Reminiscing

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These days, at least in Wyoming, the news is often full of new eruption stories pertaining to Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone National Park. Steamboat Geyser was dormant from 1911 to 1961. Eleven eruptions were noted between June 4, 1990 and September 23, 2014. Then beginning on March 15, 2018, we have seen a sudden increase in eruptions. Beginning on March 15th, there have been ten eruptions to date…just over three months. That is unheard of for this geyser in recorded history. In reality, it can do what Kilauea has done on Hawaii’s Big Island, only much bigger, because the geyser field in Yellowstone National Park lies on top of an active volcano, with multiple chambers of magma from deep beneath the earth. The same energy that causes geysers to blow could spew an ash cloud as far as Chicago and Los Angeles.

It’s strange to think about the fact that Yellowstone National Park lies on such a huge volcano, and yet three extremely large explosive eruptions have occurred at Yellowstone in the past 2.1 million years with a recurrence interval of about 600,000 to 800,000 years. More frequent eruptions of basalt and rhyolite lava flows have occurred before and after the large caldera-forming events. It is said that if the Yellowstone volcano erupted again, it it would be catastrophic, but with the chances of a supervolcanic paroxysm being currently around one-in-730,000, it is less likely than a catastrophic asteroid impact. I guess Wyomingites can breathe a little easier. Nevertheless, scientists do want to know what’s behind the most recent activity at Steamboat Geyser. “We see gas emissions. We see all kinds of thermal activity. That’s what Yellowstone does. That’s what it’s supposed to do. It’s one of the most dynamic places on earth,” said Mike Poland, the scientist in charge of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory.

Steamboat Geyser is the least predictable geyser in all of Yellowstone National Park. It could erupt in five minutes, five years, or even 50 years from now. Yet no one visiting Yellowstone wants to turn away from the sight. “That would be the chance of a lifetime,” one visitor said. “I would be amazed.” Steamboat Geyser,is the world’s tallest and far more powerful than Old Faithful, and right now, it’s roaring back to life. Still, timing is everything, and only a few people get to see it. Poland’s team of volcanologists are using thermal-imaging equipment to track the temperature of the 50-mile-wide magma field. They also monitor 28 seismographs since a super volcano would include major earthquake activity. So far,there is no indication that this is anything other than an unusual series of eruptions, and not indication of increased volcanic activity, which puts many people’s minds at ease. The geyser is welcome to continue erupting, but I say, “Just leave that volcano alone.”

When we think of deployment, we think of the military and of war, but there are other ways to be deployed too, and some of them do not even include the military. Every year, thousands of firefighters are separated from their family members, some of them for months at a time. For the most part, these are wildland firefighters, but sometimes they even have to enlist the help of teams from cities around the country. Wildland fires are not bound by the schedules of humans. Once they get going, they take on a life of their own. Firefighters are in it for the long haul, and many wildland firefighters go from fire to fire, spending the entire fire season far away from their families.

The other night my husband, Bob and I were watching a television program called FireStorm. The show focused on not just what happens during a wildfire, but also on the people who are affected by the fire, that most of us never think about…the firefighters. These are the people who leave their families at home and head out to fight a fire at a moments notice. Some of these people are gone for as much as nine months out of the year, going from fire to fire. These people include the smoke jumpers, the tanker plane personnel, the hotshot units, and sometimes teams from cities in the area, as well as the Bureau of Land Management, and the Forest Service firefighting teams. These people talked about missing everything from school functions to weddings and childbirth. The fires wait for no man, and people depend on these men and women to drop everything and come quickly to try to save their homes.

