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Sawdon-web-bannerPeople’s lives change at least a little bit every day, but not every birthday brings the kind of changes that this one brought for my nephew, Jason Sawdon. Of course the changes didn’t happen on his birthday either, but it’s a big change nevertheless. You see, the last birthday Jason had, he was not a daddy. This year is totally different, and he hasn’t been a daddy for very long either. That amazing, exciting day happened on August 25, 2016…less than a month ago. He and my niece, Jessi are still trying to wrap their minds around parenthood. Not being parents, as in how to do so, but being parents, as in she’s really here. It’s really true. And they are having just the best time being daddy and mommy.

Jason and JessiJason has been a Wyoming Highway Patrolman for some time now, and he is very good at his job…even becoming Trooper of the Year for 2015. Jason is a great trooper, but for him, nothing compares to how good he feels about being a husband and daddy. Like most daddies…especially daddies of daughters, I have a feeling that Jason is already living his life wrapped around his daughter, Adelaide’s baby finger. The funny thing about these daddies…they don’t really care if that’s where they live. They love that little girl so much.

img_5013I have always loved that person Jason is. He has a great smile, and he loves his girls…Jessi, Adelaide, and their boxer dog, Daisy. Jason is currently surrounded by women, and I don’t think he minds that one bit. In fact, I think Jason is loving have his girls around him. He is the kind of guy who knows how to make his girls feel special. I particularly recall a cake sale, when he wouldn’t let Jessi’s cake be sold for less than $100.00. That would just never do. Of course, Jessi is a great cook, but Jason wanted everyone to know the value of his wife’s cake. If he could have done priceless, I think he would have. That’s what he thinks of all his girls. It’s all a part of who Jason is. He is very thankful for all the blessings he has received, and he thinks his whole life is pretty priceless.

Mable Begier as phone operatorAfter my husband, Bob’s 2nd great grandma, Mary LuLu Taylor remarried, following the death of her first husband, James Leary, on March 26, 1888, she and her second husband had three children, bringing to four the total number of her children. Her life had taken her from Forsyth, Montana to Shelby, Missouri, where she met James Begier, who became her second husband. Later, they would move to several other times, but Montana always seemed to be in her blood and she would return there several times. Her daughter Mabel Claire Begier met and married her husband, Edward Anthony Brown in Rosebud, Montana. I’m not positive at what point Mabel became a telephone operator, but she did, and as it turns out, that’s where she was working during one of the floods that took place in Montana. That job, at that time in history, put her right in the middle of a serious situation, and in a position to help those in need of assistance.

When we think of any disaster…be it fire, earthquake, tornado, or flood, our first instinct these days is to dial 911 on our phones. That has become the go to number for all kinds of help in times of need. That wasn’t always the case though. Years ago, it was the operator you called for help. You simply dialed “0” to get in touch with someone who could connect you with any branch of emergency help there was…as well as to let everyone else in town know about the emergency…at least back then they could. Privacy laws would have prevented that these days. Of course, if it was a big emergency, letting everyone know would be her job.

Mable Begier as phone operator 2Mabel Begier was an operator during an emergency that would have qualified as one in which it was acceptable to let people know, but then my guess is that most people already knew that it was coming. Floods in towns where you live near a river are common in the Spring, especially after a particularly high snowfall year. People who live near rivers already know that Spring means that you have to watch the water levels, stay prepared to evacuate, and stay informed at all times. At that time in history, when a warning needed to be sent out, you called the operator to get the warning out. That was where Mabel came in, and she loved her job. I think the job that she had was very important, and she was a key part of the emergency efforts of that era.

Lift Bridge at Minnesota Point, Duluth, MinnesotaBecause I was born in Superior, Wisconsin, located at the tip of Lake Superior, and across the bridge from Duluth, Minnesota, I am interested in all things that have to do with that area. My family moved to Casper, Wyoming when I was three, so I was not raised in that area, but somehow, it is in my blood. I will always have roots I can feel there. We still have a large number of family members there, and we continue to get to know them more and more due to a trip back there, and continued connections on Facebook. For that family we are very grateful, because they are all amazing.

