crazy

Pick me UpDog PileWhile we were visiting many of our family members in Superior, Wisconsin and Duluth, Minnesota, our cousin, Bill Spencer surprised us with a copy of a slide show that he had put together for his family. We were so busy while we were there, that there was no time to take a look at the slide show. When I got home, I looked at it briefly, but nothing really in depth. Yesterday, I took another look…a longer look. I had no idea what a gold mine that slide show would turn out to be. As I watched it, I felt like I had been instantly transported back in time. It was so fun to look at those old shots of all of us as kids. It also felt just a little bit lonely when I looked at holiday pictures from the time right after we left Superior. Prior to that, we would have most likely been in some of those pictures, and I’m sure that my cousins would agree with me when I say that feels a little bit sad too.

Cheryl and Pam had always been good friends, and the younger kids naturally partnered with Bill and Jim. That could have left me feeling like a third wheel, but I got along just as well with the younger kids, so it worked out very well. The reality was that I thought the stuff the younger kids were doing was more fun most of the time anyway. Not to say that I wouldn’t have wanted to spend time with Cheryl and Pam, but I was a pretty active kid. and the rough housing that the younger kids and I did was quite appealing to me. In fact, I probably instigated much of it…if not all of it.

I was really into gymnastics, with tumbling being my favorite part of it. My sisters and I used to practice our tumbling on the front lawn, so it stood to reason that we would do that when our cousins were there too. We practiced things like cartwheels, hand springs, and touching our toes to our head…which turned out to be a little difficult for my cousin, Jimmy, try as he might. And believe me, his trying was pretty funny. I don’t know if he really thought that he could pull his legs up to his head with his hands, but believe me, you can’t do it. Either you are limber enough, or you aren’t. It’s as simple as that.

The younger kids would do their best to gang up on me, to prove their superiority…or maybe it was just the mere number of them against me, or maybe they had a little help from Aunt Doris. Whatever the case may be, sometimes I found myself out numbered. Of course, it was all in fun, and we had such a good time when they were here or we were there. Just looking at the picture of the dog pile makes me smile. All I can say, is that I’m glad I didn’t have all those kids on top of me. I would have been squished for sure!! What crazy, fun times those were.

Seeing my cousins this summer, took me back to those carefree days. Sometimes, you get used to being away from those you love, and you somehow don’t realize how much we miss those times, until we go back for a Head to ToeUpside Downshort time. Then, the memories flood back in. You talk for hours about all the old times, and you suddenly realize just how much you have missed those times. Nevertheless, time has marched on, and you can’t go back to when you were young. All you can do is try to keep the memories alive in your memory files, and pull them out once in a while so you can relive those moments. Those days are gone, but the memory lives on to remind you that those were the days, and they were great. Childhood is but a fleeting moment, but those days will always be a part of who we are.

Uncle Bill and BillyLaurie Carlson SteppKids seem to think that they are invincible. I don’t know where they got such an idea, but they often take chances without giving a second thought to how dangerous something might be and whether or not they will get hurt…or worse, killed. It has been the same way throughout time, I think. Recently, while visiting my Uncle Bill Spencer, his son Bill asked him if, while walking across a railroad trestle, they had ever encountered a train. Uncle Bill confirmed that they had, and when asked what they did, he said, “We dropped under the trestle and hung on until the train had gone over.” He said that it really shook. Well, I don’t mind saying that my uncle’s revelation made my blood run cold, but when I later mentioned that to my cousin Laurie Carlson Stepp, she told me that she had done that too, and that I shouldn’t tell her mother about it. Well, Laurie, I don’t think your mom gats to read my stories, so I have kept my promise, I think. Laurie told me that all the kids she knew did that, and never gave a thought to whether or not it might be dangerous. Yes, I’m sure that’s right. Kids don’t think about stuff like that. They are invincible…right?