Smoke jumpers are especially isolated. They jump into a fire area and they are pretty much on their own for up to 3 weeks. The have to pack supplies, tents, and water with them. Part of it is dropped with the smoke jumpers and part of it with it’s own parachute. These firefighters are on their own now…in the middle of the monster. Obviously, they have ways out, but often it is by helicopter. They have to be alert at all times, and there is no time for fun and games. Smoke jumpers are essentially seal teams, when compared to the military. They go out on missions that no one else wants to attempt, and most often, they come back alive too. That is not always the case of course, because some of these teams have been overtaken and killed like the Prineville, Oregon hotshot team killed on Storm King Mountain in Colorado, when the fire exploded and ran up the hill overtaking them. They paid the ultimate sacrifice for other people in an effort to save lives and homes.

Firefighters who go out for months at a time fighting wildfires all over the country, are truly just as much deployed as their military counterparts, but we seldom think about the family side of their time fighting the fires. The spouses and children, and even parents and siblings, waiting and praying that their firefighter will make it home. It is a different kind of deployment, but it is a deployment nevertheless.

A sudden downpour near Terry, Montana on the evening of June 19, 1938 caused a flash flooding of the Custer Creek that would lead to a disaster before the night was over. Earlier in the day, a track walker was sent out the check the rail lines near Custer Creek which was located near the town of Terry, Montana. After his inspection, he reported to his superiors that the conditions were dry, and there were no problems with the tracks.

That was true at the time, but within a few hours, a sudden downpour overwhelmed Custer Creek. A small winding river, Custer Creek runs through 25 miles of the Great Plains before depositing into the Yellowstone River. Small streams like Custer Creek are prone to flash floods, because they don’t have the capacity to handle any big influx of water, and their banks can quickly and easily be overtaken during heavy rains. As the water came rushing down stream, it washed out a bridge used by the trains. When the Olympian Special came through, it went crashing into the raging waters with no warning. Two sleeper cars were buried in the muddy waters. The night was pitch black seriously hampering rescue efforts. In all, 46 people lost their lives, and 60 others were seriously injured. The rear cars stayed above the water, but scores of passengers were seriously injured. They could not be evacuated until the following morning. I can’t even begin to imagine how awful that was.

That was a tough week for Montana. Just a few days later, Black Eagle saw “torrents of water” that floated furniture in the house of Sam Tadich, the sheriff had to help a rescue effort, the road to Giant Springs washed away and water was up to cows’ flanks around the Sun River. Havre’s worst flood came in June 22, 1938, when a cloudburst in the Bear Paw Mountains sent out a wall of water. Ten people were killed. Floating train cars were wedged under the viaduct, 10 miles of highway were underwater between Laredo and Box Elder, with a bridge washed out, the Havre Daily News reported. Rain is a good thing, but too much rain, coming too fast can devastate an area, especially one with a creek or river, in a very short time, and for Montana, it was a very rainy week, making it a very tough week.

During the Cold War, the threat of a nuclear attack was the biggest concern in world relationships. During the late 1960s, the United States learned that the Soviet Union had embarked upon a massive Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) buildup designed to catch up with the United States. The situation seemed to be heating up, because the Soviet Union seemed far more likely to use such weapons, so it looked like it was time to take action. In January 1967, President Lyndon Johnson announced that the Soviet Union had begun to construct a limited Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) defense system around Moscow. The development of an ABM system could allow one side to launch a first strike and then prevent the other from retaliating by shooting down incoming missiles. That was completely unacceptable.

President Johnson decided to call for strategic arms limitations talks…nicknamed SALT, and in 1967, he and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin met at Glassboro State College in New Jersey. Johnson said they must gain “control of the ABM race,” and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara argued that the more each reacted to the other’s escalation, the more they had chosen “an insane road to follow.” Completely abolishing nuclear weapons would be impossible, but limiting the development of both offensive and defensive strategic systems could be done, and it might help stabilize relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. The resulting SALT-I treaty was signed in 1972. The 1972 treaty limited a wide variety of nuclear weapons, but it did not address many of the other issues, so shortly after the SALT-I treaty was ratified, talks between the United States and the Soviet Union began anew. Those talks failed to achieve any new breakthroughs. By 1979, both the United States and the Soviet Union were eager to try again. For the United States, the thought that the Soviets were leaping ahead in the arms race was the primary motivator. For the Soviet Union, the increasingly close relationship between America and communist China was a cause for growing concern.

