dogs

While many people had a terrible 2020, my niece, Toni Chace and her husband, Dave continued to work, and really ended the year in good shape. They didn’t get Covid-19, like so many in the family and hope they don’t. Normally they would do a lot of traveling, but like most people, that was curtailed this year. The only trip they took was to Centennial, Wyoming, to visit Dave’s parents, Jim and Nancy Chase. The trip was a blessing to all, and like most of us, much needed to keep us from getting cabin fever…no pun intended, because they were in Dave’s parents cabin, in Centennial. I’m sure it all felt rather confining for them, but sometimes, a nice quiet vacation can be very nice too.

As I have talked to Toni’s family members, I am told that she loves her dogs. In fact I’m told that in her family, the dogs, Biscuit and Cricket, are her first loves, with Dave, and her son, James coming in second and third. According to Dave he is the third position. I can’t really decide how “true” that statement is, because I know that Toni dearly loves her husband and son, but in the interest of telling the story as it was told to me, I’ll say that Toni really loves her dogs. James says that his mom loves her dogs more than him and Dave combined. As happens in most owner/pet relationship sources, especially when there are multiple people in the family, pets often choose one owner as their “own” human. That is the case with Biscuit and Toni. Biscuit loves his human…Toni. In fact, Biscuit actually gets separation anxiety when Toni is gone for work. Toni’s sister, Liz Masterson figures that Biscuit sits at the window all day, until Toni gets home. Life (for Biscuit) begins again when Toni (his human) gets home. While loving her dogs more than her husband and son, is a funny thought, it does go to show Toni’s heart for her pets and her family. She also love buying them treats and toys. I think maybe her dogs just like being treated like babies.

While her home is filled with mostly men (Cricked is a girl), her son, James brought home a girl who is in the United States on a work visa, named Manuela. She is from Columbia, and Toni likes her very much. The whole family does. She is bubbly and fun, and most of all, she loves Toni’s pride and joy…her son. Time will tell where that is going, but they are enjoying the journey. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My oldest daughter, Corrie Petersen is one of the hardest working people I know. She works full time as a CNA at Wyoming Medical Center, while going to nursing school. The hours are long, in both of her ventures. She works nights on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on the surgical floor of the hospital. The life of a CNA is always a busy one. Anyone who has been in the hospital can tell you that they run to call lights, help patients with all their personal needs, help patients with their mobility exercises, help in taking vitals, and so much more. It all adds up to twelve hours on your feet, with a small window of time to sit while charting and such. When she isn’t working or catching a few winks of sleep, Corrie’s time is spent studying, at least during the school year. She studies or goes to class or clinicals many hours a week. It’s really like having two full-time jobs.

Of course, Corrie is all about her family too. She is a wife to Kevin, mom to sons, Chris (and his fiancée) and Josh, and grandma to her little granddaughter. She is also a fur mommy to dogs, Dottie, Izzy, Bella, and to their cat, Zoe. Now the dogs love Corrie but she doesn’t have much time to play, so they really hang with Kevin more. Zoe, on the other hand, wants Corrie’s attention whenever she sits down. Zoe doesn’t understand studying, and whenever Corrie isn’t spending enough time to suit Zoe, she just decides to sit in the middle of Corrie’s book or computer, as if to say, “It’s my turn!! Pay attention to me!!” Corrie tells me that Zoe is her study partner, but I don’t think they were getting much studying done.

Corrie’s life is so busy, and sometimes I don’t know how she manages. She truly gets up in the morning, and runs all day and into the late night, then falls into bed and tries to unwind and sleep. It’s hard to unwind for Corrie, sometimes, because her mind is busy planning out the next day. Still, once in a while, Corrie finds a little bit of time to rest. She told me that she always takes her breaks at work, because she knows she needs that little bit of downtime to properly care for her patients, and I totally agree. A healthcare worker has to take care of themselves too, because if they get sick or exhausted, they are no help to their patients either. Corrie’s work life is all about the people she takes care of. When she went into this field, we talked about the fact that a CNA is often the person the patient sees the most, and so is the one who can effectively change the course of their patients day. A smile, a kind word, and a gentle touch can take a day filed with pain and upset, and change it to a day that is filled with sunshine. That is the ultimate goal for Corrie…bringing the sunshine. Today is Corrie’s birthday. Happy birthday Corrie…you passed your sister again!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, Bowen Parmely is the only son of my nephew, Eric Parmely and his wife Ashley. Being the only boy, with three sisters can be a bit daunting sometimes I’m sure, but Bowen is very loved by his sisters. Having only sisters myself, I know how overwhelming girls can be. We all have our own ideas about how things should go, and an easy going little boy could get pushed around by so many girls.