My dad and Uncle Bill, and possibly even my Aunt Ruth, did the same thing. They never gave it a thought…or not that they would admit. When I think about the trestle they were on when the trains came over, the distance to the ground from there, and the fact that there was only a creek at the bottom of that trestle…I cringe. It might be my extreme dislike of heights, or it could be that hanging under a railroad trestle while a train is going over is…seriously crazy!! Nevertheless, you can’t tell kids how dangerous or crazy something is, because they know everything…right! My dad and my Uncle Bill, I have learned over the years, were certain that they were invincible. They messed around with dynamite, walked on railroad trestles, jumped on the trains even though they had a pass, and countless other stunts that make me cringe, but somehow both lived to tell about it…but I’m quite sure they didn’t tell their mother either.

A lot of the chances kids take in driving their cars can be pretty dangerous too. Things like four wheeling up a scan0011 (3)Railroad Trestle in Holyokesteep hill. I have seen video after video of people rolling their vehicle trying that one. I’ve never tried that, but I can say that I’ve driven my car much faster than I should have. I think I’ll decline to say how fast, because my mother does read my stories every day, and since I have to see her pretty often, I don’t really want her to shoot me. I can say, Mom, that it was only one time, I was 18, and even my friends told me to slow down. After that, I decided that taking that kind of stupid chance with my life and the lives of my friends wasn’t worth any thrill it might have given. Like most kids, I’m wiser now.

David Martin PattanEvery family has it strange characters. For mine it would have to be my great great grandfather, David Martin Pattan. Some might have called him eccentric, or even crazy , but no one really knows exactly why he did the things he did…or, as is the case for some parts of his life, why he did the things he did…over and again.

After David’s parents died on Ohio, which is where David was born in about 1828, he moved to Illinois and settled in Knox County near Gibson. He met and married my great great grandmother, Elizabeth Ellen Shuck on December 25, 1856 in Knoxville, Illinois. Together they had six sons and four daughters. As I look at the marriage certificate, I looks like his last name was spelled Patten and Elizabeth’s was spelled Shuck. We have always spelled his Pattan and hers Schuck.

During the Civil War, he enlisted in Company H 102nd Illinois Volunteer Infantry on August 8, 1862, a little less than a year after his third son, Joseph was born. He was discharged on October 1, 1863, just 3 days before Joseph’s third birthday. At his discharge his had a disease of the larynx and bronchia that caused him not to be able to speak louder that a whisper for two months. He then enlisted in Company D36 Illinois Volunteer Infantry on September 27, 1864. It is unknown if he just forgot that he had already served, or if he just felt that his services were needed again. He was shot in the right arm, just above the elbow, in the Battle of Lookout Mountain in Tennessee on November 29, 1864. He spent the next five weeks in a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. Upon his discharge, he was sent back to his unit. He was discharged on May 20, 1865 with 1/2 disability.

After David’s discharges from his times in the infantry, he and Elizabeth had their remaining seven children. At some point after the birth of their twins in 1876, David went to town and didn’t come back. He was gone for seventeen years. Then, one day in town, David’s son George, my grandfather, saw him in town. The sheriff was about to arrest him, when George offered to take him home. I guess he must have been drinking or causing some other such mischief that didn’t necessarily warrant jail time. Once home, they found out that he had been married to another woman and they had a son and a daughter, both of whom were named the same names as a son and daughter with Elizabeth. This leads me to wonder if something had happened seventeen years earlier that caused him not to remember the first marriage. That family died in a flash flood, so maybe that was why he was back. I have heard that he was married one more time…again without the benefit of a divorce, and when the third wife tried to collect his pension, she was denied because they weren’t legally married. No children were born to that union.

I don’t know if my great great grandfather was just a man who liked to marry different women, or if there was truly something mentally wrong with him. I have found out that his name was spelled every way you can possibly spell Pattan…Patton, Patten…and that for a time at least, he went by the alias, David Martin Berry. Berry was his mother’s maiden name, so I David Pattan pension papers editedguess that worked. I have to wonder if he used the other names so that he could keep the wives straight…again, if he mentally knew that he was married. The research on his marriages is complicated due to these differences in names, but I have to wonder if the third wife, at least, went by berry, because that name is listed on the pension request, probably to avoid paying out twice. Whatever the reasons were for his double military service, and his three marriages, my great great grandmother took him back, and in the end cared for him until his dying day. They are buried together in Little York Cemetery in Warren Illinois.