The SALT-II agreement was the result of those many nagging issues that were left over from the successful SALT-I treaty of 1972, but it had problems of its own. The treaty basically established numerical equality between the two nations in terms of nuclear weapons delivery systems. It also limited the number of MIRV missiles (missiles with multiple, independent nuclear warheads). In truth, the treaty did little or nothing to stop, or even substantially slow down, the arms race, and it met with unrelenting criticism in the United States. The treaty was thought to be a “sellout” to the Soviets. People believed that it would leave America virtually defenseless against a whole range of new weapons not mentioned in the agreement. Even supporters of arms control were less than enthusiastic about the treaty, since it did little to actually control arms. Nevertheless, during a summit meeting in Vienna, President Jimmy Carter and Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev signed the SALT-II agreement dealing with limitations and guidelines for nuclear weapons, on June 18, 1979. The treaty, would never formally go into effect, and it proved to be one of the most controversial agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union of the entire Cold War. Debate over SALT-II in the U.S. Congress continued for months. Then in December 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. The Soviet attack effectively killed any chance of SALT-II being passed, and Carter ensured this by withdrawing the treaty from the Senate in January 1980. SALT-II thus remained signed, but was never ratified. During the 1980s, both nations agreed to respect the agreement until such time as new arms negotiations could take place.

Yesterday, in between bouts of sprinkling rain, my grand-niece, Siara Harman became Siara Olsen, when she said “I do” to the love of her life, Nick Olsen. The wedding was held at City Park in Casper, Wyoming, under mostly cloudy skies, with sprinkling rain before it and heavier rain after. Nevertheless, the actual wedding took place under sunny skies, and the ceremony was the beautiful Cinderella wedding that Siara had always wanted. Siara wore a stunning light pink fitted dress, with a lovely full skirt from the knees down, that swept into a train that glided along behind her. She was given in marriage by her step-dad, Dave Balcerzak, who she considers her dad. It was a precious moment for them. Her bride’s maids wore beautiful gold sequined dresses, and the groomsmen wore white tuxedos with pale gold vest and tie. The effect was classic Cinderella, and Siara was a beautiful princess. The wedding was put together by Siara’s mom, Chantel Balcerzak, who runs a wedding planner business. Chantel did an amazing job with the wedding, and everything went off without a hitch, It couldn’t have been more beautiful.

When Siara met Nick, she knew almost immediately that he was the one. They dated for a while, but they both knew that this was a forever kind of love. They both knew that they would be married…and yesterday was that special day. Yesterday, their friends and family gathered together to witness the beautiful exchange of vows for this beautiful couple. The gathering of their friends and family made this perfect day complete. We are all so happy for Siara and Nick. I know that the future is going to be very bright for them. They have a great relationship, and they are very much in love with each other. I’m sure there will be children in the future, and we will be very excited for that time, but that is another story for another time.

After a beautiful reception, complete with an amazing wedding cake, and a groom’s cake shaped like a taco, in honor of Siara and Nick’s love of Taco Bell, the couple danced the night away with their family friends, and of course with each other. I’m sure that like most couples, they didn’t want the night to end. The festivities continued until about 11:00pm, and them the couple went to their hotel room, where they had the honeymoon suite. So,today marks their first full day of their lives as husband and wife, and we couldn’t possibly be happier. Congratulations on your wedding and on your future together Siara and Nick!! We love you, and pray God’s greatest blessings over you both.

For people who don’t have a dad on Earth, Father’s Day always arrives with a hint of sadness. Most of us would love to have just one more day, just one more moment to spend with our dad again, but that can’t be, so we quietly wish him a happy Father’s Day in Heaven, knowing that he is ok…even more,that he is happy. It is us, his kids who feel the sadness. For me, both my dad, Allen Spencer and my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg are in Heaven now. I often find myself almost forgetting that Father’s Day is coming, maybe my mind is just trying to blur the ensuing sadness that always follows the realization that they are gone. My only consolation is the knowledge that I will be seeing them again when I get to Heaven. For now, to my dads, I say Happy Father’s Day in Heaven. I know it will be an amazing day!!

