To hear my grand-nephew, Jake Harman talk, his wife Melanie has become “meaner” since their marriage, but of course, I know what a jokester my nephew is, so I know he’s kidding. Melanie is a very sweet girl, who is very loving and kind to Jake and everyone else around her. In fact, I think it is probably Melanie’s kind and patient ways that have made Jake into the man he is today. You see, if either of them has changed, it is Jake…and it is pretty much all because of Melanie. Jake is so happy these days. He feels so blessed with the life he now has. These days Jake has a daughter, Izabella and a son Jaxx, plus a bonus baby Alice, all of whom he loves very much. And it’s all because of Melanie, and the great love she has for Jake and their three children.

Melanie is all about her family. She is a great mom, who is feeling just a little bit sad, as school approaches. It’s not that she hasn’t been through the child in school stage, but now she will have two in school. Alice is going into 2nd grade, and Izabella is going into pre-school. While she will still have Jaxx at home, it just feels like so much is changing…so very fast. It is somewhere around this point that a mother starts getting a little bit sentimental. She’s missing her babies before they are even grown. In her heart, she knows it’s coming…and coming fast.

Melanie’s heart is with her family, but it is also with the Lord. She sings with the worship team at their church, and also helps with the youth ministry, which Jake heads up. Melanie is in charge of the games for the youth. Much is changing at home, but that isn’t the only pace. While Melanie will be missing her girls during the day, she is going to be busy, because she is also going to school…for worship study. She’s already a part of the worship team, and directs the youth singing, and helps Jake with the youth, but her dream is to be the worship leader for the whole church. It’s a lofty goal, but one I think Melanie can accomplish. The biggest part of reaching that goal is having a love for the Lord and for the work He has for you. Today is Melanie’s birthday. Happy birthday Melanie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Mike Reed is becoming quite the rancher. A few years back, Mike and my sister, Caryl bought a ranch west of Casper, and started fixing it up. It was…a process, to say the least. The ranch had been a sheep ranch, and had a huge complex that was used for birthing lambs. Since Mike and Caryl were not going to raise sheep, and because of the disrepair of the complex, they had to be demolished and removed. Since that difficult job, Mike and Caryl have been working very hard to get their ranch ready for their future retirement plans. They are boarding horses, and they have a ranch hand who lives on the ranch and takes care of things, since they are currently still living in Rawlins, and coming to Casper for the weekends. The have been building a house and a barn, and this weekend, they are putting together side roll wheels for irrigation, as they continue to get ready for the hay field they are planning to plant. They are becoming real ranchers, in every way. It is one among several of the new chapters in their lives.

Recently, they decided to buy a Trike, and they have found that they really enjoy their outings. They joined with some friends, including Mike’s brother, Shawn and his wife Tia for a 300 mile poker run from Saratoga, Wyoming through the Snowy Mountains, into Laramie, Wyoming, then back to Saratoga via Walden, Colorado and Riverside, Wyoming. They had a really great time. In fact they had so much fun that they have made plans over Labor Day to take a trip up to Red Lodge, Montana.

Mike is a avid hunter, and he has made several trips to hunt, including Canada, Alaska, and Africa. Mike is getting ready to take another hunting trip to Alaska in September with his good friend, Scott Penman, to hunt Alaskan Moose. This trip will be what is called a drop hunt, which means that the plane lets them off at a camp spot and then leaves them there on their own. Then it comes back for them later. Mike is pretty excited about this hunt, and according to my sister, he’s been gathering everything together for months!! I don’t know, maybe he’s a little excited!! I’m sure the guys will have a great time, and I hope their hunt is successful. These kinds of trips really get Mike’s adrenalin going. Today is Mike’s birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

A little over eight years ago, I wrote a story about my sister, Caryl Reed and how my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and I used to attack her and give her the “tickle torture” on a fairly regular basis. Little did I know then, the impact that story would have on my readers. In the eight years the story has been up, it has received 1016 comments, which is far more than any other story I have written. I have had countless numbers of people tell me their own stories about being tortured or being the torturer. Several have suggested that I need to write another story on tickle torturing tales, and with that, Tickle Tales was conceived in my head. I thought I might highlight some of the funniness that has been born of the Tickle Torture craze.

One friend, Suzy approached me with some ideas to get her siblings, and after enlisting the help of her particularly devious brother-in-law, the tickle “chair” was born. The tickle chair really isn’t a chair at all, but is a portable set of “stocks” to lock the victim’s feet in place while the torturers tickle away. Now I’ve never had this done to me, but I can tell you that anytime you can’t kick or get away from your tickle attacker…the situation becomes a true form of “friendly” torture. While some people might think this harsh, their family loved it, and even made bets on things, like football games to decide who the next victim was. As far as I know this is now a new tradition in their family.