Lindsay and MichelleKids are always doing goofy little things, and my niece Michelle is no exception. When I asked my niece, Lindsay, who is Michelle’s cousin/best friend/partner in crime, to give me a little dirt on Michelle for her birthday story, little did I know what I would hear. When I think of Michelle, I automatically think of Lindsay too, because they were practically inseparable as kids, and while they live a good distance away from each other now, that distance has not changed their friendship at all. As little kids, they decided to make up a special language for themselves. In the end they made up several…and they both knew exactly what the other one was saying. I suppose that it might be because their languages were logical to a degree. Lindsay explained one language this way. My name is spelled Caryn, so in their language it would be Caong Arong Yon Nong. Now that’s a pretty long version of a name that isn’t really that long, but that would be the name anyway. The girls understood each other completely, and their favorite thing to do was to go to Walmart and walk around talking to each other in their secret language…just to see the people around them looking at them like they were crazy. They enjoyed that so much that they spoke that language for two years.

No matter how inventive these girls were, the one thing they couldn’t imagine was enjoying a Bologna sandwich. Their grandma, my mom fed her kids and grandkids a lot of Bologna sandwiches through the years, and whenever she fed them to Michelle and Lindsay, they would take the Bologna off and throw it in the bushes in the back yard, and eat the sandwich with mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles, and they decided that they kind of liked it…and they thought Mom’s taste in sandwiches was bad. I’m sorry, but I beg to differ. Mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles…I don’t think so, girls. Still, it’s a wonder the bushes didn’t die, because…let’s face it, Bologna isn’t plant food. Michelle, is however, a very good cook, and in their senior year, Michelle had a free period right before lunch. She would go home and make lunch for Lindsay who would come over at lunch. It was a fond memory of Lindsay’s from that year. Another fond memory is the day that Michelle and Lindsay kidnapped, Lindsay’s little sister, Kellie and made her ditch her class. Kellie was a little freaked out about it, but their mom, my sister, Allyn was a good sport, and didn’t kill them for it.

Michelle is seldom called Michelle, because she has a number of nicknames. I don’t know if these date back to the secret languages or not, but Lindsay has long called her Mash Stav…don’t ask me why or what that means, because it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just one of the goofy names they used. Lindsay also called her Meechelle, my Belle. Lacey, Michelle’s little sister often called her Mish Mash. They couldn’t go with any of the normal nicknames, like Shelly or anything, because that would be too…normal. And not to be outdone, Michelle had nicknames for Allyn’s family too. Lindsay became Lance, Kellie became Killay, and Allyn became Lynnie…and there are probably many more that we haven’t thought of.Michelle-Stevens-drawing

Michelle is a very intelligent person. She has moved to Spearfish, South Dakota to finish her education, before beginning her career choice of being an art teacher. She is an incredible artist and will be an amazing art teacher. She is also a very fun person, who is a friend to all. While she does feel lonely and homesick sometimes, she likes the Spearfish area, and especially the lack of wind. We miss her too. Today is Michelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Michelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Bob's TrainOnce again, it is here…that big shopping day that always arrives on the Friday after Thanksgiving…Black Friday. Not everyone wants to get up in the wee hours of the morning…ok, the middle of the night…to hit the stores hoping to find the best prices for that special gift you want to buy for those people on your shopping list. It does take a special kind of crazy to do that, and thanks to my sister, Allyn, who got us started on this a number of years ago, Bob and I definitely fit into that category. Allyn’s husband Chris, quite going a long time ago, but Bob likes to go. Hey, don’t laugh…I’m not out there by myself, like a lot of women are…thanks Bob!!