My husband, Bob Schulenberg comes to mind next. This is the man with whom I share my life. The man who gave me my family, two beautiful daughters, Corrie and Amy.I couldn’t be more blessed. Bob took our marriage vows very seriously. When he said them, he meant that he would stand by me through everything life would throw at us. He has been my best friend, my partner, the love of my life. He has also been there to take care of life’s little problems. He’s my mechanic, my handyman, the strong man whenever I need one. I am so thankful to have been able to travel life’s journey with him. We have so many things in common, that we can finish each other’s sentences, or just know instinctively what the other is thinking. We are soulmates, and I love him more with each passing day. Bob, I wish you a wonderful Father’s Day. I love you more than you could possible know.

My life has been blessed with two wonderful sons-in-law, Kevin Petersen and Travis Royce, who have, along with my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, have given me four amazing grandchildren, Chris Petersen, Shai Royce, Caalab Royce, and Josh Petersen. As my family has grown, and grown up, the blessings have just kept on growing. My sons-in-law, have truly become my sons, the sons I never had. They both have different personalities, and each one is perfect in their own way. I can’t imagine either of them being like the other, because that would be all wrong. They each have an amazing sense of humor, each in their own way. They both have different talents, and each is great at what they do. The one thing they have in common is that they are both great dads. They would do anything for their kids. They have raised them all to be amazing people, of whom I am very proud. To my sons-in-law, I say Happy Father’s Day…and thank you for being you!!

This Father’s Day is particularly different, because for the first time, I have a grandson, Chris Petersen, who is a dad now. His little daughter Cambree Miranda arrived a little over two weeks ago, just in time to celebrate Father’s Day. It is so precious to see. Being a dad has completely changed Chris. He has a new sense of contentment. He is complete. Oh I know that there will be more children for him, but that will never be able to change his status as Daddy. That change belongs to Cambree alone, because it was her entrance into the world that made him a Daddy. Chris, along with his fiance, Karen, has a family. He is a Daddy, and this is his first Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day Chris!! I hope your day is amazing.And to all the dads out there, Happy Father’s Day!! You are all loved!!

My grandnephew, James Renville is one of the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful young men that people could ever know. This is information that comes to me from the people who know him the best, and not just one of them, but rather all of them. James is a family man who dearly loves his family. For James, family comes first, and he always puts them first, even if he has to change his own plans. He is soft spoken, and thinks before he speaks, making sure that his words do not hurt others. James always thinks the best of people, even if others don’t necessarily see good in them. James looks in their heart.

As a little boy, James was very into the Ninja Turtles, and he went through a Mortal Kombat phase. For several Christmases, all he wanted for Christmas was the costumes for Mortal Kombat and Ninja Turtles. Thankfully, my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who is James’ grandmother, had the talent to make those costumes, and James was delighted in them and played with them constantly…over any other toys he had, in fact. James, Aunt Jenny Spethman was the only person to babysit him, other that his grandma, of course. James would always talk life with Jenny’s boys, and always on their level. He is always playing along with Jenny’s daughter, Aleesia such as pretending that her little vile of water is actually flower potion that he is going to pour on her brothers.

James has a great sense of humor, and loves to pull pranks on his dad, Jim Renville, and his step-dad, Dave Chase. With Dave, James might wake him from a dead sleep while he records the reaction or kicking the soccer ball into the water on the beach so that they have to go get it or saying something stupid while Dave is doing talk to text and then reaching over and hitting send before Dave has time to erase it. Hahaha!! Those guys really have to be on their toes when James is around. While James’ mom, my niece, Toni Chase doesn’t get to see the pranks he pulls on his dad, I’m quite certain that they are just as good. James is quite well known for his pranks, his sense of humor, and the fact that it’s all done in good clean fun, and never in a malicious way. You don’t expect the “victims” of a prank to enjoy the experience, but James’ “victims” actually do. The truth is that he likes to make others laugh (especially himself) at the expense of those he is pranking. He claims that he’s nothing like his dad but he really, he is a lot like his dad. Kids can rarely see that, at least until hey get older. He likes to make the ones he loves smile or do things to make them happy…Dave included. And of course, no pranking story would be complete without mentioning the fact that he is always trying to steal hugs from his Aunt Liz Masterson, because she pretends she doesn’t want them.

