boss

My nephew, Isaac Spethman is a very athletic kid. One of his favorite things to do is climb. I suppose you could call him the Houdini of climbing. Houdini was an illusionist, but he was also a stunt performer. I don’t know if Isaac likes illusionist tricks, but he definitely likes stunts. He also love to go with his mom when they are “adventuring.” He loves to forge. I think this kid might be half mountain man. Isaac doesn’t just look around for trinkets he can sell, he melts down pop cans and makes shapes out of them. He has also made knives out of spikes and rebar. I’m sure that one of his favorite shows is probably “Forged In Fire,” which is all about knife making. I have to admit that I like it too. The process is very interesting.

Isaac is a hunter now that he has passed his hunter safety class. He and his siblings have grown up around guns, and their parents have taught them, not only safety, but the value of life human or otherwise. They would never kill anything just to kill. They have too much respect for life to ever consider that to be ok. Isaac’s love of hunting and guns has made knives interesting to him as well, hence the love of forge a knife. Isaac enjoys other sports too, like wrestling and football. He is very good at both. He is not a husky kid, but rather is wiry, and that makes him a good wrestler. He is also a capable runner, which makes him a good football player, but most importantly, he is full of energy. He doesn’t like to just sit around. In fact, slow down…is not a phrase in his vocabulary.

Isaac is the youngest of his sister, Aleesia’s three older brothers. That makes him a couple of things. Being the youngest of the three brothers, he has had to learn to defend himself. His brothers, Xander and Zack are good boys who love their brothers and sister, but there is still that “I’m the boss of you” aspect of their relationship. That makes him both tough, and sometimes, put upon. Being the youngest of the boys, the only one he can be the “boss of” is his little sister, Aleesia. With that, it naturally follows that he is the most ornery to Aleesia, but make no mistake about it, he also watches her like a hawk. I’m sure that Aleesia has mixed feeling about all that, depending on what she needs him to be at the time. A brother who won’t let you out of his sight can be annoying, until someone decides to pick on you or you get in a jam. Then that brother is a very good thing to have around…as Aleesia well knows. Today is Isaac’s 14th birthday. I can’t believe he is 14. It seems like just yesterday that he was the baby. Happy birthday Isaac!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Adelaide Sawdon is a cute little three year old girl who is…sassy!! I don’t mean to say that she is obnoxious, because that would be totally wrong. She just has a sassy personality. She is confident in her self, and in her place in her family. Maybe she is a little overconfident in her place in the family. You see, Adelaide thinks she is the boss of her family. She gets that attitude from her mom, Jessi Sawdon, who was sassy in her own right as a little girl. Jessi was the oldest child, and like her daughter, Adelaide, she was sure that she was not only the boss, but the mom!! She knew that she was the boss of her mom, even when she got in trouble for it. Adelaide is her mom’s mini-me on that. That’s our Addie!!

Adelaide is a very smart little girl. She knows her numbers, and she knows how many three is. She also knows that she was two until today, and that while she may have been one…once, one has nothing to do with her age now, not even in counting up to three. One is over, so figure it out!! Adelaide said that she wants to be five, so she can go to school, but I think her parents, Jessi and her husband, Jason, would rather wait just a little bit before she heads to school. For now, they want her to stay their baby girl for just a while longer.

Adelaide is very excited for her birthday party today, because her parents are taking her to the Planetarium. She is learning all about that word, and what it means. She knows that she is going to see the planets at the “Pantarium.” Listening to the cute little ways she says words is so fun. Her Aunt Kellie, whom Adelaide called “Kayee” for the longest time has been one of the ones whose name came out funny, but now, Adelaide has learned to say Kellie. Her aunt was so excited, and so she clapped her hands and cheered. Addie liked that, so now she says Kellie a lot, followed by the face of anticipation…waiting for the cheers and clapping. Awww, the joys of life as a three year old. Today is Adelaide’s 3rd birthday. Happy birthday Adelaide!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When people are having a bad day, or the worst possible day, people often don’t know what to do to help. And sometimes there is seemingly nothing that can be done to really help, but as most of us know, whether we realize it or not, there is always one thing that can help…a hug. Of course, there is a right time and a wrong time to give a hug, but once the emergency part of a situation is over, we are often left with overwhelming emotions, and they are often held in because we are trying not to do the one thing that we really need to do…cry.

