dirt

After the discovery of gold in California, people went crazy…mad really for gold. For twenty years, in fact, all the West was mad for gold. People packed up their lives, and headed west, hoping to dig their fortune out of the California dirt. At first, the people heading west were mostly men, but there were families that went too. It didn’t really matter who it was, when it came to gold, people were willing to fight to the death for what was theirs, or for what they wanted. Greed was the word of the day, and it was a disease that everyone in California had.

The Gold Rush brought honest citizens and outlaws alike to California. People had to be on guard at all times. If someone struck gold, they were an immediate target for anyone willing to steal their gold, or even to kill for it. The mad rush for gold soon spread to other areas of the United States. The gold-hunters, no longer content with California, began to prospect lower Oregon, upper Idaho, and Western Montana too. They figured that if one place had gold, why wouldn’t another place have it too. And with the slightest discovery, came the craziness of Gold Dust Fever.

With Gold Fever came the sinister figure of the trained desperado, the professional bad man. The business of being an outlaw was turned into one highly organized profession that was relatively safe and extremely lucrative. There was wealth to be had for the asking or the taking, and these men, and sometimes women, were willing. Each miner had his buckskin purse filled with native gold. This dust was like all other dust. It could not be traced nor identified; and the old saying, ”’Twas mine, ’tis his,” might here of all places in the world most easily become true. There were no checks, drafts, or currency, as we know it now. The normal means by which civilized men keep a record of their property transactions, were unknown. The gold scales established the only currency, and each man was his own banker, obliged to be his own peace officer and the defender of his own property. It was a wild world. It was a world mad for gold.

I’m sure that most people have seen the movie, Twister. It is a personal favorite of mine. There is one line in the movie, where Aunt Meg said to Jo, that Bill always went his own way, which was usually the same way Jo was going. Well, I can’t say that Bob was going his own way, or that I was, but I can say that we were usually going in the same direction. Maybe that is the key to it, I don’t know, but I like that Bob and I like to do the same things. I never have to find a hiking partner, because Bob and I both love to hike. I don’t have to worry about a bowling partner, because we do it together. We both tend to like to be at home in the evenings…at least after that evening walk, and of course, we both love our family. I think the thing we most like to do though, is to be together. We are best friends, and I like that very much.

Of course, there are a few things that Bob likes to do that I really don’t, such as mechanics. Bob is an excellent mechanic, and has spent the majority of his life working on cars. They say that if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I think for Bob that is a true statement. He really loves mechanics…from the diagnostics to the dirt…he loves it all. I personally don’t want to be all greasy and dirty, but Bob just doesn’t seem to mind, and you just can’t spend much time under a car without getting grease and road dirt all over yourself. All I ask is that he doesn’t wear something that I care about, because after one car, any great shirt he is wearing is no longer very nice. Nevertheless, he sure does clean up nicely.

These days, Bob is trying to wrap his head around the fact that he has been retired for a full year. Of course, he can’t really say that he is retired, because he is still doing the same work…just in a different location. Now he does all his mechanic work at home. I’m glad that he has that, because I think he would go stir crazy if he was just sitting around. Mechanics is what he loves, and I’m sure it is what he will always be doing. If I want him to myself, I still have to take him out of town, where he doesn’t have cars to work on. The good news is of course, I always know where to find Bob…out in the garage. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday sweetie!! Have a great day!! I love you!!

Sisters The oldest child in a family has a very unique position. They are the first experience their parents have at being parents. That first child is subjected to everything from being overprotected from dirt and germs, to having more expected of them than they are really able to live up to at such a young age. Somehow though, they survive first child syndrome. I think that in my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s case, being the first child gave her the ability to be a leader in so many ways. Of course, at home Cheryl was the leader to her little sisters. She helped us to do the things that kids do at certain ages…probably more so me, than our younger sisters, but I know that I always looked up to Cheryl and wanted to be as sophisticated as she was.Cheryl abt 9th grade

Cheryl was always the brave one too. I can think of a number of times, when we heard a noise, and while I would hide, she would jump up and go to investigate. I suppose that could be an age difference, or first child syndrome, or maybe Cheryl was just truly brave, but I know she always seemed to be someone that would do everything necessary to keep her little sisters safe. That had the tendency to give us a sense of security. And the funny thing was that she is only two years older than I am, so it wasn’t like she was an adult. She was just brave, and that made her a role model to the rest of us. Of course, later on, we all learned leadership skills, and bravery too, and while I can’t say for sure that Cheryl taught all that to us…I mean, after all, our parents cheryl104had something to do with that too…I think she played a key part in it, for me anyway.