Life on the farm is wonderful for Bowen. He loves the animals they raise, and really can’t think of anywhere he would rather be. I think his favorite place on the farm is seated on the back of a horse, preferably eating his popsicle. Of course, he is just as happy holding he kitty or playing with the dogs the family has. For most little boys, living on a farm with lots of animals, and plenty of hiding places in the hay required to feed the animals would be the life. Of course, having two of his sisters be older than he is, makes the many fun games they play together possible. There is a lot to be said for the imagination of big sisters. Sometimes I wonder, however, how often Bowen find himself playing games that seem a bit girly to him, and thinking, “Boy, oh boy, I would love to have a friend to play with that is a boy, who would play the kind of games I want to.” Maybe not, but it seems logical to me. Boys are wired differently, and we girls just don’t think the same way most of the time. The good news is that Bowens parents are not prissy people, and neither are the girls, so things are “all good” for the most part.

The family loves to get out and go hiking, skiing, and riding their bicycles…all things that most boys love to do, and Bowen is no exception. He is totally in his element outside. It doesn’t matter if its playing in the dirt or mud, running with the dogs, riding the horses, or riding his bicycle, Bowen is an active boy with lots of energy. He is, after all, his daddy’s boy, and wants nothing more than to be just like his dad. What boy doesn’t, really? Still, he loves his mommy, and is a great joy for her…as he is for everyone who knows him. Bowen having a little sister has made him sensitive to the needs of the little ones too. At Christmas, when our whole family got together, I watched as he pushed my great granddaughter around in a stroller, the two of them having a fabulous time. He didn’t even expect her to push him, probably because she is younger, but rather, he was just happy to make her smile, and she in turn loved playing with her cousin. I could see that Bowen has a heart for these girls, older or younger. I think that will make him a very wonderful gentleman when he grows up, and really, makes him quite the little gentleman right now. Today is Bowen’s 3rd birthday. Happy birthday Bowen!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

After being honorably discharged from the Navy, my niece, Gaby Beach, who married my nephew Allen Beach on September 24, 2014, started working while Allen when to college to get his degree. Once he was finished, the plan was for Allen to work while Gaby went to school to get her degree. It was a good plan, because it allowed each of them to study hard, without having to work. They could devote themselves to their studies. While Allen now works as the department manager over referral, communications, ambulances, Gaby is getting ready to begin her second year of nursing school. Having worked as a corpsman in the Navy, nursing is a perfect next step for Gaby, who was a very good corpsman.

These days, when she’s not studying, Gaby has become very interested in house plants. She has a green thumb, and loves plants. She has decided to complete the “Let’s Grow Together In 2020” initiative. I looked over the program, and it would be really a cool thing to do…if I didn’t have a decidedly brown thumb. Unlike me, Gaby has a real knack for plants, and for arranging them. I know that her plants will beautify their home, and make it a healthier place too. Plants a good to have in the home…as long as you can keep them alive, that is. Gaby can do just that, and her plants are thriving. Her day 8 plant…the fastest grower was the Epipremnum Pinnatum or “Cebu Blue,” names I wouldn’t have known, had Gaby not posted them. I may not know much about plants, but I have enjoyed seeing Gaby’s posts about her adventures with them, and I look forward to the future posts as well.

Gaby ability to raise plants isn’t surprising, because she has a real knack for all living things. I am reminded of her work with therapy dogs during her Navy years. I’m ok with dogs, but I can’t say I’m “comfortable” with dogs. Cats yes, dogs…not so much. Gaby, on the other hand, is a natural. Dogs just instinctively love Gaby, as much as she loves them. And I think everyone in our family can understand that, because we have all come to love Gaby too. She brightens our world every time we see her. Today is Gaby’s birthday. Happy birthday Gaby!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Hattie Parmely is the second child of my nephew, Eric Parmely and his wife, Ashley. They live on a farm outside of Casper, where Hattie and her siblings Reagan, Bowen, and Maeve are learning the ropes of taking care of farm animals. They have chickens, goats, cows, dogs, cats, and horses. Hattie and her siblings have no qualms about helping out. They get right in there and help clean out stalls, feed the animals, and of course, love on the new babies as they come along. They totally love their fur babies.

Hattie has mastered her bicycle now, and is becoming quite the equestrian. She looks so cute riding her little pony. She can’t get up by herself yet, but that will come as she gets taller. Hattie has grown up around these horses, so she has learned to make them comfortable with her. It’s strange to see this little girl standing in the midst of great big horses. Yet she is not afraid, and they aren’t either.

