When I asked his dad what was new with my grand-nephew, Zack Spethman, the first thing he said was, “He’s tall.” And that is the truth. Zack has literally shot up in height in the past couple of years. It shocks me every time I see him. I pretty much have to stand on my tip toes just to give him a hug. While Zack is the second son of my niece, Jenny Spethman and her husband, Steve, I have a feeling that he might be the tallest person in his family. It’s hard to say, because the boys still have some growing to do, but at this point, Zack is most definitely in the lead.

Zack is such a loving, sweet natured young man, and he is never afraid to show people that he loves them. Many teenagers…especially boys are worried about the hit their “image” might take, if they are seen hugging their mom, dad, or aunts and uncles in public, but Zack doesn’t care about all that. Zack’s sweet nature doesn’t make him a wimp, just the opposite in fact. Zack is great in sports, and a great protector of those he cares about. Zack knows how to shoot a gun, and after passing hunter safety a year or so ago, he is also a great hunter. Zack and his brothers, Xander and Isaac, love to do the same things their dad is doing. From guns to snowmobiles to swimming to hiking, they are all in!!

Of course, these boys aren’t too proud to play with their little sister, Aleesia, and help he with anything she needs. They treat her like a princess, and she loves each and every one of them. Zack is also a perfect gentleman at school, and his teachers all think the world of him. He is never on to get into trouble, and rather is the first one to offer assistance whenever it is needed. He makes his parents, and the rest of the family, very proud of him, and I know that he will continue to turn into a wonderful young man. Today is Zack’s 14th birthday. Happy birthday Zack!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My aunt, Doris Spencer is an amazing woman. She is 95 years young today, and still going strong. Oh, she’s had her ups and downs, but her memory is still pretty strong. When we visited her last, she knew who we were, and we had a very nice visit about the past, when everyone was still here on Earth. The visit was a bittersweet, because on our prior visit, out mom, Collene Spencer was with us. She and Aunt Doris were best friends, as well as sisters-in-law, and they hadn’t seen each other in many years. Their reunion was wonderful, and we were all sorry to have it end. The next visit was after our mom had gone to Heaven, and while Aunt Doris was glad to see us, we all missed mom a lot.

Still, we talked about the old days, and all the fun we had, as well as how much the family had grown, and the visit went very well. Our family always loved going to visit. Aunt Doris had a lovely home, and we all had a great time. We also loved having them come to our house for visits. Those years went by so fast, and the years after we all grew up went by even quicker. I wish that we hadn’t let the time go by without visiting. Sometimes, you allow yourself to think that there will be time next year, or maybe the next, and when you finally get around to it, you find yourself with much less time than you thought. Still, I was very thankful that we got my aunt and my mom back together again…especially since it was the last time for them.

Aunt Doris is 95 years old today, and it is my hope that we will be able to get up to Wisconsin to see her again in the very near future. She is very special to us and we love her very much. It is my hope that she continues to live a long life in good health. Today is Aunt Doris’ birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Doris!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My little grand-nephew, Bowen Parmely is a happy little boy who is turning 2 years old today. Bowen’s first two years have been quite eventful. He is the younger brother to two sisters, Reagan and Hattie, and so there was always someone to play with. Being the only boy in the family, might have affected the kinds of games he played, but not in any big way, because Bowen is all boy. I have no doubt that in the future, he will tease his sisters quite a bit. A guy’s gotta make up for lost time, because while he is the littlest, the girls are well able to “boss” him around. Unfortunately for Bowen, I don’t know if he will ever find himself the boss when it comes to his sisters. Nevertheless, Reagan and Hattie love their little brother very much, and they have taught him lots of things in these first two years…and I’m sure he has taught them a few things too.

Bowen and his sisters love to ride their bicycles, and Bowen is quickly learning the ropes of a strider. When I was a kid, nobody ever thought of taking the peddles off of the bicycle or tricycle, and just letting the kid sit on the seat and walk it out, but it is really a great way to put the little ones on a bicycle early on, and Bowen doesn’t like to be left out of the fun, so it’s a vital tool toward getting him into the action. Of course, there isn’t much that his sisters are doing that Bowen doesn’t do too, with the exception of school. Bowen and his sisters help out on the farm, and they get to play with the babies, as well as watching their birth. That is all part of a good farm education, and a part that city dwellers don’t get.