I am so proud of all of Cheryl’s accomplishments. She is a legal secretary in a big law firm, and quite possibly it is that experience that has given her an attention to detail. I know how much they depend on her to make sure that all the legal documents needed for a case, are correct and where they need to be, when needed. She has come a long way from the little girl who was living through first child syndrome. She has turned into a wonderfully capable and beautiful woman. I’m proud to call her my sister. Today is Cheryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Cheryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Valentine's DayA lot of people think that a day like Valentine’s Day is simply a commercialized day to get people to part with their money, and maybe to a degree it is, but why not have a day to celebrate love. Our world seems to get more and more filled with hate every day, so maybe we really do need to had a day to celebrate love. A person doesn’t have to have a boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, or wife to celebrate love either, because your valentine could just as easily be your kids, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or friends too. All it takes is to have someone you truly care about. In fact, it’s even ok to have multiple valentines too. In my family, it has always been tradition for our parents to give valentines to all the kids and grandkids, and my sisters and I have continued the tradition. Our kids and grandkids always had a valentine, because after all love takes many forms, not just romantic love. They can even be from brothers, and sent on a day that isn’t even Valentine’s Day.

When I look back on all the years of valentines from the time I was just a little girl, through the grade school Valentine heartsyears, to boyfriends, and on the my family, I must say that other that valentines from my husband, Bob, none were a sweet as those to me from my parents, and I hope my children feel the same way. I guess it’s like most of the boyfriends, that never measured up. You think that certain things are so important, like having a boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. As a teenager, that seems like the most important thing, and if you don’t have one, you feel like the loser of the year. Nevertheless, later on in life, you realize that all those years, all those boyfriends…or the lack thereof, meant nothing. Those boyfriends weren’t the ones who stayed with you. Their gifts were nothing more that cheap glitter, even when placed next to the smallest, most inexpensive gift from the one who really loves you and has chosen to spend the rest of their lives with you. Just the gift of self from someone who really loves you, boyfriend or husband…well, it makes the others look like dirt, even if they cost more, because cost has little to do with it.

Beyond the romantic valentines, comes the family valentines. Those family valentines, even if they cost just Valentine from her brotherpennies…or nothing at all…are worth really, solid gold. Drawings done by your babies in pre-school or Kindergarten, are simply priceless, because they come from the best that is in your children, and they portray the love they have for their parents. When they are grown and out of your house, those little echoes of their younger years will be beautifully enhanced by things like valentines drawings done when they where little more than babies. Valentine’s Day is for lovers, it’s true, but some of the sweetest valentines are those that cost nothing, but are worth millions because they were sent with more love that anything that was purchased. Happy Valentine’s Day to all!! I hope your day is filled with true love.

Carpenter BarryA True HelperWhen my nephew, Barry Schulenberg arrived on the scene, on December 11, 1978, he brought with him, a definite culture shock where babies were concerned. Barry was the first grandson in the family, which already had four granddaughters, three of whom were still living. Now it wasn’t that those girls couldn’t be rough and tumble girls, but in reality, they were all pretty girly. Barry, on the other hand, was all boy. He liked things like tractors, trucks, helping his grandpa cut wood, and anything else that his grandpa was doing. The girls would rather sit and watch what grandpa was doing rather than be out there getting dirty with him. In many ways, Barry was just what my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg needed. He loved those granddaughters, don’t get me wrong, and they were really his little princesses, but he needed a boy to do all the guy things with him, and Barry fit that bill perfectly. Nevertheless, for my sister-in-law, Debbie Schulenberg Cook and me, Barry was like an alien from outer space. Debbie had a bit of an advantage over me, in that she was raised with two brothers, but I had four sisters, and boys were very much a real culture shock.

