country

My aunt, Bonnie McDaniels often reminds me of my mom, Collene Spencer, who is her older sister. I don’t think it was as noticeable when they were younger girls, but later it became very obvious to me, and to many other people in the family. Aunt Bonnie and her siblings have long been close, but these days, their numbers are getting smaller, as more and more of them go home to Heaven. Aunt Bonnie’s husband, Uncle Jack among them. That has been hard on all of us, but especially Aunt Bonnie, who lost the love of her life when he went home. Still, her family is very close, and they are making sure that she has what she needs, and the she is not lonely.

Aunt Bonnie has always been a very hands on mom, grandma, and great grandma, and that has not stopped. Just the other day, my husband, Bob and I ran into Aunt Bonnie with her grandson, Peter, and his daughter at the mall. The smile on Aunt Bonnie’s told me that she was, as always, very excited and happy to be included in her grandchildren’s family. I’m not sure where they were headed in the mall, but due to her great granddaughter’s influence, I’m sure they were planning on some fun activities.

Aunt Bonnie and I have that “hands-on” grandparenting style in common. We wanted nothing more than to spend lots of time with our grandchildren. It is our opinion that kids need their grandparents as much as grandparents need their grandkids, and I know that many grandparents share that view. Aunt Bonnie has the added fun item for kids, of living out in the country. Her place is beautiful, and all of the family members who have been there, would agree. It’s like going out to a park along the river. Summertime at her house is beautiful. I’m so happy that she has such a beautiful sanctuary. I’m sure it is a very relaxing place to be. Today is Aunt Bonnie’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Bonnie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Eric Parmely is a busy man. He is husband to his wife, Ashley, and daddy to his three kids, Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen. A while back, Eric and Ashley bought a piece of land west of town, and while they have always been farmers and always had their animals, now have more room to grow their farm and add the animals they want. The kids love having all the space they have at their new place, and they love taking care of their animals. Eric and Ashley stay busy keeping the farm running, and taking the kids to their various activities. If you ask them, they will tell you they are simply living the dream. They really never have wanted anything else but the dream life in the country, surrounded by their kids and a boatload of animals. Now, I’ll grant you that living in the country is peaceful, but having lived there myself, I can’t say that I miss the muddy dirt roads and the long drives to town. It’s just that extra inconvenience that I don’t like much, and I think maybe their dogs agree…at least where the mud is concerned. Odd really, when you consider that most dogs couldn’t care less about mud. Nevertheless, these dogs seem to have a bit of an aversion to it…which strikes me as rather funny.

Eric and Ashley especially love the peaceful days in the country, because lets face it, if you don’t have to go to town, it is really peaceful. They get to enjoy the wildlife, such as sage grouse, deer, and antelope, and they thoroughly enjoy the many visitors to their farm. Lots of birds hang out there, and the lack of traffic noise is nice too. For me, the winter would be the worst, but then I don’t like winter anywhere, so I guess it doesn’t matter. On the farm, and this is one of the things they like most about farm life…you have to go outside everyday, and actually be outside. you can’t take care of the animals from the house. The family has learned to love all kinds of weather, including snow. Eric and Ashley actually have to bribe their kids to come into the house at night. Absolutely amazing!!

Eric, like all of the men in the Schulenberg family, loves to work on cars. If mechanics can possibly be in the blood, that is where it is in these guys. In fact, one might wonder if they don’t have oil in their veins, instead of blood. You never have to wonder where they are, because if they aren’t working on a vehicle, they are at the parts house getting parts for a vehicle. Of course, the great thing about having a mechanic in the family is the lack of vehicle maintenance expense. Mechanic work can get really expensive, and if you have a mechanic in your life, you don’t have to pay someone else to do the work. A great savings for sure, and that is a great blessing…as the women in the Schulenberg family will tell you. Today is Eric’s birthday. Happy birthday Eric!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg, was all about family. She spent her married life as a stay-at-home mom, but that did not mean that she didn’t work. Taking care of six children is simply no picnic. Between cooking meals for everyone, cleaning, canning food, sewing clothes, and knitting things for them, she was a pretty busy lady. My mother-in-law was always the most comfortable raising her children in the country. She felt like it was too much out of her control in town. She worried about the traffic, and the people around, and about the kids running off while playing. She just needed the control of the country to give her peace of mind.

So the family lived in the country for most of the years that the kids were growing up. It wasn’t until 1989 that the family, now of just three at home, moved into Casper to stay. It’s funny that Joann, who had always hated the traffic, the noise, and the activity of city life, suddenly loved to watch the cars go by on the busy street on which they lived. She liked not having to go so far into town for groceries and such. She liked having visitors come by, because suddenly it wasn’t too far for them to go. Like me, she discovered the convenience of city life. Those long drives into town were the first thing I found my self happy to do without. I’m sure my mother-in-law did too…especially on the icy winter roads around here.