Over the years during which I was a caregiver, and now with what I went through during my husband’s heart attack, I have had a number of situations where the ambulance had to be called. In the whirlwind that followed, I had to keep my composure and tell the medical personnel what happened, and any other pertinent information they needed. I could not let myself break down. I couldn’t cry…or scream, which is what I really wanted to do. I had to hold it together, because my parents, in-laws, and then my husband, needed me to hold it together. I was their voice. Then, as suddenly as the ambulance had arrived, they loaded up their patient, and headed out. I found myself standing there alone, feeling very small and very scared. Then, a firefighter, who had also been dispatched, men who thankfully knew me because my husband had been their mechanic, came up to me and hugged me and encouraged me. Yes, the tears flowed then. There was no longer a need, nor any possible way to hold them back. Those firefighters can’t possibly comprehend what that hug meant to the person who received it. Hugs allow the emotions to release. It is the much needed human contact, when I felt entirely alone.

I am blessed to have many good people in my life. People who understand how badly a hug is needed. People who understand the power of a hug. My boss, Jim Stengel and his wife, Julie; my co-worker, Carrie Beauchamp; my siblings and in-laws; a friend and client, Donna LePage; and then, unexpectedly, my boss’s sons, Anthony and Michael Stengel, all sensed that I could really use a hug, and the power of those hugs has continued to help me. Each hug meant more than the giver can ever imagine. Each hug was given when the giver didn’t know what else to do, and yet each did exactly the right thing!! They instinctively knew that hugs are always healing. That is just the power of a hug.

The longer we are married, the more blessed I feel with my soulmate. And…I’m not the only one that is blessed by my husband. Bob is a mechanic…through and through. For years before he had his own garage, we went to his parents house so he could work on cars there. When we bought our current house, it didn’t have a garage either, but it had enough room in back to build one, so we did. It was strange for him to simply have to go out in the back yard to get to the garage where he was working on someone’s car, but it made him very happy. In fact, I can’t think of a “gift” Bob has enjoyed more, or gotten more use out of than his garage. Most people would not even consider the garage to be a gift, but for Bob, it really was. No longer would he have to stand out in the wind and cold to work on a car, or make a trip to his parents’ house to work on a car. He had a place of his own to do that.

Bob has been working on the cars of his friends and family for as ling as I’ve known him. People often ask him, or me, if he ever gets tired of it. The answer is always quick, “No, he likes it. It makes him happy.” Most people want to come home after a long day at work and just relax, but not Bob. There’s lots of time to relax after it get dark. I suppose that Bob is of the “make hay while the sun shines” generation. After a long day at work, Bob would often put in another couple of hours out in the garage. Finally, he found that he had too much to do to waste time going to work anymore. That was a couple of years ago, and he hasn’t changed his mind about that one bit. He likes working for himself much better!!

After his retirement, I think lots of people thought Bob was just going to park in front of the television set and fade away. They were wrong. Bob’s work continued..it just changed locations…and bosses. No he simply walks out the back door to go to “work,” if that’s what you choose to call it. As to his boss, I’ve tried to tell him that I’m his boss now, but he doesn’t believe me. In fact, he seems to think that he is his boss, and I supposed he is right, but I don’t think I’ll ever admit to that. It doesn’t matter anyway, since he is doing what makes him happy…no matter who is bossing him. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! Have a great day!! I’ll love you forever and ever.

There really is no better day in a family, than when a new baby arrives. Yesterday was just such a day for my nephew, Eric Parmely, his wife Ashley, and their daughters, Reagan and Hattie. Yesterday was the day that someone new arrived. His name is Bowen Lewis Parmely, and he made his appearance three weeks early, because his doctors felt that it would be best for him. He was a big baby boy, weighing in at 8 pounds 7.5 ounces, and he was 21¼ inches long…and everything with mommy and baby Bowen is perfect…including his appetite. Bowen is the first son for his parents, and the first grandson for his grandparents, and everyone is just as happy as they can be. He is also the first, and maybe only brother for his two big sisters, who cant wait until he can play.

