fall

img_507414523213_10207439348077800_5279092986944906000_nEvery bride-to-be dreams of a perfect wedding day. Yesterday, that dream came true for my grand niece, Katy Balcerzak, when she married her soul mate, Jacob Collett. Their outdoor wedding was given a perfect sunny day, and the fall colors that were the theme of the wedding gave a beautiful brightness to the entire park. The sun shone brightly, and the day was warm…especially for fall, like Indian Summer, perfect. Katy and Jake have been soul mates for some time now, and the next logical step was to unite in marriage. The planning took a number of months, but it was well worth it when the day finally arrived. Katy was the bride with her perfect wedding day. Every aspect of her special day, with her special man, Jake was a perfect as it could be.
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Katy is the youngest child of my niece, Chantel Balcerzak’s husband Dave. She was just a teeny little girl, the first time I met her. I remember just how much she loved her daddy, and just how cute she was. It was a picnic on the mountain, and we all had a wonderful time. Katy, and Chantel’s daughter, Siara Harman were great friends, and in fact, Siara was one of Katy’s bridesmaids on her special day. The position of man of honor, however fell to Katy’s best friend…her brother, Kiefer. Katy, along with her brother, Kiefer were a great addition to Chantel’s blended family with Dave. Chantel’s son Jake Harman, rounded out the four blended siblings. Now Katy, like all the other kids, is all grown up, and ready to start the next 14495382_10207439351717891_2067450362949069240_n14449817_10207439354197953_1569839502020090458_nturn in life’s road…marriage. This is a journey, Katy and Jake have been planning on and looking forward to for a long time.

Her journey through a life of love is just beginning, and oh what a beginning it was. The reception was as beautiful as the wedding. Katy loves pumpkins, and really pretty much everything about the month of October. No wonder she chose that month for her wedding. Of course, Katy and Jake also love outdoor sports, and so the grooms cake had to be a truck…didn’t it? It wouldn’t have been Katy and Jake without it. Jake, welcome to the family. We wish both Katy and Jake a long and happy life. Congratulations to both of you!!

scan0044 Robert & Debbie Schulenberg - 1968Every year, I dread the beginning of winter. It doesn’t matter how late it starts, I still wish it was over the minute it begins. I know that many people would say, why do you live where you do, and to that I say…it is where I have always lived…or at least since I was three years old. Before that, up until I was three years old, I lived in Superior, Wisconsin, and I must say that the weather there would have been worse than the winters here, so I have moved to a better place…sort of. Don’t get me wrong…I love Wyoming. It is my home, and in the fall, spring, and summer, I am perfectly happy here. I would just love to eliminate winter all together. I can’t say that I always felt that way about winter, because as a kid, I probably didn’t. I think our parents had no trouble getting my sisters and me to go outside and make snowmen, or snow angels, or build a fort and have a snowball fight. It’s what kids do. In reality it seems like winter bothers us more and more, the older we get. Even my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who loves winter, really has no true desire to be out in it. She likes the beauty of it and the coolness of the air, but shoveling snow or driving in snow…not so much.

I guess it is a good thing that our lives have seasons too, because if they didn’t, I doubt if anyone would ever do those fun things that kids do in winter. If we all felt the way I do about winter right now, I suppose we would move to a different place every six months or so. That, of course is the snowbird stage of life, except that it would be something that happened much more often, and that is what I would be, were it not for my obligations here. For me, there is a love/hate relationship with the changing seasons. When spring rolls around, I will start to feel alive again, just like the flowers, trees, and birds. My heart sings as the warmer weather approaches, and I feel like hibernating during the colder months. The odd thing too, is that I love winter scenes…in pictures, but in reality, I have no desire to be there…just to look, and then to go out in the warm summer weather I truly love.