By 1996, my mother-in-law became a great grandmother for the first two times. She got a great birthday present in her first great grandchild, Christopher Petersen, who made his grand entrance on her 65th birthday. It was a treat that she had wanted since her mother was also privileged to receive, and never thought she would get. Then the very next day, she god something else she never thought she would get…a Leap Day Great Grandbaby…Shai Royce. Needless to say we were quite busy those two days. She has gone on to have 11 grandchildren, 13 great grandchildren, and 1 great great granddaughter. Her family has sure grown, and while she has never met her great great granddaughter, I know she would love her as much as we all do. She found out about her just days before her passing, and she was very excited about it. I was glad she got to know, because family was always very important to her. Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 88th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Mom. We love and miss you very much.

The first time I met my grandniece, Katy Collett, she was a little girl. She was a sweet little girl, who was well behaved, and we all liked her very much. Through the years, Katy has grown into a beautiful young woman, inside and out. Katy is “mom” to two dogs, Bubba and Sheiba, and loves them very much. She and her husband Jake live in the country outside of Casper, Wyoming, so that her babies have plenty of room to run around. Being big dogs causes them to require lots of space. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Katy and Jake love the outdoors, hiking, 4-wheeling, and such.

While Katy loves her dogs, her heart is full of being an aunt, first to Jake’s nephew, and then to her bother, Keifer and his wife, Katie’s daughter, Reece. Katy is a wonderful aunt, doting on the kids as often as she can, and I’m sure they totally love her too. It’s all a part of her caring nature and love of kids. Kids can tell when adults really like being around them, and they warm up to them right away. Of course, I think that Katy will spend a lot of her time wrapped around a certain little girl’s little pinky, because that is what those babies do. They wiggle their way into your heart, and you are lost forever.

Katy and Jake, like most of us, love to travel and they have taken at least one trip to Florida, where his family
lives, for a visit. Hitting the Florida coast in mid April is really the perfect time. You can get away from the cold spring weather that still persists in Wyoming at that time of year. Being outdoor people, they prefer the weather in the spring and summer so that it’s more comfortable to get out and do things, and enjoy nature in the warm weather.

Katy is so sweet and loving to all the people around her, and it has endeared her to all of us. I don’t get to see her as often as I would like, but when we do see each other, it is always a pleasure. Her beautiful smile lights up a room. Today is Katy’s birthday. Katy, I hope your day is as awesome as you are. Happy birthday Katy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg is a sweet girl, who is a great mom. Her children may have had some difficult times in their lives, but they can always count on their mom to be their biggest supporter. I don’t think any child lives their whole life without some difficulties, some bigger than others, but all difficult. Without the support and encouragement of their parents, some of those times can destroy the life of the child. Rachel has spent at least part of their lives being a single mom, at least until she met my brother-in-law, Ron. Now they work together to be a support system for their kids. I won’t go into all the ways Rachel has been a support system for her kids, because anyone who knows her is aware of all that has transpired.

For Rachel, her three children are her treasures, as are her two grandchildren. She loves being a mom and grandma. And of course, she loves being married to Ron. They are very compatible, and I believe that each of them is just what the other had been looking for all their lives. They have like interests and goals and they are both heading in the same direction. And they both have a great sense of humor. They love to goof off. Ron was never truly happy until he met Rachel. It was a match made in Heaven and one that will last a lifetime.

One of the favorite things for Rachel and Rob to do is to go camping. They would probably stay in the mountains forever, if they could. It’s just not something most of us can manage, and so we go to work. Ron and Rachel have a place north of Casper with about 5 acres. Living on 5 acres in the country is nice most of the time, but not so much when the weather causes the roads tend to turn into a mud pit. Nevertheless, it’s home an they have built a happy life there. Rachel loves the home she and Ron have there. She and her son, Tucker love to make specials welcome home things for Ron…or at least Rachel helps Tucker make special welcome home surprises for Ron. They both love Ron so much and they love the life they have built. Today is Rachel’s birthday. Happy birthday Rachel!! Have a great day!! We love you!

These days, patriotism seems to be constantly under fire. The nation has basically taken sides on the issue. There are those who hate this country and all it stands for, and those who love this country despite its faults and any negative historical events. I am a patriot, and it is my belief that history is history, mistakes and all. It can’t be changed by tearing down a few statues, and certainly not by stomping on our flag. The patriots of this time feel the same as the patriots of the Vietnam era…”Our Flag, Love it or Leave.” I find it strange to think that this era is really no different than that era, or any other era of American history, or in fact, in the history of any nation. There are those who love their nation and are loyal to it, and those who tend to blow with the wind…only showing faithfulness when it suits their own agenda. In my opinion and the opinion of every patriot, these people who turn on our country just because things aren’t going their way, are traitors, and should be treated as such.