For anyone who has boys, I’m sure you can relate to the difference between boys and girls very well. I only knew what little bit I knew from my nephew, Rob Masterson, my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s son, and at that time…well, he pretty much drove me crazy with his very much boyish ways. Nevertheless, I was about to get a whole new education in little boys, compliments of my nephew, Barry. As most of you know, boys don’t get embarrassed by things like the noises that can come from people, from running around nearly naked…which some girls do too, or from coming in the house covered in dirt or mud. To them, all this is a part of having a great day, and in fact, being required to mind their manners, stay clean, and stay dressed…well, that a boring day. Barry was a typical boy in every sense of the word.Barry on his motorcycleBarry

Barry is a grown man now, and while he is still into trucks, tractors, and many of the other things guys are into, he has long since ceased to do the things that made him a culture shock for me. I can’t speak for his wife, Kelli, on any of his annoying ways, on the other hand, and I’m sure she could name a number of those right off the top of her head, but I think I’ll leave that one alone. Today is Barry’s birthday. Happy birthday Barry!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimageMy grand niece, Hattie Joy Parmely, is celebrating a milestone today. She has arrived at her very first birthday. Her mom, Ashley Parmely tells me that Hattie Joy has lived up to her name quite well, because she is a joy for her whole family to be around. Hattie is a very busy little girl, and sometimes it’s hard for her mom to get pictures of her, because she is moving so fast. I suppose that is why she takes videos to share. And in many ways, I like to see the videos, because it shows me the true Hattie Joy personality that is quickly developing in this baby girl. Hattie is turning into a little toddler now, because she has learned to walk, and she even has three teeth now, so she is starting to love snacking too.

Hattie tries to be very helpful. Her dad, my nephew, Eric Parmely is always working on their house, because imageimagethey bought it as a fixer upper, and they are quickly turning it into their dream home. Hattie is very much on board with the projects that her mom and dad are doing, and while she may not be the greatest help to them right now, she still helps…like it or not. Of course, helping her dad build is not the only big job that little Hattie does. She makes a great motor for her big sister, Reagan’s tricycle. I suppose it’s a good thing that Reagan isn’t very heavy, but for a little one year old girl, Hattie is fully capable of giving her big sister just the push she needs…provided they don’t run into any obstacles and big sister decides to back up, because Hattie isn’t too sure of how to back up yet. Hattie also helps her mom with the earth moving projects they are doing…one rock or handful of dirt at a time. She has a little trouble with that job though. Once she gets to rocks and dirt in her mom’s hand, she knocks them back out. Some jobs just take a little bit of training.

A girl can’t spend all her time working though, and Hattie loves to dance. She is a little bit too young to go clubbing right now, so she settles for struttin’ her stuff whenever her mom puts on some music. Hattie likes dancing so much, that she has even incorporated it into one of her other favorite activities…eating. She puts some food in imageimageher mouth, and then proceeds to dance it down to her tummy…all the while, sitting in her highchair. Now, not everyone can pull that one off, but Hattie does it with style…and with a smile on her little face. It would seem that our Miss Hattie Joy is a born entertainer. With everything she’s got going for her, who knows maybe she will be on Broadway someday, but I guess we will have to let her get a few years under her belt, before we will really know for sure. Today is Hattie’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Miss Hattie Joy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Amy at 2 years oldWhen Amy got madHaving my daughter, Amy Royce live so far away, is something that will take a lot of getting used to. I am used to seeing her every day, and now that is not possible. I’m sure that I can count on one hand the number of times I have missed being with her on her birthday in her 39 years. In fact, I if I had to guess, it would be maybe two times. Even then, I saw her within a day or so of her birthday. We have always been a close family, and so this degree of distance between us seems very foreign to me.