Perhaps I need to consider what the difference was when I was a child, and I really did like going out into the snowy weather. Was it that I didn’t mind the cold, or that I didn’t mind dressing for it? Is it that I have scan0044 (6)imageforgotten how to play? Probably, that is it. In fact the last time I can say that I really played was when my grandchildren were little. I think it would be great if I could travel back in time those 15 or so years to when I would gladly have gone out in the snow with my grandchildren, because…well, I would do just about anything for them. I suppose that even then I can’t say I loved the cold, but I did have a great time playing with those grandchildren…even if it was cold. I can’t go back in time, so here I am at the beginning of another winter. The snow has arrived, the cold is here…and so it begins.

Leaf Tracks 1With the Indian Summer we had this year, came a late fall…which collided with winter the other day. Usually winter snow and leaves still on the trees, spells disaster for the trees, but not this time. The weather had cooled down enough to where many if the trees were bare, and those that weren’t, had a lot less leaves than last year when we got an early storm that broke many of our trees. This frigid cold weather, and the subsiquent storm, brought snow that was much more of the powder variety, and maybe that’s why the few trees that had leaves on them were able to stand against the snow.

The thing that makes this storm so unusual is that with most snow storms here, the leaves have either been raked up and disposed of, or they are under the snow. Not so this storm. Because we had an abundance of leaves still lingering on the trees, the wind that followed the storm, deposited them on top of the snow on the ground.
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As I was looking out the window this morning, I noticed that there was a trail of leaves running across my lawn. The snow was slightly melted around them, creating…well, leaf tracks. I know that makes no sense, and that most likely, an animal walked across our yard, leaving the tracks. The problem with that thought is that the tracks really didn’t go anywhere. If an animal had gone across the yard, it was either very careful to back track in the same foot prints it had made, or it left the yard by some way that I couldn’t see. All I could see was leaves in every one of the imprints. As far as I’m concerned, those are leaf tracks.

You can think what you like, and you can even wonder what goofy thing I will think of next. I can’t say, because I don’t set out to dream this up, it just hits me that way. I have deer in my yard all the time, as well as cats, dogs, and even raccoons, so it could be that one of those made the tracks, but I like the idea of leaf tracks. It lends a little bit of something special to the scene I saw.
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It’s funny that the snow can melt in such a way as to create something that really can’t happen and makes no sense anyway, but it does. Maybe it had the help of the leaves laying across it in such a way that it looked like a trail, or maybe it’s all in my imagination, but either way, I like the effect. There they are, leaf tracks surrounded by snow diamonds. It’s such a pretty sight, and it puts a smile on my face in an otherwise dreary day. Maybe my analogy is silly, but sometimes we need a little silliness in our lives and I think leaf tracks works perfectly. So the next time you see leaves on top of the snow, look carefully to see if any of them left their tracks across the snow, and you too might be pleasantly surprised by leaf tracks.

Fall Colors I10690246_10203971981118776_1956772674234253039_nAfter last year’s unusually hard Winter, with weather patterns that were dubbed Polar Vortex, I was not too keen on the idea of a repeat performance this year. Thankfully, I have been treated to the Indian Summer that I remember from my youth. Of course, we didn’t get an Indian Summer every year, but when we did, the neighborhood kids all celebrated. September always brought with it cooler weather, school, and the dreaded homework that came with it. It always seemed like having that hit all at the same time was really a very cruel joke on the kids. But occasionally, we got a year that made a lot of us feel a lot better about the coming Winter.

This has been such a year. With temperatures in the high 60s and into the 70s, more people have been spending evenings and weekends outdoors, enjoying the unusual warmth. Oh, I don’t say that jackets are unnecessary, but you wear them mostly in the morning and you find yourself taking them off a lot too. Kids are out on their skateboards, scooters, and bicycles enjoying the last few evenings during which they can play outdoors for a good part of the evening…at least until they have to go get their homework done.

For me, Indian Summer means a reprieve…if only for a short time…for the drudgery of Winter, while also giving a break from the worst of the Summer heat. I used to be a serious Summer person, but these days, I like the temperatures to be in the 70s and 80s, not the 90s and 100s. I know that my sister, Cheryl Masterson will still call 70s and 80s serious Summer heat, but I can’t agree with her there. Early Fall and late Spring are my ideal times of the year…provided that the fall is not too cool and the spring is not too rainy.