Hattie, along with big sister Reagan, are their parents big helpers. With a little brother and a new little sister, there is lots to do. Hattie is learning all the things that she can do to help her parents around the house, and she stubbornly sticks to things until she has mastered them. Hattie is in the unique position of the two girls, because she has a big sister to show her the ropes. Reagan loves her little sister. The two girls are very close, and very good friends. I find that siblings who live in the country tend to be good friends. Maybe it is the distance from other playmates, or maybe it is a mutual love that comes from learning to cooperate to get anything done. Whatever the case may be, these two girls are the best of friends. Of course, they both love their younger siblings too. Hattie is a very caring girl who often puts the needs of others ahead of herself. Kindness and compassion are traits that will carry her all her life. Today is Hattie’s 5th birthday. Happy birthday Hattie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand nephew, James Renville has been working hard, going to college, and living at home with his mom, Toni Chase and step-dad, Dave Chase. It has been a good way to go for James, because he attended Casper College, and his parents live in Casper, so why pay for a dorm or apartment. James and his parents get along very well, so it has worked out nicely. In addition, living at home gives James’ the ability to enjoy the family dog, which he could not have in a dorm or in most apartments. James has always had a dogs, and right now they Biscuit and Cricket, and they would be lonely without James.

James graduated from college in May, with a degree in Communications and Media. I wasn’t sure just exactly what you can do with that degree, so I did a bit of research. Jobs directly related to your degree include: Media planner, Multimedia specialist, Program researcher, broadcasting/film/video, Public relations officer, broadcasting/film/video, Social media manager, Television/film/video producer, and Web content manager…just to name a few. I’m not sure just exactly what James has in mind for his career, but he has time to explore the great possibilities for career ideas.

James may continue his education, but for right now, he’s taking a break from school. He is working at Home Depot right now, and saving his money, because he wants to travel overseas again. James visited the Netherlands a couple of times, where he has a close friend, and that really gave him the travel bug. His job and living at home allows him to put his money into his travel plans. James has big plans for his life, possibly including moving out of Wyoming, but nothing is set in stone right now, so I guess time will tell. Of course, we hope he doesn’t go too far. Still, the future is wide open, and I’m excited to see where it will take him. Today is James’ birthday. Happy birthday James!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Toni Chase has been going through some big changes this year, and that can be hard on people. These were changes that affected Toni; her husband, Dave; and son, James; but especially Toni. James is grown up now, and really isn’t home much, so for Toni, empty nest syndrome has a very real thing…and not one that she is sure she likes very much. In addition, her dog, Bones, who was pretty old, died and that left Toni feeling even more lonely.

Dave had always had Bichon dogs, and so Toni talked him into getting one. Biscuit soon joined the family, and Toni loves her puppy baby very much, but before long she realized that Biscuit was lonely too, even when she quit her job, and started another one with more flexible hours, so she could be home more. The problem is that James isn’t a little boy anymore, and with her and Dave working, and James busy with his own life, Biscuit was still home alone half of every day.

Toni began to talk to Dave about adopting a dog, which has been something Toni had been thinking about a lot. Dave was not keen on the idea, and in reality, completely unwilling to discuss it. Nevertheless, Dave loves Toni, and wants her to be happy, so when she pursued it, he let her begin the process. And a process it really was. Toni had been looking at rescue dogs for about a month after getting Biscuit, but couldn’t find any in our local area that were young and smaller. To make matters worse, for any surrounding areas, such as Colorado Montana or South Dakota, you had to fill out an application send references and pictures of your house each and every time you saw a dog would become available that you would be interested in. Toni filled out 37 applications and only got two responses back. One response said that her application was in the top two, but they had picked another family based on the location. The same lady that turned them down, suggested that they try the iRescue website, out of Boulder Colorado, so Toni went on their site and picked several different small young dogs that she would be interested in adopting…again filling out an application for each one, sending pictures of her house, and references for each one. She was a bit stunned when she got a call on one of the dogs they had available. However, it wasn’t a dog that she had shown interest in. The dog that she suggested would be a good fit for their family was a Carne Terrier mix female named Flower. It took only one look for Toni to fall in love, but she still had to talk Dave into wanting her too. Just the night before, Dave had told her to quit looking at rescue dogs, because they weren’t getting another dog. Toni couldn’t get Flower off of her mind, so she downloaded the pathetic little pictures of Flower that were taken when she was captured and being held in a high kill shelter in New Mexico.

Toni decided to try a different strategy. She sent Dave an email, including the pictures of this poor little dog. She told Dave that she was the number one pick of 37 applicants to rescue this dog who was due to be put down in 48 hours. She explained that they would have to pick her up in Boulder that Saturday…if Dave was agreeable to adopting her, and that in order to adopt her they had to sign a commitment agreement by 5:00 that evening and send the funds within 24 hours of signing the commitment agreement before they would ship her from New Mexico to Boulder. She also explained to him they were little Flower’s last hope.