We spend as much time as we can spare combing through the ads, to see what stores we need to go to, and how early, so that we don’t miss out on that perfect item. We try to go to bed early so we can get up about 3:00am, hoping to be at the stores, preferably with a nice hot cup of Cappuccino from Loaf and Jug to wake us up and keep us warm. I don’t ever get all my shopping done on Black Friday, partly because I don’t always have lists from my family, and partly because around 9:00, we are all done with the whole Black Friday Shopping thing, and ready for breakfast. So off we go to hit up Johnny J’s Diner for a real cup of coffee, and a nice hot breakfast.

After breakfast, the day generally finds me taking a nap, because while I am crazy enough to Christmas Pastgo shopping at 4:00 in the morning, I still need my sleep. Bob usually winds up in the garage working on someone’s car, which is nothing unusual for him…and that is another kind of crazy on Black Friday, but whatever he wants to do us fine by me, as long as I get my nap.

Whether you choose to shop at the stores on Black Friday, and the rest of the next month until all your Christmas shopping is done, or get online on Cyber Monday, and have it shipped right to your home, the fact remains that the Christmas season is once again upon us, and time waits for no man. So, I ask you…”Do you Black?”

James and friends in Virginia BeachMy grand nephew, James has become quite the ladies’ man, and now that he is turning 16, I’m sure that will only get worse…for his mom, my niece, Toni, who would much rather have her young man stay a boy for a while longer, I’m sure. Unfortunately for Toni, there just isn’t anything you can do about your kids growing up, and James is one of those men who would have to be classified as tall, dark, and handsome, and we have always thought he looked a little bit like Elvis, so most likely that is what always catches the eye of Pony Ridethe girls in the area. It is a fact of life.

It seems like just yesterday that James was born. He was such a cute little boy, with lots of dark hair. He was a quiet boy, but that didn’t mean that his sense of humor didn’t shine forth. James likes being funny, in a subtle way. He’s not like the class clown or anything, but instead, his antics are designed to make people notice that he is goofy and then laugh with him. Although, every once in a while, James will go on a streak, and do something totally crazy, like ride on a pony ride…I didn’t think those even existed anymore…did you?

It seems like with every baby that was due in June, my mom Young James_editedwould hope for them to arrive on her dad’s birthday…June 15th. While some have come close, none actually made Mom’s perfect arrival date, until James came on the scene. I wish he could have known his great great grandpa, but that was not to be, since he would have been 104 at the time James was born. Nevertheless, James reminds me a little bit of my Grandpa…mostly in the way he is built…tall and slender, and maybe in his personality…both of them being quiet men and all. So my mom finally got her wish for the June babies in our family. One finally arrived on the right day…June 15th, the birthday that James shares with his great great grandpa. Today is James’ 16th birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Boys Night OutWhen a household has three boys, and one baby girl, and each of the boys have a friend spend the night on the same night, what do you have? Well, besides chaos and a severely outnumbered little girl, you have boys night out! For the boys who are staying the night with my grand nephews, it truly is boys night out. For Xander, Zack, and Isaac, it is boys night in, not that they mind that one bit. Now, as to my niece Jenny and her husband Steve, I have to think they might be just a little bit insane, but then they have been around boys for most of their married life, so I suppose they are used to the ways of little boys. I, on the other hand, having had girls, would most likely have gone insane…until I had my grandsons anyway. Being around boys does change a person.

Slumber parties…or boys night out, as my grand nephews informed me…like slumber party must be the closest thing to cooties on girls, and something they definitely would never be a part of…usually follow the same pattern. Lots of playing, loudness, wild and wound up kids, and little sleep. Nevertheless, do not call it a slumber party. I mean, what self respecting macho man would have a slumber party. There are differences between slumber parties and boys night out, however. Girls usually do things like make up, dancing, and of course gossip. Boys, on the other hand might play super hero, watch movies, or talk about their various weapons. I suppose when you think about it, the two events really are very different. And I suppose that calling this event a slumber party, could be thought to be insulting…a mistake I hope not to make in the future, because my grand nephews looked at me like I had kind of messed up in the great aunt department, and I’m supposed to be the cool great aunt, not the nerd. I guess that is something I’ll have to work to repair now, but that will have to happen in the future for now.