As for Bowen…well, his first day was a very busy one. He was born at 8:56pm on April 24th…just when a guy should be sleeping, and they were shining bright lights in his face. Nevertheless, Bowen took it all in stride. He was handed off, first to his parents, and then to the grandparents. I’m sure he wondered how a guy could go about getting a bath around that place, but he waited patiently, and pretty soon they got him cleaned up and dressed so that he could meet his sisters…the most important people in his immediate life…after his parents that is. After all, it will be his sisters who play with him, teach him the ropes…on how to get around Mom and Dad, babysit him, and in probably, boss him around a lot. But, in all reality, while his sisters said that they wanted another sister, all that changed when they saw their brother. All thought a of a sister went out the door. Who could blame them? Little Bowen is a perfectly handsome little man, and the girls developed instant Brother Love!!

Bowen’s grandparents, like his parents, aunts, uncles, and the rest of the family, are all floating on air, now that he has arrived. Sometimes, I wonder how nine months can seem so long. When we first found out that baby Bowen was coming, and especially when we found out that he was a boy, we were all very excited. Now that he is here, the excitement is just growing. As for little Bowen, I think he figures that the future can wait for a while, because all these visitors have completely worn him out. Congratulations to Eric and Ashley Parmely. Your son is so cute. Love you guys.

Whether you like the bi-annual time change that most states use or not, it is a fact of life for most of the citizens of the United States. Most of us have no problem with the “Fall back” part of the change, because with it comes an extra hour of sleep, and in the winter months, who can’t use that. The “Spring forward” part of the time change…well, that is a different thing. Losing that hour of sleep is just not so easy to swallow. Enter Napping Day.

In days gone by, an afternoon nap was not just a common thing, it was part of the job description. In fact, the siesta is still a time-honored tradition in Spain. It happens right after lunch and can be traced back to the first years of people having jobs. In fact, if you’re in the Mediterranean, it’s pretty much standard everywhere you go. In Italy they call it the riposo, pisolini, and even old Charlamagne, who was a medieval emperor who ruled much of Western Europe from 768 to 814, has been recorded as having taken 2-3 hour naps in the middle of the afternoon. I want to know where that tradition has gone in our time. I can’t tell you how many times I would have loved to grab a little twenty minute nap in the afternoon.

Fast forward to our time. Daylight savings time rolls around, and you are forced to get up an hour earlier. Most of us couldn’t fall asleep any earlier, and after all, the time change happens at about 2:00am, so why would we go to bed an hour early. The next morning is Sunday, and hopefully you were able to get acclimated to the new time, but more likely than not, you didn’t. So on Monday you are back at it…hard at work, and suddenly you hit a wall. You’ve been a trooper all day. You bravely made it through the morning’s activities…and it wasn’t too bad. Then lunch hits, and that food just makes you sleepy. What do you do? You take a nap! Napping Day encourages you to remember these benefits of youth and take a little time out of the day for you! The idea is to take that little nap, because it really is napping day. I have to wonder just how many bosses would be ok with such an idea. Not too many, I would guess.

As Barbara Jordan, a Texas representative, would say, “Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.” I hadn’t heard of her before, but I like her style. Happy Napping Day everyone!!

knocker-upperFor those of us who have to set an alarm to get up for work, or whatever else one might need an alarm for, the alarm clock truly is not our friend. Whether you had a good night’s sleep or not, really doesn’t matter either. You also know that if the power goes off, or you just don’t happen to hear that alarm, because you are a heavy sleeper…well, you’re going to be late, and your boss is not going to be happy. That alarm going off is always annoying. Nevertheless, we have somewhere we need to be, so that incessant, obnoxious, blaring alarm is a necessity.