There have been a number of traitors in our nations history, and I’m sure there will be many more, but one of the most famous of them all was Benedict Arnold. On this day in 1780, during the American Revolution, an American General named Benedict Arnold met with a British Major named John Andre to discuss the treasonous act of handing over West Point to the British. In return Arnold was promised of a large sum of money and a high position in the British army. The plot was foiled and Arnold, who was once considered an American hero, became synonymous with the word “traitor.” Benedict Arnold was not always a low life traitor. He was actually born into a well-respected family in Norwich, Connecticut, on January 14, 1741. He apprenticed with an apothecary and was a member of the militia during the French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763. Later, he became a successful trader and then joined the Continental Army when the Revolutionary War broke out between Great Britain and its 13 American colonies in 1775. When the war ended in 1783, the colonies had won their independence from Britain and formed a new nation…the United States.

During the war, Benedict Arnold proved himself a brave and skillful leader, helping Ethan Allen’s troops capture Fort Ticonderoga in 1775 and then participating in the unsuccessful attack on British Quebec later that year, which earned him a promotion to brigadier general. Arnold distinguished himself in campaigns at Lake Champlain, Ridgefield and Saratoga, and gained the support of George Washington. However, Arnold also had some enemies within the military and in 1777, five men of lesser rank were promoted over him. I see that there were those who were not fooled by his presumed loyalty. Over the course of the next few years, Arnold married for a second time. He and his new wife lived a lavish lifestyle in Philadelphia, accumulating a large amount of debt. The debt and the resentment Arnold felt over not being promoted faster were the motivating factors in his decision to become a turncoat.

In 1780, Arnold was given command of West Point, an American fort on the Hudson River in New York, and future home of the United States military academy, which was established in 1802. Arnold contacted Sir Henry Clinton, head of the British forces, and proposed handing over West Point and his men. On September 21, 1780, Arnold met with Major John Andre and made his traitorous pact. Thankfully, the conspiracy was uncovered and Andre was captured and executed. Arnold, the former American patriot turned traitor, fled to the enemy side and went on to lead British troops in Virginia and Connecticut. He later moved to England, though he never received all of what he’d been promised by the British. He died in London on June 14, 1801, having never realized the greatness he thought he would achieve. Now, when people think of a traitor, they often call them a Benedict Arnold. It is a huge insult to be called that.

My aunt, Jeanette Byer is one tough lady. She has lived in the country for most of her life, and she is no stranger to hard work. In fact, I’m sure that is what has kept her young all these years. Aunt Jeanette is one lady who simply doesn’t know the word quit. She broke her leg one time, and she insisted that she could still do what she needed to do. So, with a crutch under one arm, and a weed-eater in the other hand, she proceeded to cut the weeds long the fence on their property. Aunt Jeanette simply would not let a little thing like a broken leg slow her down. She says, that she was raised in the country, and out there, you just do whatever you have to do…hard work and all. It was how you made a go of things in the country.

Aunt Jeanette’s sister-in-law, my aunt, Sandy Pattan told me something about Aunt Jeanette that is probably one of the nicest things I’ve ever heard said about a person. She said that Aunt Jeanette never had an unkind word to say about anybody. I was somewhat stunned about that. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe that about Aunt Jeanette, because I had no reason to doubt it. It was stunned because…seriously, how many people can honestly have that said about them, and yet there were several other people who said the same thing about Aunt Jeanette. She simply didn’t gossip, or say a harsh word about anyone. What an amazing tribute that is! I’ve thought about that statement since I first heard it.

What kind of person literally never says an unkind word about anyone? This must be a very forgiving person. I have known Aunt Jeanette all my life. She is a very sweet person, and I have always loved her very much. I can’t think of a time that I ever heard her say an unkind word about anyone. She has always been a fun person, and my husband, Bob and I have always enjoyed talking to her, and to her husband, my Uncle Larry, before his passing. Aunt Jeanette and Uncle Larry were always busy doing things. In fact, the place we often saw them was at Home Depot or Menard’s. They were always fixing something up. I think that is why Aunt Jeanette just never really aged. She stayed busy. Way to go Aunt Jeanette. Today is Aunt Jeanette’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Jeanette!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandniece, Anna Masterson is her own person. She likes what she likes, and she doesn’t care if that makes her different. She doesn’t care if the things she is into are the popular things that others are into or not. If others don’t Ike what she likes…oh well. Anna is not bothered by her uniqueness…and neither am I.