A couple I’m friends with, Mike and Ashley asked me for some ideas to get started on their own betting scheme. After a number of times at being Mike’s victim, Ashley and her girlfriends finally exacted her revenge. Mike had made a habit of taking a nap on the couch…an “unfortunate” mistake for him, and so the girls managed to place ropes under the couch and tied his hands and feet to the legs of the couch. Helpless to fight them off, the girls gave him the tickle torture of a lifetime. Mike is a good sport, and even being given a pedicure by his captors didn’t upset him. It did, however, make him decide that revenge was the only logical response to this. He got his revenge using feathers on Ashley’s feet, while her toes were tied together. Their current bet involves the loser on this years’ football games, and a Super Bowl Revenge that will be carried out over the course of the Super Bowl game…the whole game…when they score, or commercial breaks, half time show, and of course, the game ending finale!! Yikes!! I pity the loser in this competition!!

Tickle Torture is a great way to keep life interesting, and as long as everybody is a good sport about it, can bring a lot of laughs. The thing I find funny is that even while being tickled, very few people get upset, because tickling isn’t, after all, painful. And it does make you laugh!! I don’t think that Tickle Torture will ever be a thing of the past. It’s just too much fun!! Have you tickled someone today?

We have all tried our hand at skipping stones across the water, but who would have thought that such an idea could be applied to a bomb, or that it would ultimately become extremely successful in accomplishing its given task…destroying German dams and hydroelectric plants along the Ruhr valley.

During World War II, the Allies we’re desperate to cut off energy to the Nazi war machine, so the Allied engineers were given the task of finding a way to breach the defenses surrounding the dams and hydroelectric plants. In the end, it was British engineer, Barnes Wallis who came through with what he called “bouncing bombs.” To watch it in action, one is reminded of skipping stones like most of us have done in the past. In similar fashion, the bomb skips along the water bouncing over the torpedo nets to hit its target.

When World War II began, Germany had the undisputed upper hand when it came to water-based warfare with their deadly U-boats and defensive “torpedo nets” placed strategically in front of their energy-creating dams. This made it next to impossible to hit the dams with the traditional torpedo. The British Royal Air Force was determined to take out these German battlements, as they slowly wore the Axis of Evil down.

The problem was, how to somehow get past the torpedo nets, to destroy the dams and their hydroelectric plants. Wallis had to figure out how to bypass the torpedo nets, in order to make direct contact with the wall of the dams. It seemed like an insurmountable task. After dwelling on the problem for a while, Wallis seized on the potential of the Magnus effect, which would bounce a bomb across the water like a skipping stone.

The theory was to create backspin, which would counter the gravity and send the bomb skimming over the water. Once it bounced over the torpedo net, it hit the designated target. The plan seemed plausible, and the Royal Air Force commenced Operation Chastise on May 16, 1943. The results were spectacular!! As it turned out, Barnes Wallis really knew his stuff.

After spending most of his life driving trucks of some kind, and being out of town a lot, my brother-in-law, Lynn Cook, who goes by LJ, got a job in on of the mines in the Powell area. He didn’t want to be so far away from his family anymore. I think a lot of people realize that as our kids grow up, we start to realize just how quickly time passes. Before we know it our kids are adults and they are married with kids of their own. I think it is often at this point that we wish we could go back in time. It’s not that we would trade the grandchildren, for anything, but it seems to be at that point that it occurs you that you really feel the loss of the childhood years of your babies.

LJ has taken a hands on approach with his kids and grandchildren now, more than he could in the past. We all do it. Then we realize that if our kids hadn’t grown up, we wouldn’t have these precious grandchildren either…or our children’s spouses either. So, we accept that the kids are grown, and rejoice in the gift of grandchildren. That time happened for LJ a number of years ago, and now, the oldest of his four grandchildren has graduated for high school, with more to follow very soon.

Suddenly, just like it was with his kids, LJ realizes that soon the grandkids will be married and having children…his great grandchildren. Suddenly it seems, time is slipping away again. There will be times when the grandkids are away at college, and then you never really know if they will move back to your town, or relocate somewhere else, making it harder to see them as often, and suddenly you realize that you may never get to be as close to your great grandkids as you were with your kids. Still, you will always love those precious little ones, because they are a part of you…and they always will be. Today is LJ’s birthday. Happy birthday LJ!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

It’s not a common thing…having your first child on your birthday, but it is what my grandmother, Anna Schumacher Spencer did when she gave birth to her first daughter, Laura Spencer Fredrick, on August 3, 1912, when grandma was 25 years old. It would be ten years before my grandparents would have another child, but no one in the family knows why. After my Uncle Bill was born in 1922, my dad, Allen quickly followed in 1924, and my Aunt Ruth in 1925. Nevertheless, they had just Aunt Laura for ten years. I really wish Grandma had known that her 2nd great granddaughter, Elliott Stevens would share in that joint birthday too. I think she and Aunt Laura would have liked that very much.