Of course, my dear Amy, you have been on my mind a great degree lately, and when I think of you, I find my mind flooded with visions of you at every stage of your life. You were my teeny little girl who always felt the need to defend yourself from the other little kids who thought you were a baby doll to be played with. Wow, did they have a shock when they tried to pick you up. You could make it very clear with your ability to scream at the top of your lungs, that carrying you around, would not be tolerated. When you where still very small, with your small amount of blond hair, and your great big eyes, we called you Tweety Bird, because you reminded us so much of the bird in the cartoon. And you were Strawberry Shortcake, because at that time, the currently back in the popular zone toy, first came out, and the term fit you so very well. Of course to your dad, you will always be Squirt. You were such a sweet little girl, and yet you had a stubborn streak that came out when you didn’t get your way or you felt like someone didn’t give you the proper degree of respect in any given situation. Daddy's Little HelperYou Stepped On My ToeThen your little face would set in anger and determination to win, and pretty much everyone knew to give you some space. You had a funny way of pronouncing some of your words, and somehow, my little Wyoming Girl, sounded just like a Texan…which we always found pretty funny, unless you were trying to explain that you had “dirt” in your eye by saying the you had “dot” in your eye. Boy you could sure get irritated whenever you were misunderstood.

As you grew up, at least in every way but in height, you learned to have a sense of humor about things, especially when it came to reaching things in high places. I remember the time you bought a t-shirt at school that was marked in such a way as to explain to a blond, the proper way to get dressed, because of the blond jokes that have persisted over the years. I found myself shocked, because as a blond, who was almost always not a blond in the intellectual sense of the word, you had decided to embrace that joke. You used to get so angry about being called a blond, so I couldn’t believe that you would buy such a shirt. I guess that you decided that if you couldn’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em. Because of your small stature, no one could ever really believe your age either. Upon receiving your first traffic ticket, the officer first questioned not if you had you license, but rather if you were old enough to have one at all. And I often wondered if you would need a booster chair to see over the steering wheel in your first car, a Camaro, because back when they were a pretty big car. In fact, I went so far as to give you one that I came across, only to find that you did not agree with my logic concerning this matter. Go figure!!

While you have always seemed younger than your years in looks and size, you have proven yourself to be a Amy graduation editedAmy and Carynwise and very talented girl when it comes to most things in your life. You are a very capable insurance agent, and one that I have been not only proud and happy to work with, but upon your move, an agent that I have been proud to send to your new agency, because they have received a great asset to their company. Your ability to learn the nuances of insurance is amazing. Sadly, our loss is their gain, and we miss you every day…especially your mom. Today in Amy’s birthday. Happy birthday Amy!! Have a great day!! We love you very much!! And ET, don’t forget to call home often. We really need that.

Boys vs girlsHave you ever noticed that the minute you dress a boy in good clothes for a special occasion, they find a mud hole. They just have an uncanny knack for finding them right about then. It’s never their fault, you know. They always tripped and fell into it, or just didn’t see it. Of course, both excuses are designed to keep the guilty boy from being in trouble. They don’t even have to go outside to find dirt. It is attracted to them like a magnet. I’m not sure who this boy is, but Aunt Laura was quite content to stay clean and pretty.

Now I’m not saying that little girls can’t find a good bit of dirt too, but they tend to be a little better about staying clean when they are dressed up. Maybe it’s Amy at 2 years oldbecause the boys really don’t want to be dressed up, and little girls…in most cases…like to look dressy and pretty. Having had daughters myself, I can tell you that their clothes stayed pretty clean for the most part, so when they did get really dirty, like the time Amy backed into a pan of oil in her grandpa’s garage, because she was trying to see her Uncle Lynn, who is 6’6″…to her approximately 2’4″ stature at the time. There was no doubt in my mind that it was a complete accident. Girls also might get dirty if they are trying to put makeup on…as was the case with Corrie one time at my mother’s house. Even then, she didn’t get it on her clothes. They just weren’t the kind to get so messy on a regular basis. My granddaughter, Shai was the same way. She didn’t like being messy, and when she got messy…in any way…she cried almost hysterically until you changed her. She was always a Corrie's makeupgirly girl, and getting dirty just simply didn’t fit into her plan for the day.