Toni had planned to give Dave some time, and talk to him at 4:30 to try to persuade him, but Dave responded back with a phone call in less than 5 minutes, saying, “Do you like her?” Toni said, “Yes, and he said okay call her back and tell her that we will come and get her.” He would wire the funds right away. Flower would become Cricket, and she would become theirs. These puppy babies brought nothing but joy to Toni, Dave, and James. And on a side note, James has been spending a bit more time at home too, easing the empty nest syndrome Toni has had.

Funny thing, Dave didn’t want any more dogs…not Biscuit or Cricket at first, but now he loves them just as much as Toni does, and in fact Cricket has turned out to be his sweet little dog, but Toni gets to share, I guess. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In many ways, my nephew, Tucker Birky is a typical eleven year old boy. He loves to do all the goofy things that make those who know him laugh hysterically. There is almost nothing that is off limits when it comes to ways to make people laugh. He might eat candy in such a way as to make green lips, and the grin impishly. Hi might put something funny on, like funny glasses, a wrapping paper hat, or just a funny face, Tucker is up for it. It’s all about getting the laugh from his audience. That is Tucker…and that’s what makes everybody love Tucker. He is always happy and smiling. He does like looking good, and recently discovered what a difference a haircut can make in a guys appearance.

While Tucker is a funny guy, when it comes to his studies, he is all business. Tucker reads at the ninth grade level, even though he is only in 5th grade. Tucker is also top of his class of 30 students in piano. Tucker isn’t into sports much, but would rather play Fortnight on his Xbox, play with his dogs, or help his dad, my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg with things in the garage or doing the chores. He likes splitting wood, and helps his mom, my sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg with chores too, but my guess is that he doesn’t like those as much as the ones that ate “man’s work” chores. Tucker is a candy-holic, and if they would let him, his favorite breakfast would be…you guessed it, candy. It doesn’t matter that he has braces now, if he thinks he can get away with it, he will eat candy.

Tucker has recently decided that he likes listening to music, and sometimes likes to have it turned up very loud in the car, with all the windows down. I’m not sure what the purpose of the windows being down is, but maybe so he can share his tunes with anyone in the general vicinity. Tucker loves his mom, and is learning to cook. It is something they can do together. While Tucker might not be the biggest kid in his class, he has a heart that can rival any one of them. Today is Tucker’s 11th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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!!

In my niece, Elizabeth “Liz” Masterson’s 14 year teaching career she has molded the minds of about 1680 students. I’m sure that there were some students she couldn’t change much, but many others have been forever changed for the better because of Liz’s teaching abilities. Of course, there are always those special students…who really pull out the best Liz has to give. Those students have stayed friends with Liz since they were students. She has been invited to their weddings, baby showers, and they have remained friends on Facebook, because Liz is the kind of teacher they never want to forget.

Many of her students call Liz, Mast or Miss Mast. It isn’t a derogatory name, but rather a show of respect. It is, of course, the first part of her last name, but the respect is in the way the students say the name. Liz likes the name so much that she even named her photography sideline business, Miss Mast Photography. I think it is a term that shows her how much they like her as a teacher, and that shows in the lifelong friendships she has made with her students.

Liz is an amazing teacher, and she is interested in so many things. Her students see how passionate she is about teaching, an how knowledgeable she is on the subjects she teaches. I have had the opportunity to listen to Liz as she talked about the yearly Holocaust section she does, and as she spoke, I found myself shocked at how much she knew. I always thought of myself as pretty knowledgeable about the Holocaust, but I am finding out that she could easily teach me quite a bit. I think that is what you get when you combine an inquisitive mind with a teacher. Liz is a great teacher, and her students will tell you that she definitely makes learning fun. I wish I could have had Liz be my teacher, but that would have been impossible, unless she decides to leave the high school arena, and teach college, and I took a class.

Liz is also mom to her four little Fur Babies…dogs, Luka, Scout and Buffy, and her cat, Piper…AKA Kitty. Liz is as good a mommy as she is a teacher. If her babies are spoiled, it is with love. They have to be at the house alone during the day, while Liz is working, so at night she really hates to leave them alone. If she has to be at an event, she usually takes the dogs to her mom, my sister Cheryl Masterson’s house, so she can babysit them. And they totally love that she does that. I think it makes them feel very special. Kitty stays home, because she likes the peace and quiet for a while. Yes, I guess they are just a little bit spoiled, but she likes to think she is molding their minds too. Today is Liz’s birthday. Happy birthday Liz!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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