Grandma and Aunt Laura did everything together. They were not just mom and daughter, but best friends too. They shopped and traveled, and they worked around the house together. Grandpa was often away working, so Aunt Laura was Grandma’s companion much of the time. They were very close, and Aunt Laura was a big help to her mom.

When Uncle Bill came along, Grandma was running a hotel, and ten year old Aunt Laura became her right hand helper and almost full time nanny. I don’t know how Grandma could have done it all without the help of her dear daughter. They shared much more than just their birthdays, they shared the workload, the child rearing, and their memories I’m sure. When Aunt Laura married in 1932, just before her 20th birthday, she and her husband, Fritz moved to Minneapolis from their home in Holyoke, I’m sure that Grandma felt the loss deeply. Minneapolis isn’t that far, but too far to visit daily. Today is the day 132nd anniversary of Grandma Spencer’s birth, and it is the 107th anniversary of Aunt Laura’s birth. Happy birthday to both of you in Heaven. We love and miss you both very much.

One year ago today, a sweet little curly haired girl named Elliott Stevens was born to my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his wife, Kayla. Elliott is my sister, Alena Stevens and her husband, Mike’s first grandchild, as well a the first grandchild for Kayla’s parents, Lynette and Wes Smiley, so it was an exciting day. Time marches on, and as with all children, so much has changed in just one year. Elliott now has lots of curls as her hair has grown. Her little smile is sporting teeth these days, and she has learned to walk. That, of course, means that she is “exploring” her world, i.e. getting into things. Her personality is showing now, in so many ways…one of the biggest being her giggle. When she gets into things, and gets “caught” at it, she just laughs and laughs. Her parents ask her what she is doing, and her response is always the same…that infectious little giggle!! She already knows that her giggle can get her out of a sticky situation.

Elliott is a happy little girl, who loves her dog, Charlie. And the feeling in mutual, because her dog is very patient with her little baby ways. Kids aren’t always gentle with their furry friends, but Elliott’s dig doesn’t seem to mind, because Elliott is his baby too. In fact, sometimes he feels like he is in charge of the baby. It seems to be a dog thing. They love to cuddle the family babies…especially at nap time.

Elliott loves the water, and she’s not picky. The bathtub, the wading pool, or the beach. All of them are fun for Elliott. She got to go to California with her parents a few months ago, and if fact, she turned 8 months while she was there. Less than a year old, and she’s already been sunning herself on the beach. Of course, she doesn’t care if it’s a beach in California, she just liked the water and the sand. I think a lot of people would agree with her on that.

Elliott has been such a blessing to her family. She has three wonderful aunts, Michelle Stevens, Lacey Stevens, and Lexi Smiley, so she is very blessed too. Life is great for Elliott and her family, and we are all very excited to see what the next year will bring for our giggly girl. Today is Elliott’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Sean Mortensen is a very busy guy. If he is not working, he’s outdoors in one capacity or another. He and my niece, Amanda Reed have a 15 year old daughter, Jadyn who is very busy with horses, and that means the family attends lots of competitions. Sean and Amanda are very supportive of their daughter’s dreams, and they will do whatever they can to help her accomplish them. Sean loves his girls, and they love him. They are a wonderful family unit, doing lots of things together.

Sean and Amanda also have a great group of friends, and they all love to go camping, boating, skiing, snowmobiling, 4 wheeling, or any other sport you can think of. Rarely do you see a family who is so outgoing, all the time…nor one that is good at so many types of sports. They always have fun. Recently they all went camping for nine days. They went with a large group of people and everyone had a wonderful time, even Carp shooting. I wouldn’t have ever thought of fishing that way, but these guys seem quite skilled at shooting a fish with a bow and arrow. Sean’s brother, Tyler and his wife, Heather were among those who went. These two couples have a great relationship. They enjoy being together.