While Bowen’s sisters love all the little farm babies, and Bowen does too, but for him, they come second, because he has something he is far more interested in…tractors. Typical boy thing, and something that he gets from his dad, and probably a grandpa or two. Bowen comes from a long line of farm and ranch people, and from what I have seen, he is totally ok with that. Today is Bowen’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday Bowen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

These days, it’s called scooping the story. A scoop is an item of news reported by one journalist or news organization before others have a chance to report the same story, and in modern times, it is vital to be the first one to report a story if possible, because in 5 minutes, it’s old news. While scooping is a big deal in today’s world, we wouldn’t think that in times past it would as big a deal as it is today, because of the instant source of information the internet provides. Nevertheless, we would be very wrong.

William Byers was a surveyor working in Oregon and Washington. He also served as a territorial When he heard about the discovery of gold and silver near Pike’s Peak area of Colorado, he decided fulfill a dream he had, and be the publisher of a newspaper. Byers arrived in Denver in March of 1959. Denver was quickly becoming a center for the mining industry in Colorado. Byers decided that it was the perfect location to begin publishing his newspaper, but Byers wasn’t the only journalist with this idea. As was the case in many western frontier towns, would-be journalists in Denver were vying for the honor of publishing the first newspaper.

Byers’ named his paper The Rocky Mountain News, because of the rugged mountains in the area. His biggest competitor was the Cherry Creek Pioneer, and both of them were rushing to get their newspaper into print. Byers set to work on the first edition of his newspaper shortly after he arrived in Denver in March. Working with a hand press in the attic of a local saloon…not the usual type of production office for newspapers, but it was what he had, so there in that dusty attic, byers got to work.

It was a race to the finish between the two competitors, and it was really anybody’s guess as to who would win. Each kept their production room private, so the other would not know the current status. Then, on April 23, 1859, beating the first release of The Pioneer by only 20 minutes, Byers became the first man to publish a news paper in Denver. It was the perfect scoop, but the term scoop, which is of American origin, and wasn’t documented until 1874. A verb, meaning to beat someone in reporting first, it is first used in 1884. By the time the other paper came out, 20 minutes later, any news that was new was now old news. Byers had successfully beat the competition. He died in 1903, having witnessed and shaped Denver’s transformation from a rugged frontier-mining town to a sophisticated business and financial center of the Rocky Mountain West.

My aunt, Deloris Johnson, lovingly know to all of us a Aunt Dee was one of the sweetest, most loving people I know. She could also be very protective of those she cared about too, however. She was very protective of her siblings, when she needed to be, but she really liked teaching them things, or buying them things that would be fun for the whole family. Things like the piano that was in my grandparents house for as long as I can remember. Lots of the kids “played” that piano at one time or another. Of course, none of us took lessons, so when I say “played” the piano, I use the term loosely. Nevertheless, I think Aunt Dee played it pretty well.

She was always helping her younger siblings to try new things. “Flying” in the wind, using a coat for wings, was a favorite for Aunt Dee, and the other children too. My mother, Collene Spencer, younger sister of Aunt Dee told me about how much fun they had when Aunt Dee was involved in the activities. I think it was all about the great imagination Aunt Dee possessed. When one of the kids has enough imagination to create fun situations, everyone involved has a great time. That fun person was Aunt Dee. She was the one that made everyone laugh, and I know that from the time she spent with our family. It was always fun to have Aunt Dee come over to our house. Her sweet smile put a smile on everyone’s face.

When we lost Aunt Dee to brain cancer in 1996, her passing left a hole in our hearts. My mom especially felt it, because they were really close. I can’t begin to imagine how much he passing saddened my mom. I can only say how sad it made me. Today would have been Aunt Dee’s 88th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee. We love and miss you very much.

There are two major ways that God has “gifted” His children. Yes, God gives us great and wonderful gifts all the time, but the greatest gift He could give us was His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth as a baby, and went through all the same things in life that we did, but did it all without sinning. Most of us can’t imagine going through 10 minutes without having a wrong thought, action, or attitude. We can be sharp tongued, selfish, and grouchy. Jesus could do none of those things. Everything he did had to be truthful, kind, and selfless. He had to be all the things we could not be, and then he had to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, because the people of Earth were in trouble…and without Jesus, there was no way out of it.

God knew that we were lost and that there was no Earthly way out of the situation, so because He loved the world so much, He sent His Son, Jesus and Jesus willingly came to Earth, knowing what would happen to him when he was a grown man. He could have stopped it. He could have told his Father that he didn’t want to go, but he didn’t. He accepted the unspeakable job that his Father, our God set before him, and he went through with it. I’m sure he thought about how horrible this would be, and I’m sure that a part of him wanted to make the whole progression stop, but he knew that if he didn’t do it, the world would have to pay the price of spiritual death for eternity.