Anna is a quiet girl, but she’s not a shy girl. People think she is shy, but she is a listener. Anna gets to know people and what they are all about before she dives into the conversation. She likes to “figure you out” as her mom, Dustie would say. Once she figures you out, she will let you into her world. Anna thinks before she speaks, and her mom says Anna tends to astound her with with her observations and thoughts. Anna is a realist. She has questions about a lot of things and she wants a real answer, not a sugar coated one intended to make her think the world is all soft and sweet. Anna loves to sit and watch documentaries with her mom. She doesn’t care what it’s about, just that it’s real. She’s very smart and her favorite subjects in school are Math and Science.

She loves God, family, and country, in that order. Her loyalty to all of those is second to none. Her cousin, Aleesia Spethman is like a little sister to her. They are both the youngest in their family, and they are just like sisters, complete with sibling rivalry and the fighting that goes along with it. Nevertheless, as annoyed as she may get with her younger cousin, She also councils her, comforts her and protects Aleesia even from Anna’s brother, Matthew who is Anna’s best friend. Sometimes, When Matthew is to much for Anna to handle alone, she pulls out the big guns, her big sister, Raelynn. These days, since Raelynn had to have back surgery, Anna is extremely protective of of her older sister too. If she hears her sister crying in the night from pain, she is the first one there to comfort her.

Anna has a bright future ahead of her, quite possibly in the area of science. Her close relationship with God will guide her to what he has planned for her. Her parents have no worries about this girl, who is very comfortable in her own skin. She does have a funny side too, though, and according to her mom, loves cheesy puns. One night, she and her mom were making pizza crust. When they were all done and went to wash their hands off, Anna said that they “had just gotten out of a very sticky situation.” Today is Anna’s 10th birthday. Happy birthday Anna!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Caryl Reed is younger than me by three years. She was always the ticklish one in the family…or at least the one who was the most fun to torture. That made her the “victim” of numerous attacks by all of the rest of her four sisters. We were probably brutal in some ways, because lets face it…not breathing is probably not good for a person. Nevertheless, we tickled for as long as we dared…stopping just short of the point of Caryl passing out. I think the Tickle Torture was a dreaded source of pleasure, for lack of a better term. Tickling doesn’t hurt, and some people even like light tickling, but the torture part was definitely a source of dread…for Caryl anyway. Caryl survived those torture years, got married, and moved away…go figure. It wasn’t her idea exactly, but I’m sure se didn’t miss the Tickle Torture while she was gone, and now that she lives closer, we don’t seem to attack her anymore. Still. she is always the potential “victim” in my mind.

Caryl has learned how to monitor breathing, as a respiratory therapist, so maybe we could tickle her even longer now…hmmm!! Still, she doesn’t live close enough for any kind of daily attacks. Caryl works at the Memorial Hospital of Carbon County in Rawlins, Wyoming, and is a respected, essential employee there. In fact, there are things they would have a hard time handling if she were not there. Caryl is dedicated to her job and her patients, and we are all very proud of her accomplishments.

Caryl and her husband, Mike Reed are working on their retirement home, that will ultimately bring them back to Casper to stay. They have purchased a piece of land out on the Old Poison Spider Road…which takes me back to my own childhood years, when a friend of mine lived out there. They are building a beautiful home there with a huge garage, and beautiful living area. Caryl has always wanted to have horses, and they currently board horses there. It’s a win-win situation for her. Eventually they will live there permanently, and then hopefully they can have horses of their own. Either way, their place is a great place to live, and while it’s further outside of town than I want to be these days, they love it. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Watch out for tickle attacks, because I might mention this to Mike or Andrea. Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Katy Collett and her husband, Jake love the outdoors. They knew that they would want to live in the country, so recently the bought a place out in the country where they would have room to spread their wings, and their dogs would have room to roam free. I think in many ways Katy and Jake feel the same way. They love to roam free, and they enjoy not having their neighbors living too close.

Katy’s interests vary, and include hiking, children, and of course, her beloved dogs, especially Bubba, who is her Gentle Giant, and basically dwarfs her. I have seen pets that love their masters, and even pets that hug their masters, but seeing Katy with Bubba…well, it either accentuates just how little she is or just how big he is. Either way, I have to think it’s a good thing that he loves her so much, because he could probably eat her up if he wanted to. When you see them together, Katy looks like a child…maybe ten years old. That’s how big her Gentle Giant…Bubba is.

Katy and Jake both have a great sense of humor. They love jokes and funny videos…especially when there are dogs involved. Their Facebook pages are peppered with funny videos and jokes. I think they like to bounce things off of each other, to make their days brighter. That is really what a good team does. And I think it is a big part of what makes a good marriage. When a couple laughs together, they are far more likely to stay together. Katy and Jake are so good together. It makes me happy to see them having such a great time.

Life if moving forward for Katy and Jake. I don’t know what their future plans are yet, because I don’t know if they know for sure, but they have lots of time to figure it out. Whatever they decide to do, I know that they will be highly successful. They are both great people, and that is half the battle in life. Today is Katy’s birthday. Happy birthday Katy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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