James is a self-disciplined man. He eats right and watches his spending. He loves to travel, especially in Europe, and he is saving his money from his job in the parks department for the City of Casper. His plan is to take another European vacation hopefully next year after college is out for the summer, or after he finishes college. It is my guess that James will make a number of trips there in the future. James has big plans for his future, and I know that he will be very successful. Today is James’ 21st birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Since I was a caregiver for 13 years before the passing of the last of my parents and in-laws early in January of this year, I can tell you that being a caregiver, or a CNA is a big job that often gets very little recognition. Many people don’t really have any desire to do such a job, but because they remain in caregiving positions, Career Nursing Assistants provide predictability and stability to care, which in turn enhances the feeling of security for our aging, frail, or chronically challenged population. CNAs also bring wisdom, patience, humor, and a general attitude of caring to the daily lives of the residents in their care.

Today is National Career Nursing Assistants Day. It is a day founded by the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants to promote recognition, education, research, advocacy and peer support development for nursing assistants in nursing homes and other long-term care settings. This is especially close to my heart for a number of reasons, such as the care given to my parents and in-law, but most recently because my daughter, Corrie Petersen is now a CNA working toward her degree as a nurse. She currently works at Elkhorn Rehabilitation Hospital in Casper, Wyoming, and we couldn’t be more proud of her. Having been a caregiver, I can tell you that the work that CNAs do is vital to the well-being of their patients, whether in a nursing home facility, a physical therapy facility (which is where my daughter works), at the patient’s home, or in hospice facilities.

According to the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants, “Nursing Assistants are the best thing about ‘caring.'” Nursing Assistants “Brighten Lives” according to Dawn Silva, CNA, New Hampshire, and member “Safe Patient Handling” committee. As more and more people are living longer, caring for the elderly has become more and more vital. With that care comes an increased focus on the people who care for the elderly…largely nurses and CNAs. It’s a noble occupation. While the work is hard, and what some might consider demeaning, the sense of peace it gives the patients makes being a CNA worth it.

Every CNA is a blessing to those they care for and the nursing staff they work with. They support the facility they work in and the patients they care for. They bring a smile to the faces of their patients, and the patients are grateful for the help they receive. I don’t know of a facility out there that could run effectively without its CNAs, and I know how hard it is when a facility is shorthanded on CNAs. It makes everything harder for everyone working there, and especially harder on the patients who depend on them every day. Today is National Career Nursing Assistants Day. I am very proud of my daughter, Corrie Petersen, and of all the other CNAs I know. Thank you all for the work you do. Have a wonderful day, each and every one of you!! Happy National Career Nursing Assistants Day!!

My nephew, Garrett Stevens is a busy man these days. Taking after his grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer, Garrett became a welder, and when his wife Kayla was hired at the Wyoming Mental Health Clinic, in Sheridan, Wyoming, they moved from Casper to Sheridan. Garrett was quickly hired by Craftco Metals Services as a welder. Garrett really loves his job and the people he works with, and they really love him and his work too. He is one of their go-to people now, and therefore he is getting lots of overtime. He does out of town work in Rock Springs, Laramie, Wright, Gillette. It means being away form home some, but because Garrett is now the expectant father of a baby girl, who is due to make her appearance around August 22, the extra money has come in handy as he and Kayla prepare for their baby.