As I said, I love the area around Lake Superior, and the shipping business that comes through there is an amazing thing to watch. In order for shipping to thrive on Lake Superior, they had to have a way to get the big oar boats and other large ships into the port. In 1892, a contest was held to find a solution for the transportation needs to go from Minnesota Point to the other side of the canal that was dug in 1871. a man named John Low Waddell came up with the winning design for a high rise vertical lift bridge. The city of Duluth was eager to build the bridge, but the War Department didn’t like the design, and so the project was cancelled before it started. It really was an unfortunate mistake.

IMG_3700Later, new plans were drawn up for a structure that would ferry people from one side to the other. This one was designed by Thomas McGilvray, a city engineer. That structure was finished in 1905. The gondola had a capacity of 60 tons and was able to carry 350 people, plus wagons, streetcars, and automobiles. The trip across took about a minutes and the ferry crossed once every five minutes, but as the population grew, the demand for a better way across grew too. They would have to rethink the situation, and amazingly, he firm finally commissioned with designing the new bridge was the descendant of Waddell’s company…the original design winner. The new design, which closely resembles the 1892 concept, is attributed to C.A.P. Turner. I guess they should have used that design in the first place, and it might have saved a lot of money.

Construction began in 1929. They knew that they had to be able to accommodate the tall ships that would pass through. In the new design, the roadway simply lifted in the middle, and after the ship went through it lowered IMG_3750again, becoming a bridge for cars. The design is amazing, and grabs the attention of thousands of people on a regular basis. The new bridge first lifted for a vessel on March 29, 1930. Raising the bridge to its full height of 135 feet takes about a minute. The bridge is raised approximately 5,000 times per year. The bridge span is about 390 feet. As ships pass, there is a customary horn blowing sequence that is copied back. The bridge’s “horn” is actually made up of two Westinghouse Airbrake locomotive horns. Long-short-long-short means to raise the bridge, and Long-short-short is a friendly salute. The onlookers love it, and the crews often wave as well. It is like a parade of ships on a daily basis, and probably the reason that the bridge is so often the subject of pictures of the area. Happy 86th Anniversary to the Duluth Lift Bridge.

Caryn watching televisionTelevision was invented by a 21 year old man named Philo Taylor Farnsworth, and first successfully demonstrated in San Francisco on Sept. 7, 1927. It’s odd to think that my dad, Allen Spencer lived both before the invention of television and after it. I suppose that isn’t so very odd, because I have lived before and after the cell phone, and that doesn’t seem strange to me at all, so I suppose it didn’t seem strange to my dad either. Then, on March 25, 1954…just a month and a half before my sister, Cheryl Masterson was born, RCA announced that it had begun producing the first color television sets in its Bloomington, Indiana plant.

I’m sure it was a while before most homes made the move to color televisions, and RCA-CTC162-ColorTVthen, of course, there was the wait for shows to be filmed in color. I know that I remember watching a black and white television, and I’m sure most people my age can say the same. The current generation would have no idea what it was like to watch a black and white television, or an early color television. They have seen everything from HD television, to cell phones with television, as well as tablets. The old televisions would seem completely antiquated…and in reality, my generation would look at them that way too. It amazes me just how quickly we get used to new technology, and it amazes me just how long people will hold on to the old stuff before making the transition too. I suppose some think that if it isn’t broken, there is no reason to replace it just yet, but others simply wait until the see how well this new fangled gadget is going to work, or if it’s around very long. So many fads come and go, and are never New TVsheard from again. Others, like televisions, cell phones, and computers are here to stay.