I didn’t ask Jenny and Steve how the boys night out went for them, but I guess it was ok, because they were both in church today, meaning that even if they feel little bit exhausted, or a little bit crazy, they did survive the event. I guess that is a good thing. And as for Aleesia, the lone little girl in the house that night, well, she was still smiling, so either they all had a good time playing with her too, or her parents kept her away from the boys so they could have their own space. Whatever the case may be, the boys told me that they had a great time at their boys night out.

My nephew, Garrett is a man who loves his family. No, he is not married, but he loves his parents, sisters, and in a very special way, his young cousins. Garrett will make a great dad some day, because he loves children. They just click. He doesn’t mind playing their games, and they love being around this grown up who has a little bit of kid in him too. He rough houses with them and chases them around. All the things that little kids like to do. Maybe Garrett forgot to grow up or something.

Garrett is a family kind of a guy, but with a bit of a wild side…or should I say a crazy side. Garrett is a man who is really all kid. He likes to joke around with everyone. And his sisters are two of his prime targets. If he isn’t attacking them, he is hugging them. And since he would never hurt them, either prospect isn’t a bad deal. It’s just that you never know quite what to expect from a brother like that. And if I were those girls, I wouldn’t turn my back on him too often.

Nevertheless, Garrett is a great guy. He is helpful to those who need his help, and kind to those needing kindness. He is a friend to everyone he meets, and is loved by all who know him. He is a guy that doesn’t mind helping he grandmother. And we all know that a lot of kids are too busy for things like that, but not Garrett. He comes to help at her house when she asks him to, and helps her get into church on Sundays. He is just like that.

I know that whatever Garrett decides to do with his life, he will succeed at it, because he has the perfect mix of ingredients…love, kindness, playfulness, craziness, wildness, goofiness…all tings that make him the great guy that he is. Today is Garrett’s birthday. Happy birthday Garrett!! We love you.

It seems like every family has a comedian or two in it. My grandson, Caalab definitely falls into that category. He is constantly coming up with new ways to be silly and to make other people laugh. And believe me, he is pretty good at it. From the time he was little, he could tell a joke and never forget the punch line. Or he would make up his own funny stuff, and it was really funny.

The other day, he was helping me scan pictures onto my computer, and as we were finishing up for the day,he said, “Would it be ok if I scanned my face?” Now we have all seen the jokes where people copy their face on a copier, but I hadn’t seen a scanned face before. As crazy as it sounded, I couldn’t exactly see a problem with it, so he scanned his face several times.

Of course, he had to try several different looks to see what might be the funniest, and then he wanted to make sure the scans were saved…for some future joke, I’m quite sure. As I have looked over pictures for my blogs, I have come across these scanned pictures of my silly grandson, and laughed about them every time. It is amazing to me that even without trying, he has figured out a way to make me laugh.

The really funny thing is that once Caalab has created the funny thing, the moment for him is over, and he can walk away, leaving you with the memory of the funniness. He will now save it in the archives of his mind, bringing it up at some later date to see your reaction over and over again. The cool thing is that he doesn’t overdo the whole thing either. It just comes up once in a while and then as quickly as it appeared, it is gone again. He’s good that way.

Our comedian grandson will always be that way, because being a comedian is as much a part of him as his great smile. It is part of his wiring, if you will. Everyone is crafted differently. We all have our strong suits, and our weak ones. Everyone excels at something. And most of us have several things we are really good at. Caalab is no exception. He plays the guitar…and is getting quite good, he loves dogs…of every kind, he has a good heart…filled with kindness, and he is a funny guy…a comedian. Yes, Caalab is always coming up with some new and very funny way to make people laugh. You might say he is…Scanning the Possibilities!!