They were also able to buy Garrett a 2006 ½ ton GMC Denali pickup, which he has wanted for a while now. Garrett was also given his grandpa’s old pickup when he passed away, and he has just moved it to Sheridan so that he can work on it…if he has any spare time, that is. In addition to the pickup and his job, Garrett is busy preparing their house for the arrival of their daughter. With a new addition to the family, there is always lots to do to prepare. Bedrooms often need to be painted, and baby furniture must be put together. A baby shower was held for Garrett’s wife, Kayla a week ago, so now there is a lot to be organized, and a crib to put together, but then, I expect that Garrett has already done that job. Garrett has loved kids for as long as I’ve known him…all his life, so I’m sure that getting a child of his own is really a dream come true for Garrett and Kayla. And, the rest of us can’t wait to meet her either!! Garrett will be a great dad. It is a job he has practiced for most of his life.

In his “spare” time, Garrett loves most sports. He loves to hunt, fish, and watch just about any sport on television. He and Kayla also enjoy walking their dog on any of the local trails. Life is pretty busy these, but also very happy. They will be even more content when their baby girl gets here. Then they will really be rockin’ the overtime. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In the old west, few women went on to get a higher education, and even fewer became doctors. It was thought of as a man’s occupation, and the few women who dared to go into that field, were often looked at with distrust, and even disdain. People thought that women belonged in the home raising a family. Some didn’t even attempt to hide the dislike of women in medicine. Susan Anderson, MD was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1870. Her family moved to the mining camp of Cripple Creek, Colorado during her childhood. In 1893, Anderson left Cripple Creek to attend medical school at the University of Michigan. She graduated in 1897. During her time in medical school, Anderson contracted tuberculosis and soon returned to her family in Cripple Creek, where she set up her first practice.

Anderson spent the next three years sympathetically tending to patients, but her father insisted that Cripple Creek, a lawless mining town at the time. He felt like it was no place for a woman, so Anderson moved to Denver. In Denver, she had a tough time securing patients. The people in Denver were reluctant to see a woman doctor. She then moved to Greeley, Colorado, where she worked as a nurse for six years. Somehow, people accepted a woman as a nurse, probably because they looked at it as just following the orders of the doctor, who was ultimately in charge.

Her tuberculosis got worse during this time, so she felt she needed a more cold and dry climate. She made the decision to move to Fraser, Colorado in 1907. Fraser’s elevation of over 8,500 feet, definitely made the area cold and dry. Anderson was most concerned with getting her disease under control and didn’t open a practice. She didn’t even tell people that she was a doctor. Nevertheless, the word soon got out and the locals began to ask for her advice on various ailments, which soon led to her practicing her skills once again. Her reputation spread as she treated families, ranchers, loggers, railroad workers, and even an occasional horse or cow, which was not uncommon at the time. The vast majority of her patients required her to make house calls, though she never owned a horse or a car. Instead, she dressed in layers, wore high hip boots, and trekked through deep snows and freezing temperatures to reach her patients. Now that is dedication…especially for a woman trying to recover from Tuberculosis.

During the many years that “Doc Susie,” which she familiarly became known as, practiced in the high mountains of Grand County, one of her busiest times was during the Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1919. Like people all over the world, Fraser locals also became sick in great numbers, and Dr Anderson found herself rushing from one deathbed to the next.
Another busy time for her was when the six-mile Moffat Tunnel was being built through the Rocky Mountains. Not long after construction began, she found herself treating numerous men who were injured during construction. During this time, she was also asked to become the Grand County Coroner, a position that enabled her to confront the Tunnel Commission regarding working conditions and accidents. She hoped to make a difference. In the five years it took to complete the tunnel, there were about 19 who died and hundreds injured.

Unlike physicians of today, Dr Anderson never became “rich” practicing her skills. Im not even sure you would say she made a middle class living, because she was often paid in firewood, food, services, and other items that could be bartered. Doc Susie continued to practice in Fraser until 1956. She died in Denver on April 16, 1960 and was buried in Cripple Creek, Colorado.

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