So, what did people do before alarm clocks? They still had to be to work on time, but if they were a person who did not wake up at the crack of dawn, or to the rooster crowing, what then? Now imagine that your only alarm clock is the sun. If your room is dark, you could have a big problem. Well, there was a fix for that. During the early days of the Industrial Revolution and lasting into the beginnings of the 20th Century, as late as the 1920’s, workers had to get to work on time, and there were no alarm clocks. That’s where the “Knocker-Up” or “Knocker-Upper” came in. Don’t laugh, it was a real occupation in England and Ireland in the days before alarm clocks were affordable or reliable. A Knocker-up’s whole job was to go to the homes of the workers, and wake them up by shooting a pebble through a long tube, usually made of bamboo, and hitting the window pane to wake them up. Some used a long stick, and I can see that it might be helpful if the client was a particularly heavy sleeper. A few whacks on the window sill would wake most people up. The knocker-upper was required to stay outside the house and continue this action until the worker came to the window to show that they were up and would not go back to sleep. In return for their services, the knocker-up’s clients paid them a few pence a week. Not a high paying job for sure. The knocker-ups were usually elderly men and women, or sometimes even the police, because it was a way to supplement their income, as they could do it on their morning patrols. knocker-up

As alarm clocks became readily available, the knocker-ups were no longer needed. Nevertheless, like many other occupations of old, that no longer exist, these have their origins deeply rooted in history when people worked many varying trades and had to improvise to accomplish their tasks. Some of these professions are not what historians or genealogists consider to be mainstream work, but they are a rather interesting thing to look back on. I think it would be odd to have such a strange occupation, but I can see that it was necessary, and it wouldn’t require much time out of your day. Still, one question remains for me. Who was supposed to wake up the knocker-up? They would obviously have to be awake before the others needed to be, and if they were like me, getting me up early is not in anyone’s best interest…just ask my husband, if he should wake me up before the alarm goes off. While this may have been an honorable occupation in those days, I think it would not have been the occupation for me.

Bob at about 16Few birthdays mark such a big change in one’s life as this one will for my husband, Bob Schulenberg. Bob had planned to retire in January of 2017, but with the offer of a severance package through the City of Casper, where he has worked since May of 1989, due to the economic downturn, Bob retired on July 1st. It was like icing on the cake, and we couldn’t turn it down. That means that since he was 17 years old, this is the first birthday Bob will spend without a job. That is such a foreign thought to him…and to me. Bob is a hard working man, who has a lot of trouble sitting still…probably for working so hard for so many years, so I doubt he will do much of that. Besides, there are people who have been waiting for him to retire, so he can work on their cars. Hmmm, does that sound like much will change with him? I don’t really think so. In fact, I think that the only thing that will be likely to change, is the stress of an 8:00 to 4:30 job…with a boss. I think that the “B” word is one word Bob is totally ready to imageremove from his vocabulary…and I’m ready for him to be able to remove that word too. One of the things we are looking forward to is more free time to walk and hike, because we both like that. Of course, since I am still working, most of that will be around Casper for now.

Bob has a few other plans in mind to occupy his time, like finally getting his garage organized and putting in a storage shed to house the things that really won’t fit in the garage now that it will be a shop, and not just a place to park the cars most of the time. That’s all fine with me, as long as he leaves me an open stall to park my car in, because after all, my car lives there and the cars he is working on don’t. I can see him hanging out at the parts house, talking to the guys, because most of the time he doesn’t have much time for visiting when he goes in there. And of course, there will be the morning breakfasts with the other retirees…you know, that exclusive club that can go have breakfast at 9:00 if they want to, because after all, they don’t have to got to Bobwork. I guess you can see why I am going to have to keep him walking and hiking…yes, it’s so he doesn’t get fat from all that sitting around.

Oh, I tease Bob about sitting around doing nothing, but that simply isn’t Bob’s style. He will probably watch a little more television, but my guess is that it won’t be very much or very often. He has better things to do than to sit around wasting away. For Bob, retirement means the freedom to get out and do things, without having to stop and go to work, and I am very happy for him. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Honey!! Have a great day!! We love you, and we are all very happy for you!!

Allen and AndreaAndrea & TopherI remember my niece, Andrea Beach as a little girl, trying so hard to be the good big sister to her little brother, Allen. She always had a way of being motherly to Allen. Sometimes, the oldest child has a tendency to feel like they need to be the protector of the younger children. That seems to be the case in situations where both parents work, I think. It’s like having the older child babysit. It puts them in charge, and so whenever their parents are gone, they feel like they have to be in charge of the younger children. When I think about it, maybe that is just instinctual, because Andrea was protective of her brother before she was ever old enough to babysit him.