What an amazingly selfless act of love!! Jesus paid it all…past, present, and future. We are free!! We are redeemed!! The horrible crucifixion was a successful payment for our sins. I am redeemed…we are all redeemed, and all we have to do is accept Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. It’s as simple as that. Thank you Jesus!! Happy Resurrection Day!!

Twenty years ago today, two teenaged gunmen walked into Columbine High School and opened fire, killing 13 people. Yesterday, I watched a news broadcast about the aftermath of those killings. One of the parents, commented on the fact that since Columbine, every time a school shooting occurs, it is compared to Columbine…often stated, “It was a Columbine-like shooting.” Those words had become synonymous with Columbine High School. Like a dark cloud, the stigma of that shooting comes back every time there is another shooting. Twenty years later, the parents and families of the 13 victims of Columbine want to change that…to remove the dark cloud, because if we continue to call shootings Columbine-like…it’s like they win. The grief and pain continue. They do not want their loved ones to always be associated with sadness and defeat. I think that is an amazing idea.

One of the victims, Lauren Townsend loved animals. She volunteered at the local animal shelter, so her parents decided to remember her by setting up the Lauren Townsend Memorial Wildlife Fund. Cassie Bernall’s family started the Cassie Bernall Foundation. Their latest project is The Books for Classrooms program. Steven Curnow was a member of the Cornish American Heritage Society from an early age, and in fact he was their youngest member, so his family set up the Steven Curnow Memorial Foundation in support of the Cornish American Heritage Society. Several of the victims had planned to join the military after high school. They were made honorary veterans. Coach William “Dave” Sanders is credited with saving untold numbers of students as he ran into the cafeteria and told them to flee the building. Then he left to warn other students, sacrificing his own life for others. The softball field at Columbine has been named after him, and a scholarship program was set up in his honor. Each of the people who died that day was filled with promise. They were Rachel Scott, Daniel Rohrbough, Coach Dave Sanders, Kyle Velasquez, Steven Curnow, Cassie Bernall, Isaiah Shoels, Matthew Kechter, Lauren Townsend, John Tomlin, Kelly Fleming, Daniel Mauser, and Corey DePooter. Their families would like them to be remembered for their accomplishments and their dreams, rather than as victims. They would like the school to be remembered as a place of renewal, healing, and mostly of peace. They noted that Columbine means little doves… among other things. I rather prefer the Victorian meaning, which is resolved to win. I think that if the names of the killers are forever forgotten and never mentioned again; and if these lost ones are remembered for their winning spirit, their loving ways, and their kindness to others, then the right side wins.

Every battle fought in a war is important, but some battles carried mush more weight, either in it’s strategic importance, or in it’s loss of life. Sometimes, a battle’s importance is due to both, as is the Battle of Okinawa, which was the largest and deadliest campaign in the Pacific Theater of World War II. The atomic bombings of Japan, which ended World War II in the Pacific Theater, were a direct result of battles undertaken on many key Pacific Ocean islands between the United States and its allies, and the Japanese forces. While these battles were bloody and deadly, costing many lives, they were nevertheless, of ultimate importance to the defeat of the Japanese Empire. The Battle of Okinawa, codenamed Operation Iceberg was the deadliest of the war.

Following the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the United States officially entered World War II. The United States had a score to settle, but at the onset things did not go well for the US. The Japanese kept expanding and conquering in the Pacific and seemed unstoppable. The United States and its allies rallied and were able to start gaining ground at the Battle of Midway in 1942, but it was the Battle of Okinawa that really changed things.

Military leadership realized that, because the Japanese controlled a vast area of the Pacific, taking over the many islands dotting the Pacific would be crucial to victory. They needed bases from which to launch the various operations against Japan, and these islands were perfect for it. American soldiers, sailors, and marines fought over the next three years, on little islands in places many Americans had never heard of…places like Tarawa, Midway, Saipan, Luzon, and Cape Gloucester. Each battle, brought with it significant bloodshed. The Japanese fought ruthlessly to the end in all cases, refusing to surrender even in the face of obvious defeat. They would rather die than give up, and many did. It was the samurai code of Bushido, in which Japanese soldiers fought to the death because they believed in death before defeat. Slowly, the Allies began to push the Japanese off occupied islands and Japan started to run out of ships, planes, and soldiers as the war continued.

As 1944 turned into 1945, the Japanese were pushed back onto what they considered their “home” territory on the Ryukyu Islands, one of which was Okinawa. This island was crucial to the American war strategy, because from there, they could successfully launch bombing raids on the Japanese homeland. On March 24, 1945 the US Navy launched artillery bombings and air raids on the island to weaken the forces located there. Eight days later, hundreds of thousands of soldiers landed on Okinawa’s beaches in what was called Operation Iceberg. Their mission was to capturing or destroy the island’s air bases. The original landing had 287,000 US troops versus 130,000 Japanese soldiers.