Television sets have gone from average size to ultra big, to ultra small, and everything in between. Of course, as we all know, the television has continues to improve in color and clarity too. Sometimes I think the color is almost better than real life…if that’s possible. With new abilities in editing, color can be enhanced to amazing levels. I’m sure that there are some people who would think enhanced color is not a good thing, and sometimes…if it seems completely outlandish, I would have to agree, but when it comes to watching television, I think they do a pretty good job, and I can’t imagine going back to a black and white television.

Steve, Jenny, and Princess LailaPrincess LailaWhen a parent loses a child, of any age, each birthday becomes a time to ponder on what might have been, if the child had lived. For so many parents, there are no answers. Their child is gone, and they have no way to gauge where they would be now or what they would be doing. There is just the emptiness of loss that is left, and wondering what might have been.

No new child can replace another child that has passed, but for my niece Jenny Spethman and her husband Steve, the fact that they had a rainbow baby, who was a girl named Aleesia Juliette, in some ways has helped a little bit. They have been able to envision what their little Laila Elizabeth would have been like at these ages. Of course, as I said, that does not replace Laila, and she is missed every single day, but God gave them Aleesia to cheer their broken hearts, at least a little bit.

Since today would have been Laila Elizabeth’s fifth birthday, they know that like Aleesia, Laila would have been going to pre-school, and learning all the exciting things that there are to see and do in this wonderful world that God created. She would have been a girly girl, like her sister, and they can envision the two of them giggling and laughing as they play their many little girl games. It’s easy to picture them both dancing around the room together, and yet chasing after their big brothers, Xander, Zack, and Isaac, because no little girl can be the little sister of three older brothers and not be a tiny bit tomboy. Laila would have been the princess of the house, just as her little sister, Aleesia is, and of course, she would be the boss of the boys like Aleesia is too, because those boys just think their sister hung the moon.

None of these things make this day, Laila’s 5th birthday an easier day to take, nor with they help with the day she went to Heaven, November 22, but in some ways, they do give a glimpse into what might have been. And if Jenny and Steve are able to use their imagination a little bit, I’m sure they can picture their little Princess Laila and their little Princess Aleesia playing together. They know too, that they will see Laila again when we all join her in Heaven, and I know that they know that her great grandparents, are all getting to know her right now, but the heart doesn’t understand those things any more than the little kids do. Their hearts just want her back, because thinking about what might have been isn’t the same as havimg her here at all, in fact, it is the hardest thing a parent will ever have to do.Jenny's mini meMischievious Princess Aleesia

Today is Princess Laila Elzabeth Spethman’s 5th birthday. She knows we love her, miss her, and can’t wait to see her again, and we know that she is happily playing in Heaven and having a wonderful day. You live in our hearts until we see you again. Happy birthday in Heaven Princess Laila!! Have a wonderful birthday!! We love and miss you very much!! Hugs and kisses baby girl.

10653815_10203120678073749_584939759546150558_na100_0023When I was a kid, dressing up for Halloween was for kids. Things have changed since then and these days you see lots of adults going to parties, teenagers roaming the streets trick or treating, scaring kids or just acting weird…and of course, there are still the little kids doing their usual thing…collecting candy. It’s the night when everything is turned upside down. Kids are taken to do things they normally aren’t allowed to do…knock on the doors in their neighborhoods and ask for candy. Of course, most are also, schooled in all the safety tips designed to keep then safe as they go, because lets face it, they are excited, and there is always the possibility of one of them running across the street without really looking first…hence the need for watchful parents.

It’s much different today, than things were in my day, because while my dad always took us out trick or treating, we didn’t have to be worried about the candy we received. We made a haul. In fact, we took a pillowcase to collect our candy in, knowing full well that we would almost fill it up, and sometimes we even had to go home, empty it out and go out again. These days, kids only go to the homes of people they know…for the most part. Candy must be x-rayed to assure its safety. Many children are taken to places like the mall or to 1896927_10205212699852986_7498749312055281589_nparties. All this to insure their safety in this unsafe world we live in now.