Indian Summer is said to be a time of unseasonably warm weather and little wind…but I doubt if they had seen Indian Summer in Casper, Wyoming, because we definitely have wind. I can deal with that too, as long as it’s not too cold. With this years lovely Indian Summer weather, and the opportunities to get out and hike some, I am feeling a lot less of the affects Winter brings on me, but then we are still on Daylight Savings Time until the Fall Colors II10659240_10203972000239254_4273656310780623661_nend of this week. I’m sure that after that the normal affects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) will begin to rear their ugly heads. For that, I simply have to spend as much time as I can in the sun, and keep telling myself that December 22 is coming, and with it, comes the beginning of the move toward the longest day of the year…one of my favorite days. I know that like every season, Indian Summer will pass, and Winter will pounce on us, as it always does, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy every moment and every bit of warmth of the Indian Summer that we have been treated to.

Max SchulenbergRecently, my interest turned to the ancestry of the Schulenberg side of my family, when I was contacted by a more famous member of the family, who I will not name at this point, as I have not asked his permission to do so, and so I will respect his privacy. He wondered if we might be related, and I told him that I expected that we probably are. Since that time, I have been looking back on that side of the family. I knew that our side of the Schulenberg family came to America aboard the SS Moltke in 1895, when Max Heinrich Johann Carl Schulenberg arrived on that ship at the tender age of 17 years, without an adult to accompany him…a bold move for a young man. He arrived in New York City, like so many other immigrants. Before too long he had made his way to Blair,Nebraska, where he met and married Julia Doll on December 16, 1902. The couple would have ten children, the oldest of which was Andrew, my husband, Bob’s grandfather. The family would eventually settle in Forsyth, Montana, where there are still family members living to this day.

But what of the German half of the Schulenberg family. They had a longstanding heritage in Oldenburg, Germany, where the family owned a farm since 1705, when the first known Schulenberg owner,SS Moltke Johann Schulenberg shows up in records as the owner. The farm was rather large and still stands to this day. It has been well maintained, and is in fact, more beautiful today than it was when Johann owned it. I’m sure that has to do with all the modern equipment and products we have today to enhance the natural beauty of a home and its grounds. Nevertheless, the farm was a productive place in 1705 too.

The furthest record of the family line that I have found to date is Vitter Schulenberg, who actually hailed from Schulenberg, Germany, where I expect the family originated, because as most of us know, before last names existed, people were known by the town they came from, such as Jesus of Nazareth. The Schulenberg family had been known in prior years as von der Schulenberg, which translates from Schulenberg, meaning the town of Schulenberg, Germany which is located in the district of Goslar in Lower Saxony, Germany, I don’t know if those people whose last name is spelled Schulenburg came from the same family or not, but I would expect that it is quite likely, because when people came to America, they were told to Old Schulenberg, GermanyAmericanize their name, and there was no regulation as to how to do that, so some went one way and others went another way.

I also found out that there was an older village of Schulenberg, which only appears in the fall, when the lake is at its lowest point. The lake (der Okertalsperre) or reservoir which was constructed in 1953, resulting in the flooding of the old village. That fascinated me. I found this picture of the ruins on Google Earth (taken by Harz Geist), and either there is not much left of the old village, or it was very small, which almost makes me wonder if it was originally a farm named Schulenberg, that grew into a village…but that is the subject of another story, for another day.  

scan0010 (3)Lately, I’ve been noticing the changes in our weather that are all too familiar this time of year. It’s a feeling of fall. Even though I don’t dislike fall the way I used to, I still feel a little twinge of regret that summer is over. Still, as much as I used to love summer, these days it just feels too hot sometimes. I have started liking the cooler weather of spring and fall…winter, well I think I’ll always hate winter, except in pictures, or from inside the house.

Liking or not liking the coming fall and winter aside, I nevertheless recall some of the trips Bob and I took in the fall. Our girls were small them, so school was not a problem. We really liked those fall vacations, because there were less people traveling then…less people on the road, and less people at the places we wanted to go. The changing leaves were pretty, even though we don’t get the brilliant colors that occur in other areas of the country.