The fighting continued for two and a half months. The American soldiers fought in four critical areas of the island with specific strategies…take the eastern coast of the island, followed by the northern part, then take the outlying islands surrounding Okinawa, and finally defeat the embedded Japanese troops. It all sounded pretty straightforward, but this battle was different. In this battle, the Japanese didn’t engage their enemies right on the beach, like they had in other battles. At Okinawa, they fell back into the jungles of the island to gain what little advantage they could as a defensive force. The Japanese used caves, pillboxes…fortified positions, and the jungle to their advantage. They also resumed a deadly tactic on the seas…kamikaze attacks. Brave pilots loaded their planes with high explosives and crashed into ships, destroying several, including their attached aircraft. Nevertheless, eventually the Allies won and Okinawa still houses an American base to this day.

They say that money can buy you just about anything…if you have enough of it. I suppose that in the area of material things, that might be true. Nevertheless, sometimes I wonder about the purchases made when people have money. Some purchases might be an interesting novelty, and might even have a purpose in the end, but they just seem like a rather extravagant, and yes, eccentric purchase. Nevertheless, for a price, some of the strangest purchases have been made.

I don’t know if Robert P. McCulloch was an eccentric millionaire, or if he just liked what he liked, but on April 18, 1968, he made a deal to buy the London Bridge, for 1 million dollars. He then had it disassembled from it’s former location spanning the River Thames in London, England, and reassembled in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. As the bridge was disassembled, each piece was numbered to aid in the re-assembly project. Then it was transported to Arizona to be re-assembled over the Colorado River, connecting an island there to the main part of Lake Havasu City. The bridge was originally built in the 1830s. The move was quite the undertaking.

Apparently, McCulloch was searching for a unique attraction for his city. His search eventually took him to London. By the early 1960s it was apparent that John Rennie’s 1831 “New” London Bridge was gradually sinking into the River Thames and the City of London Corporation decided that a new bridge was needed. Still, the bridge was a historic landmark, so rather than demolish the existing bridge, they decided to auction the historic landmark. I guess McCulloch wasn’t the only one with strange ideas. The Arizona bridge is a reinforced concrete structure that is covered in the original masonry of the 1830s bridge. To accomplish an exact duplicate, McCulloch had the exterior granite blocks from the original bridge numbered and transported to America to construct the present bridge in Lake Havasu City, to adorn a planned community he established in 1964 on the shore of Lake Havasu. The bridge was completed in 1971, complete with a canal, and it links an island in the Colorado River with the main part of Lake Havasu City.

Probably the most amazing thing about this is that Lake Havasu City can actually claim that they have the London Bridge there. Many people have made jokes about the intelligence of buyers, saying that if you’ll buy that, they have some ocean front property or even a bridge to sell you in Arizona. Well, I wouldn’t go for the ocean front property, which as we all know, doesn’t exist in Arizona, but the bridge is somewhat believable, although I doubt if this bridge is for sale, and if it was, I don’t know many people who could afford it. Nevertheless, it is a very unique landmark, and a very strange purchase, indeed.

Sometimes, you meet the love of your life the second time around. That’s how it was for my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely when she met her other half, Brian Cratty. These two are so much alike that they practically finish each other’s sentences. They have the same goals and they are going in the same direction with their lives. They have been a blessing in each other’s lives, and it is a sweet thing to watch.

Brian is rather a quiet guy, with a kind and loving spirit. I think he is most at home seated on his bicycle, weaving back an forth over the mountain trails. Brian and Jennifer have a friend who owned a cabin on Casper Mountain, and then moved away. While he was gone, he asked them to keep an eye on his cabin, and in exchange, they could use it whenever they wanted. They jumped at the chance, and when their friend decided to sell the cabin, he offered it to them, and they were delighted to buy it. Anyone who has owned a cabin on the mountains, know that there is always this or that improvement to do, and so Brian and Jennifer have been doing lots of updates to it so that they and their family can enjoy the beautiful scenery of Casper Mountain. Since they bought the cabin, it is their home away from home…when they aren’t traveling, that is. Brian and Jennifer love to travel to areas of the United States where they can find new trails to hike and bike…as well as seeing the local sights.

Brian is a licensed pilot, but I don’t know how much flying he does these days. I’m sure it is enough to keep his license in place. He was a pilot for the Wyoming Medical Center until his retirement from there, but as any pilot would say, flying is in your blood, and you fly every chance you get. He has done corporate flying, but I think he just likes being retired for the most part. Today is Brian’s birthday. Happy birthday Brian!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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