Most of the teenagers either don’t participate, work, or stay at home to hand out candy, but lots of them go out with their friends. One hopes that the majority of those teenagers are not out getting into trouble, but often that is not the case. At least for the troublemaking group. There are still good teenagers, who respect authority, their parents, and their elders. I am thankful that I live in a state where most teenagers are still taught good values, and I wish that was so in all the states in our nation.

This year, my youngest grandson, Josh Petersen is participating in something new for Halloween. Although it is not a Halloween event, it requires him to don a costume, but please don’t call it an outfit or costume, because it has a specific name…bunkers. Josh’s event is not a party or haunted house or really anything that has anything to do with Halloween, but is does require going into a situation that is very much out of the ordinary for him, and strange for us, his family, to think about. Josh is doing fire science training at the drill tower today. The training will include a practice fire, in which real fire will be used…hence the unusual situation 10676195_10202953479705529_3463465173877702689_n[1]Firefighter Joshinvolving a building, that most of us would consider a nightmare if it happened in a building we were in. While these are not a real fire situations, it is these training sessions that prepare our firefighters for the real life scenarios they will face on the job. Yes, this is an unusual way for a seventeen year old to spend a Saturday, especially on Halloween, but it is one that Josh will find exciting, inspiring, and a great learning experience for the career he has chosen to take on. We are all very proud of him.

Whatever Halloween finds you and your family doing, I hope you have a great evening, be safe, watchful, respectful, and have fun. Happy Halloween!!

Reagan and Hattie Parmely among the giantsFor children who are raised around livestock, walking among the giants is not an unusual event…even when they are as young as one year old and just barely walking themselves. For those of us who are not around livestock on a daily basis, the thought of those little tiny children walking among those giant horses is not so common, and therefore a bit of a shock to our system when we see it. It’s not that I think that my niece, Ashley Parmely’s parents’ horses would hurt her girls, Reagan and Hattie, because they are obviously very gentle. No, what I really find amazing about seeing the girls with the horses is an absolute lack of fear. They have been raised around the horses, and the other animals they raise, so they know how to act around them. They know that the horses will be gentle to them, if they are gently toward the horses, and what I find especially sweet, is the instinctive gentleness the girls have around the horses.

So many kids tend to pet an animal roughly, pull on its tail, or even hit the animal, but Reagan and Hattie have a deep love for their horses, and they are so gentle with them. The horses, in kind, return that love back to the girls. Their feelings are just so obvious. You might not think that an animal can have a look of love Reagan and horseyon their face, but I think these horses do. I’m sure my nephew, Eric Parmely, and Ashley, his wife, have taken the necessary time to prepare the horses for these little girls to be around them, and especially on the ground near their feet, and I’m sure they have taught the girls how to act around the horses too. Still, how much teaching can a three year old and a one year old have had to have prepared them to be so gentle around these giants. Yet, they are just that…gentle, sweet, and loving toward the horses.

Animals can sense things about people. They know when people are afraid. They can tell when people will be mean. And they can tell when a person is kind and gentle. And I think that with Eric and Ashley’s little girls, Reagan and Hattie, the horses sense a loving kindness and a desire to care for the horses that many children just don’t possess. I don’t know if Ashley was always raised around horses or not, but for as long as this family has known her, she has been around her parents horses. To her they are a part of the family, and that is how she is raising her little girls too. It’s really no wonder that the girls are at ease around the horses, and the Hattie and horseyhorses around them. The girls probably seem like little sisters to them.

Nevertheless, I am still amazed that these two little girls are comfortable walking around with these giants. To me, the mere size of these horses would seem daunting if I were a girl as little as these girls. I love looking at these pictures though, because they portray a companionship that is very rare in the world I live in. I suppose that if I was raised on a ranch, maybe they would not seem so astonishing. And since, Reagan and Hattie will be raised in that environment, I suppose these are scenes that will not be so unusual. I think that these little girls will be very blessed to be comfortable, and yes, to just be allowed to walk among these giants.