But those boys…all boys…seem to have no issue getting and staying dirty. And it doesn’t matter how old they are. Bob comes in from the garage sometimes just covered with dirt and grease, and it doesn’t bother him a bit. If I go out there to help him, and I get even a speck of grease or dirt, it must be washed of as soon as humanly possible. That is just the way it is. I don’t think of myself as a prissy girl, but I guess I am a girly girl. I can get down and dirty, but when I’m done, it is time to clean up, but for most boys, getting dirty is the best part of life.

A Good ShaveThe first time I saw this picture, I thought it was another one of those pictures where the people were acting for the camera, only the person in this one appeared to be giving first aid to someone who was injured. It had to be acting, because the person who was giving first aid was smiling, and tending to an injured person really isn’t a laughing matter…especially when the injured person appears to be unconscious…or was he?

Old black and white pictures fascinate me. You have to look carefully to see the whole picture sometimes. Upon closer scrutiny of this picture, it occurred to me that maybe this wasn’t exactly the picture I though it was. My eye caught something that didn’t look quite right, and when I zoomed in on it, I could se that the man lying in the dirt was actually getting…or supposed to be getting a shave, with a straight razor…in the dirt!!

I’m beginning to think that some of my early relatives were really comedians. If the man in the dirt was getting a real shave, why would he be lying in the dirt to get it? And if he was getting a real shave, why was the shaving cream all over his face…including above his eyebrows? If he was getting a shave, was he crazy to be letting this person give him that shave…with a straight razor? If you ask me, I would say that if this was a real shave, both of these men were crazy!!

My guess is that this was all another of those goofy scenes that seemed to be all the rage in those days. When I look at the pictures from the current day, I have to think that maybe we could learn a little bit about what is funny from these guys, because their shots are a whole lot funnier than ours are, in my opinion. I suppose it all depends on what you draw from. We have seen so much on television that there isn’t much left that hasn’t been done already, but they were taking the rough and wild daily lives of living in the old west, and adding a little humor to it to get a laugh that would last for years to come. While, I’m pretty convinced that this picture was another of those staged comic shots, it did depict the way people did things back them. We still shave today, of course, but I’m thankful that a straight razor in not what we have to use to get a close shave these days, because that could lead to the injury kind of close shave, when placed in the wrong hands.

SistersIn any family, it seems that the younger children are treated differently than the older ones. They seem to get away with more, and probably get to do things earlier than the older kids. I think the main reason for this is that the parents got used to being parents. The things you worry about as new parents, like crawling around on a floor that isn’t totally sanitized, a bottle that fell on the floor going right back into the mouth, or eating dirt…for pity sakes, are just things a new parent would never allow.

Then, as the child gets a little older, and the parents see them eating worms, along with that dirt, it just gets to a point where they know the kid won’t break. Then when the younger kids come along…well, veteran parents know the ropes, and they know that you can’t control everything that happens in your kids lives. Things are just different.

Suddenly, spending the night with grandparents is ok at 2, instead of 4, and in this day and age, they get their first cell phone in kindergarten or first grade. Of course, when you think about it, these kids know more about the computer by 3 than a lot of their parents do, so I suppose it seems like they are really just little adults.

This change in the rules isn’t really their parents fault, it is just a fact of life. It has been going on for years. I think I might have been one of  the last of the parents to make my girls do things by ages, but then they were only eleven months apart. Amy didn’t have to Olders and Youngerswait very long anyway.

When there are a few years between the kids, it seems like the lines of fairness and ages get blurred some, and unless the older child is right there to remind them that their younger sibling isn’t supposed to get to do stuff earlier than they did, things just slip past them, and before they realize it those younger ones are doing things two years ahead of their older siblings. And when they do realize it, the now veteran parent shrugs their shoulders and calmly remarks, “Oh well, these things happen.” I guess being the youngest ones has its perks, in some ways anyway.

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