Sean is an active guy, who enjoys being very goofy, but then so do their friends. Everything from goofy wigs to wild outfits. He’s up for anything that will get a laugh out of his friends. Still, when it comes to work, Sean is all business. Sean has worked at Sinclair Oil Refinery for a while now, and is good at his job. There are many reasons to work carefully and observe safety regulations in a refinery, and Sean is diligent in both work and safety. After all, he has two great girls to come home to every day. Today is Sean’s birthday. Happy birthday Sean!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Those of us who live in Casper, Wyoming know about Garden Creek and Garden Creek Falls. It is a beautiful area, filled with trees and picnic tables. Hiking trails take off from the area, some of which follow the creek. Rotary Park is often full of picnickers and hikers. Everyone is out to have a great time. The Garden Creek area was a much different place in 1891, however. What we know as a day picnic area was a resort area and was lined with camps. A hotel was located at the head of Garden Creek and was a loved summer resort, frequented by local picnic parties. It was frequented by families from near and far.

On, July 31, 1891, a cloudburst occurred over Casper Mountain, right about the area of the head of Garden Creek. The creek is about seven miles long from mouth to source, and it was lined with camps. The heavy rains triggered a flash flood. The swollen creek rushed down the mountainside. The first thing the flood waters reached was the resort at the head of Garden Creek. The buildings were crushed and swept away, and the original site of the hotel was buried beneath wreckage twenty or more feet deep. The rushing floodwaters followed the creek on down the mountain, sweeping away anything in its path. Water marks indicate a volume of water 40 feet high and 495 feet wide must have passed through a narrow area about 2 miles form the mountain proper.

As the water rushed down the side of the mountain, it crashed down upon many campers up and down the creek. Many were either sleeping or just about ready to go to bed for the night. Campers, the Newby family, were sleeping when they suddenly found themselves surrounded by water. Newby heard his wife scream for help, grabbed for her, but missed, and in the next second he found himself being carried off by the rushing water. He never saw his wife or baby son alive again. Newby caught the limbs of a floating tree, He was carried about 200 yards, before he was thrown onto a bank. The body of Mrs Newby was found the next morning beneath a pile of rubble, but the Newby’s baby boy was never found. Near the Newby camp was the camp of Samuel Harrison of Alliance, Nebraska. Harrison’s two children were caught in the flood, and carried away. The bodies of the children were recovered the next morning. The tents and wagons of all the campers up and down the creek were destroyed, and at least fifty persons escaped with nothing but their pajamas. The citizens of Casper quickly stepped forward to bring food, clothing, and comfort to the survivors.

The quick response of the citizens of Casper doesn’t surprise me, because this is a city that often steps up in the face of tragedy. The flooded creek doesn’t surprise me either, because I have seen first hand just how quickly a rain storm on Casper mountain can result in a flood…even in the city proper. All that water has to go somewhere, and Sage Creek near my house is often the recipient of a large portion of that water. Thankfully it quickly drains into the Platte River, and the area returns to normal. Our mostly dry climate helps too, I suppose. The thirsty ground absorbs the water quickly. Still, it shocks me…not that Garden Creek flooded, but more, the vast difference in that area between 1891 and 2019.

It’s been said that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I don’t think my grand-niece, Jadyn Mortensen plans to be a rodeo rider or an equestrian for a living, but she definitely is good at it as a hobby, or as her sport of choice. Jadyn has loved horses since she was just a little girl, and as she grew, her talent with them really began to shine. She really loves horses, and they respond to her by doing their very best. I don’t know what her future plans are, but she could be a great veterinarian or veterinary assistant.

I’m getting ahead of myself, and for that matter her life. Right now, Jadyn’s life centers around a few things…family, school, and horses, with a new one on the horizon, I’m sure…learning to drive. These things fall in no particular order that I’m aware of…with the exception of her number one priority…family. Jadyn is friends with both of her parents…Amanda and Sean. The family does lots of things together, as well as with friends, and Jadyn is never left out. And she still gets plenty of time to practice riding for her competitions. Anyone who thinks that champion riding just comes naturally, doesn’t know anything about it. It takes hard work and diligence. You must be dedicated to becoming a champion in order to accomplish your goals. That describes Jadyn perfectly…dedicated!!

It is so hard for me to believe that little tiny Jadyn is now 15 years old. I remember when she was born. And now her childhood years are behind her, because she is a young woman, who has a keen sense of self, and just exactly what she wants out of life. Jadyn recently competed again, and did extremely well. As her mom says, she’s living proof that hard work pays off. Jadyn has several championships to her credit, and I’m sure that many more will follow, because Jadyn does work hard and her horses work hard for her. There is a mutual love that they have for each other, and when they are competing, it is like watching a symphony…everything is in sync. Jadyn is growing into a beautiful young lady, with a heart of gold, and everyone in the family is very proud of her accomplishments. Today this girl turns 15 years old. Happy birthday Jadyn!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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