Last break before the shoulder breakFor most of my life, I can say that I had never broken a bone. but on October 18, 2015, all that changed. As my associates, Jim Stengel and Carrie Beauchamp said, I have now “joined the Broken Bone Club” and that the only membership dues was to have broken a bone somewhere in the body. I didn’t really ever want to join this club to be honest. I think they view me as an overachiever though, because as everyone has told me, I did a bang up job on my shoulder. I was on a simple hike on Casper Mountain’s Bridle Trail to celebrate the victorious journey to health of my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, who had become ill two years to the day, and had gone on to make an amazing recovery. I suppose that it is true that I did a bang up job on my shoulder, in that you almost never see a break like this one, unless it was a bad car accident, or a bad fall. The fall itself wasn’t that bad, but the bone did break on impact. It was the twisting movement that happened after the break that caused the ball of my shoulder joint to twist a quarter turn in the socket, thus requiring surgery, including a plate and nine screws, to be necessary to make the repairs. That surgery was a week ago, and I have learned so much in that one very long week.

It has been just ten days since my life was turned upside down, and I went from being a caregiver to a care It's Healing Nicelyreceiver. What a shock to my system that was. My mind does not really like the concept of needing help with my daily needs. Nevertheless, that has become the case. I am very thankful to the group of experienced people I had with me at the time of my fall. My sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely is a nurse, and a friend of my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, Laura Murray is a physical therapist, The two of them immediately set about making a sling out of a Laura’s dog’s leash and Jennifer’s handkerchief. Jennifer’s boyfriend, Brian Cratty is an prior life flight pilot, and my husband, Bob Schulenberg and sister-in-law, Brenda are experienced caregivers. As I was laying on the ground trying to control the feeling of needing to pass out, two CNAs, who’s names I do not know, unfortunately, came up behind us and helped get me to my feet, and fashion a gait belt for me out of a sweatshirt, so I could walk the last three quarters of a mile to finish the hike and go to the hospital. I could not have asked for a better group of people to have with me…if I just had to break my shoulder.

While that group was amazing, and I owe then more than I can ever repay, it has been something within my self that I have found to be equally amazing, since my fall. It is the power I have in my right arm…the power of one, as I call it. People do not think about how many things take the use of both arms to do. When you are down to one arm, you find out just how strong…or weak it is. Thankfully for me, it was my non-dominate arm that suffered the break. My power of one level would have been far less successful had it been my dominate arm that suffered the break. Still, my right arm, which is the dominate arm, did have to be retrained. There Dressed Myselfwere things that I simply could not do without assistance at first, but in my minds refusal to truly be a care receiver, I continued to think of ways and try to do things one handed, if I could find a way. In less than a day, I was able to put my contacts in one handed, with just the assistance of my teeth to open the container of my dailies lenses.

In less than a week I could dress myself, including jeans, for which I fashioned a way to button them with a ribbon and minimal help from my left hand. I figured our ways to get my shoes and socks on one handed too. I did makeup one handed and brushed my hair one handed. I typed my stories one handed, and even lifted my laptop onto my lap one handed. While there were a number of things I couldn’t do one handed, I must say, I’m surprised at the things I could. We don’t often think about how important it is to have both hands to perform our daily tasks, until we don’t have both hands. Having the use of just one arm is a set back to be sure, and a serious inconvenience, but after spending the last ten days in just that predicament, I can also say that I am very much amazed at the power of my one arm.

10898279_10202428441787483_2454481185682822420_nMy niece, Susan Cook Griffith, spent a number of years working in the area of graphics. Then, she decided that it was time for a change. Susan accepted a position at Powell Valley Healthcare, where she works in Medicare Insurance billing for the nursing home. She also does bookkeeping for Body and Paint by Tait, which is where her husband, Josh works. I think that job has been a great blessing for Susan too, because she told me a while back that sometimes Josh has to work late into the evening, so she doesn’t get to see him as much then, and it makes it hard.

