of the events. Many times, while I’m working on a story, I think, “I need to ask Mom about that”…then, I realized once again…that I can’t. It would be nice to have a phone to Heaven, because I have questions for my mom…and my dad too. And I miss them, and just saying hello again would be wonderful.

When I got married, I assumed that I had learned everything I needed to know, but that was not so. My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg had been raised on a farm, and had a very different take on life and caring for a family. So, once again, I had things to learn. Having a vegetable garden meant that rather than buying vegetables at the store, you got them out of the cupboard, and that was because you had picked them from the garden, and canned them. It wasn’t that my mom didn’t know how to do that, but we didn’t have a garden, so we didn’t can. My mother-in-law sewed, knitted, and crocheted, and while I knew how to crochet, I hadn’t been exactly willing to learn much about sewing from my mom. I learned how to do these things, but unlike my mother-in-law, they would not become a big part of my life. Some things just simply are, what they are. Nevertheless, I am thankful for the things I learned from my mother-in-law, who also taught me that you never really know it all. My mom is in Heaven now, but we still have my mother-in-law for a while longer. Happy Mother’s Day to my Moms!! I love you both very much.

My niece, Andrea Beach loves to cook. She works at the Turnbuckle restaurant, located in the Best Western Hotel in Rawlins, Wyoming. There are just two chefs that cook there, the Head Chef and Andrea, so she is basically running her own show a lot. My sister, Caryl Reed, says the Turnbuckle is the best restaurant in Rawlins, so working there is an honor for Andrea. She loves to be creative with her cooking, and would love to go to Culinary School someday, but for now, she is happy being able to cook in a great restaurant, and share her creativity with the guest there.

While a person’s career is important, it is still…a job. A person’s life is their family. Andrea has a great son named, Topher, and he keeps her busy with his activities. This month Topher is playing soccer, so you guessed it…Andrea is a Soccer Mom. Over the past few years, that term has become almost a household word, since it was used during the McCain/Palin campaign for the presidency. Most of us hadn’t really heard much about that term, unless of course, they were soccer moms. Being a Soccer Mom means more than just showing up at the games for Andrea. Soccer Moms usually have to bring the treats after the game (I guess they still do that), but since Andrea is a single mom, she is Topher’s full time cheerleader and his home coach, as he practices his skills. Topher is Andrea’s whole world, and she really wouldn’t know what to do without him. She is a good mom, and she has raised a great kid. Topher is very blessed to have Andrea for a mom.

Andrea rents one of the apartments owned by my sister, Caryl Reed and her husband, Mike, who are Andrea’s mom and step-dad. It works out really well, because Caryl and Mike are living in one of their apartments too, while they build their retirement home here in Casper, Wyoming. For Andrea, this is ideal, because that means Topher’s grandma and grandpa are in the same building. When she has to work nights, Topher can just go to his grandparent’s apartment. And when she gets off work, it’s not far to go to pick him up and go home. Andrea also helps Caryl and Mike out, by acting a part-time apartment manager for them, when they are out of town. It’s a win-win situation for all. For Andrea, life stays pretty busy, but I think she likes it that way. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

1 2 3 188