Now, Allen might have a little bit different story to tell, and we can see what he has to say about it, because I think it’s entirely possible that he viewed her protectiveness as bossiness, and he wouldn’t be the first little brother to do so either. Most of the younger siblings have a tendency to say something like, “You’re not the boss of me!!” In that matter, Allen was no different than any of those other younger child. Like most kids, he didn’t like to have anyone bossing him around, least of all, his big sister. Nevertheless, most of the time, the two of them got along pretty well. That could have been due to the fact that they lived far away from the rest of the family, so for some time, their main friend was their sibling…unlike the family that all lived here and ws raised around cousins. Of course, these days, Andrea is the boss…to her son Topher anyway. But then again, they are really best friends too.

Living so far away was really a sourse of sadness for Andrea, who often wished that she lived closer so that she could have known the cousins better, but since her dad, Warren Beach was in the Navy, that was not to be. They did come Andrea pretending to be GrandpaGoing to workto have extended visits with us here, when Warren was out to sea, and then Andrea delighted in getting to know everyone, and spending time with her grandparents. She especially loved pretending to be her grandpa, my dad, Allen Spencer. He had a hard hat that he wore to work, and she decided that if Grandpa wore it…well, it must be cool, so she wore it too. I think it was her way of feeling closer to her grandpa. She sometimes had to improvize to make her own memories for later. Today is Andrea’s birthday. Happy birthday Andrea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Jim StengelNot everyone can say that they truly have the best job on Earth. I know that lots of people think they do, but I can name so many ways that they, if they thought about it from my perspective, would have to admit that they just don’t. For most people, going to work means getting there on time, doing your job, and going home at quitting time. Loving your job sometimes falls into this mix, and sometimes it just doesn’t, for the sad truth is that millions of people really hate their job. They know that they could find a better one, but they just don’t know where to start, or they don’t have the training, or the job market is just so poor that they don’t dare try to look somewhere else right now.

For the last 19 years I can honestly say that I have been extremely blessed to have the job I do, with the boss I have. It’s easy for me to use the term boss, because in reality Jim Stengel is nothing like a boss…in fact, he is the epitome of the un-boss. He doesn’t even like the word boss…choosing rather to call his employees, associates, and glaring at the person who forgets and calls him boss. It’s his way of reminding us that he doesn’t like the “B” word. Jim tells us about his dad’s way of looking at it. Jim Stengel Sr was the owner of Dakota Granite, and it was his belief that if you hire the best people for the job, and let them do their job without micro managing them, they will do their very best for you, and be happy in the process. I think he was on to something there.

One of the best reasons that I have to say that Jim is the greatest person to work for, is that he knows how to keep the priorities straight. Over my ten years as a caregiver, I have had to put that theory to the test. Lots of bosses tell you that family comes first, but if you need time off to go take care of someone in the family, they aren’t so happy to accommodate that time off. Apparently, it’s ok make family your top priority, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your job. Not so with Jim. During the times when my caregiving duties required me to miss quite a bit of work, he didn’t complain, and that made me want to work even harder for him when I was there. Both my family and Bob’s family are fully aware of the huge debt of gratitude we all owe Jim, and for that reason they have virtually adopted him as a son in the family. Not only that, but they keep him in their prayers. We can never repay that debt, and if you ask Jim, he would tell you that we don’t owe him a thing…Jim & Juliebut that’s just him being kind, because we really do. Had he not given me the time off I needed, even at a moments notice, to take care of a parent or sister-in-law who needed my help, I don’t know what we would have done.

Jim will try to blow this off as being what any boss would do, but we all know that isn’t so. Most bosses expect you to put in your full hours, and find someone else to take care of things when you are working. That is no easy task, as any caregiver will tell you. Jim is a one of a kind…the un-boss, and we who have the privilege of working for him understand just how very blessed we are by him. Today is Jim’s birthday. Happy birthday Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you and are proud to call you…friend!!

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