The year Corrie was born, however, we took a trip to Wisconsin to visit my Uncle Bill’s family. I will never forget the beauty of the Wisconsin fall. My only regret is that the cameras back them could not capture the beauty of it all like the ones we have now. Nevertheless, there was a definite red color. I thought back to some of the pictures my parents took of the area during their years of living in Wisconsin. The pictures are in black Unknown Lake in the Falland white, of course. The only way to see the beauty of the multi colored fall trees, is to have been there and to carry the memory of the colors. That way you could look at the pictures and add the color with your imagination. That is the way it is with all the black and white pictures of that era…sadly.

Now that our children are grown, the possibility of fall vacations again presents itself. I know I would love to go to areas of the country that have the trees that turn a firey red, and some yellow mixed in. With today’s cameras, the pictures of fall back east would be stunning. I think I might have to plan just such a trip in the near future.

JoshSometimes, in the life of a child, a situation arises that brings out the extraordinary in that child. And even if what the child is doing, isn’t something so unusual, the actions of the child are still extraordinary. I have seen the extraordinary in all 4 of my grandchildren over the past 7 years of caring for 2 sets of their great grandparents, but this current situation is about my grandson, Josh. Josh is my youngest grandson, and he has been the one who has been able to help in the current care of his grandparents, because at 14, he is too young to have a traditional job. Tradition has certainly not played a part in the work that Josh does every week. Most 14 year old kids think only of playing video games or hanging out with their friends, but not Josh. He wants to go to his grandparents’ house every time he gets the chance. And he doesn’t just sit and visit, he wants in on the work…although it isn’t work to him…it is Mom Schulenberglove for his grandparents.

Because, Josh has been more available to help in the care of his grandparents, he has had the chance to bond with them in a way few of the grandchildren have been able to do. His care and concern over their well being is so touching. Recently we had to put my mother-in-law, his great grandma in a nursing home, after she took a bad fall. It was the second of two falls in less than a week. Falls, are probably the worst thing that can happen to the elderly, but we were blessed in that she did not break a single bone. She did, however, tear the skin on her left arm badly. We took her to the hospital by ambulance, and from there she went to the nursing home. Josh wanted to know all about the nursing home. especially where it is. When his mom, my daughter, Corrie told him that it was in Paradise Valley, he said, “No, Mom!! No!! That won’t work!! That is too far from the hospital!! What if she falls?” Of course, once Corrie told him that there were nurses and Walt SchulenbergCNAs on staff at the nursing home, he felt much better. He knew she was safe. He loves her dearly, and Josh has made her safety a top priority for some time now.

Josh comes with us to see his great grandma as much as he is able to, but now he has shifted his caregiving skills to his great grandpa. He is such a loving, caring boy, and his dedication to his great grandparents has endeared him to them all. He helps, my mom, his great grandma at church, to get up and get to her car, and anything else she needs, and he helps with the care of his great grandpa, my father-in-law, every chance he gets to get over there. I am very proud of Josh, and his caregiver’s heart.

After what was a miserably hot Summer in Wyoming, as in much of the United States, Fall has finally arrived. It’s hard to believe that after praying for rain most of the Summer, we have had rain 3 times this week. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it would have been nice to get some of this rain in the Summer. Nevertheless, the cooler temperatures are finally here, as are the colors of Fall that we all love to see. While I usually say that Summer is my favorite season, and that is still true, this Summer has been so hot, that it was miserable, so for this year only, I think Fall might be my favorite.

While I probably won’t have any more time to get out and walk in this lovely Fall weather, I will do my best. The changing leaves are so pretty, even if we don’t have much of the gorgeous reds that you see back East, the green to yellow is also lovely…especially when those bright colors stretch as far as the eye can see. It looks like the sun landed in the trees.