Susan and Josh are very much in love, and theirs is really a storybook tale of romance, so time spent apart is hard. I think those of us with a blessed, loving marriage can certainly relate to that. Theirs was a blended family, as Susan had a daughter, Jala when they met. Their marriage has been blessed with a second daughter, Kaytlyn, and now their family is complete. A couple of years ago, they moved to a piece of land by Josh’s parents, where they get to enjoy his parents’ horses. There are magnificent views and sunsets there, and Susan often posts pictures of them on Facebook. Being a sunset person myself, I can appreciate her great pictures of them.11188394_10203273941164439_8588112623352002944_n

Susan is very close to her sister, Machelle Cook Moore, and the two of them can often be found teasing each other on Facebook. It is a traditional sister thing, I think. Having come from a family of girls, and having two daughters myself, I can totally relate to the close relationships of sisters. Sisters are a unique group of people. There is a camaraderie there, that lasts a lifetime, and they usually share so many likes and dislikes that they are often more like best friends than sisters. That is how Susan and her sister, Machelle are. They often talk about what a great sister, their sister has. A comment that sounds so typical of my sisters and me, as well as my girls.

Susan loves being a wife and mother, and considers those jobs her main calling in life. She loves doing things for her daughters, such as the birthday party she threw for Jala this summer. Having a sleepover birthday party involves a lot of planning, and all the girls had a great time, so I know that Susan did a great job of 10420765_10203273939364394_8046789384830422528_nplanning it. Kids get bored easily, and you have to be on top of your game in order to have a successful party.

Susan and Josh love to take the girls camping, hiking, and fishing and do so as often as they can. They love being outdoors, which is probably one of the main reasons for the move to the country. Of course, for most campers, by this time of year, the camping is pretty much over for the season. I don’t camp anymore, but I hike, so summer ending is never a good thing. For Susan, it means no more camping though…until next year anyway, unless Josh likes to hunt. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

DustieMy niece, Dustie Masterson is the daughter-in-law of my sister, Cheryl Masterson. Dustie’s loyalty to her mother-in-law is quite unusual. I don’t say that there aren’t daughters-in-law who are loyal and loving toward their mothers-in-law, because there are, and I am one of them, but many don’t feel any real obligation to their in-laws. Dustie is different, however. With Dustie, I see a genuine loyalty, friendship, and even love for her mother-in-law. She has truly become a part of their family, a fact that we are all happy about.

Dustie works at Albertson’s here is Casper, in the produce department. She is a Fresh Cut Specialist and Supervisor. She is also over all the salads that are created in the store. She sees all the latest in different sauces and salsas, and often buys them for Cheryl to try. I’ve had the opportunity to try some of them too, and I find that Dustie’s likes and dislikes in the food arena are very similar to my own. It is a yummy connection when I get together with Cheryl and her family on Thursday nights. For Cheryl, it is a welcome help in the kitchen, and the fact that Dustie is a good cook doesn’t hurt either.

1533909_1407746082798271_1468292285_n[1]Dustie’s life is usually very busy. With a husband and three children at home, and a full time job, she spends a lot of her time running whether it be at home, work, or errands. Evenings are spent helping the kids, Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna with their homework, and getting them lined out for school the next day. As most parents know, having kids in school is like being in school yourself, because you have to learn right along with them in order to help them with their homework, and yet, you have to be a teacher too, n that you can’t do the work, but rather you must make them do it with the proper amount of prompting. And of course, you have to be the educational encourager, to keep them motivated.

It’s a busy life that Dustie leads, but one that makes her very happy. Dustie has been a part of our family for over 12 years now, and I, for one, don’t know what we would do without her. She was a blessing during the years we were taking care of our parents, and she always will be. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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