Fall always brings memories of buying school supplies and clothes, of course that was back when it was closer to Fall when school started, and not still Summer, like these days. It also brings the realization that with Summer’s end and Fall’s beginning, Winter is not far behind. There has even been talk of snow on Wednesday. It always seems like Fall is mixed with Winter in Wyoming, which I wish would not be the case. The changing of the seasons might not seem so bad if they each took their turns. Winter simply needs to understand that it is not supposed to arrive until December 21, so what is with snow before that. Rain I don’t mind, but the snow should wait its turn.

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t ask me what I think of it, so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter to it much. All I can do is try to get out and enjoy the Fall weather, before the season slips past me as Summer appears to have done. Like it or not…ready or not…here comes Fall!

Some old pictures are classics, like a picture of your grandfather with only part of the nine kids he and your grandmother had. It’s strange to see Grandpa so young, and if your parent is in the picture, like mine is, seeing your mom or dad that young is really odd, unless you have seen a lot of those really old pictures, which I had not. Their children, Evelyn, Virginia, Delores, Larry, Collene, and Wayne (the baby being held by Evelyn), born in that order, surround their Dad. It looks to me like they were on one of their many outings, most likely rock hunting, which was a favorite pass time for the whole family, although Aunt Evelyn doesn’t looks so happy…probably because, Uncle Wayne is crying, or so it looks to me.

It must have been taken in the Fall or Spring, because everyone is wearing coats. I was looking at my mom, who is the little girl Grandpa has his hand on, and I thought it was interesting that her hat looked like some worn by little immigrant girls on the Titanic. That interests me, because my grandfather’s dad immigrated from Russia, and Mom reminds me of that era, but I could be wrong on that thought. Of course, my grandfather’s mom was born in the United States, and Great Grandpa Byer was gone by the time my mom was born, so any similarity is probably accidental. I wish I could have known him.

I think it is interesting that the children are recognizable to me, even my mom, who is actually looking down a bit. There is just enough of her face for me to tell without a doubt that it is my mom. We all think that children change so much from the time they are little to the time they are grown, but the more I look at pictures, the more I realize that it isn’t so. Those little faces are smaller, but the features are the same, and while some might look quite a bit different, many really don’t.

As a little boy, just learning to walk, my grandson, Caalab reminded me so much of his mom. Amy took those first teetering steps…about two of them, and from that point on, she ran. She didn’t have time to walk…she had places to go. Caalab was just like that, with one small exception. When Amy started walking/running, I found that getting those cute pictures of the baby plopping down on the ground because they couldn’t balance very well yet, were next to impossible. Amy just didn’t fall.

Caalab on the other hand was a fall waiting to happen. It wasn’t because his balance was off or anything, but rather because he simply got ahead of himself…or should I say, ahead of his own feet. When Caalab wanted to get from point A to point B, he always felt that doing so as fast as possible was the way to go, and in his mind it seemed like a good plan. But, as is often the way with plans…they just don’t work out quite like we saw them in our heads.

When Caalab would start across the room, his upper body was always way ahead of his feet. So much so, in fact, that it wasn’t that it was so far to fall that concerned us, but rather what was going to hit first. As you might have guessed, it was usually his head that hit first, and with uncanny accuracy, as if he was aiming for the sharpest corner in the room, or the decorative handle that might do the most damage.

It wasn’t that Caalab was clumsy, because he definitely isn’t, and really never was. Caalab was just in a hurry. He wanted to see everything, go everywhere, and do everything…now!! He would get so excited, and even though he had run into things head first before, he would still take off at break neck speed, and the next thing you knew, there he was…sporting a new bruise or cut…usually on his forehead. These little boo boo’s were the direct result of head meeting stationary object…always followed by very loud screaming and crying from little boy. Every time there was a new boo boo, I could almost feel the pain, but once his little boo boo was bandaged and/or kissed, Caalab was all better, and off again.

Thankfully those early walking years gave way to the years of far fewer bruises. Caalab learned how to keep his feet caught up with his head. He is still in a hurry a lot of the time, but we don’t have to consider a full time football helmet for him anymore.

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