Whether you consider Valentine’s Day to be a highly commercialized day, geared toward getting the consumer to spend a bunch of money on silliness, or you see it as a day set aside to celebrate love, everyone who has loved ones in their life, has to deal with it in some way. Perhaps deal with it is a poor choice of words, but there are those who feel like that is exactly what the day is all about…and they have loved ones too. Of course, those same people feel like Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all the others are the same commercialized money trap. I don’t really get that. Why not have a day here and there to celebrate the people who have blessed your life? After all, where would your life be without those wonderful people in it. Sometimes, I think people take their family so much for granted, that they forget how blessed they truly are.
I get that we are all busy. In fact, that is one reason why we should embrace these days. They remind us to take a moment out of our busy, hectic lives and remember the people who are always there for us…through thick and thin, and I don’t mean just our spouse. Our parents have given up many things to make a better life for their kids; our siblings basically guarantee that we always have friends; our kids, in whose eyes, we can do no wrong…at least when they are little. We have all of these people, who show us so much love, and then we complain about having to buy them a little box of candy or flowers!! What does that say about us?
There are also marriages and families that are a little bit more unconventional, who do things like dinner, or handmade gifts, and in reality it is not the gift that counts, but the thought…the sentiment…the love. And most of all, it’s about showing how much they are loved, because after all, it’s the love that matters. And since it is the love that matters, why not show it.
Every year, right before Valentine’s Day, men begin the sometimes stress filled process of making sure that the gift they get for their girl, be it wife or girlfriend, is the right thing. They don’t know if they should get chocolates, flowers, diamonds, stuffed toys, or something else. They just know that they want to make their girl happy. They want her to feel loved. In my almost 42 years of marriage to my husband, Bob Schulenberg, I have received all of the above gifts, and many others, along with a nice dinner out each year to celebrate our love, but I have to say, that while it’s nice to get those things and I love him for doing it, in all reality, it’s not about all those things. It’s about the love we have for each other. In fact, it’s all about the love. Without the love, there is no reason for all the rest of it anyway. Marriages don’t last 42 years just because the husband, wife, or both remembered the special days, although it does help…especially the anniversaries. Nevertheless, it is the love and respect that a couple shows each other in their day to day life that make the marriage great.
I like getting gifts as much as the next girl, but for me, a favorite thing is to go for long walks with Bob. We both enjoy walking and hiking, and just being together. We don’t have to talk a lot on our walks, we are just enjoying the time we spend together. We have always found ourselves going in the same direction, so to speak. Our interests are much the same, and we just enjoy each other’s company. We don’t have to have a crowd of people around us all the time to be happy, because after 42 years, we have found that we “sort of like each other” and that is all that matters.
Every marriage has it own special times. Whether you like camping, movies, dinners out with friends, or just a cozy evening at home, in the end it’s all about what makes you and your spouse happy. The main thing is being together, because lets face it, marriage is about companionship…growing old together. I want to be that little old couple walking hand in hand down the paths of life. Maybe we move a little slower than those people rushing by in a fast paced world, but the main thing is that we are on that road together. Maybe there will be storms along the way, but we can weather those, because we know the secret…it’s all about the love. Happy Valentine’s Day to the love of my life, Bob Schulenberg, and to all our friends and family.
There are all kinds of people in this world. There are the high stress movers and shakers, and then there are those people, like my niece, Cassie Iverson, who like living life at a slower pace. For many of those who love the simple life, like Cassie, that means loving all things nature. Living in northern Wyoming, with Powell’s wide open spaces, and yet the Big Horn Mountains not too far away, nature is simply all around Cassie. She loves taking photographs of flowers and wildlife, so the mix of nature around her is perfect for her hobby. Cassie has also branched out, and has taken a few family photos for friends, and of course, her family. Her work is very creative and amazing.
Being a nature girl, means that Cassie loves things like camping with her family, fishing, and horses. Cassie and her husband, Chris take their kids, Lucas and Zoey out to the river to go fishing often. Not only is fishing a great pastime, for those who like the chance to slow life down a little bit, but it is also a healthy way to feed your family without spending a lot of money. Cassie’s top priority is her family. She is a great mom and her children, while very different in their abilities, have flourished under her loving care.
As I look through Cassie’s pictures of horses, her love for them is very evident. I would not be surprised if, at some time in the future, Cassie and Chris buy a piece of land somewhere to raise their own horses. It isn’t an inexpensive venture, but I think that most people who raise horses…or even one horse, find it to be very rewarding. It is also a great hobby for the children when they are a little older, and a great way for the family to spend time together. I can see them taking the kids on a camping trip using horses as the way to get there.
I think that many of us allow our lives to get so caught up in activities, running here and there, and worrying about what everyone else thinks, that we forget to simply live…or maybe to live simply. Maybe we don’t understand just how freeing the simple life can be…but Cassie knows, because she is living that dream. Today is Cassie’s birthday. Happy birthday Cassie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
For years now, part of our Mother’s Day gift to Mom was to clean up her yard, make necessary repairs, and plant flowers in anticipation of the coming Spring. Mom had decided that she really had everything she needed, and so asked that this be our gift to her, because these were things that she could no longer do. Mom and Dad had always loved their flower gardens, planning them out every year. They always had a beautiful yard, but with Dad in Heaven and Mom’s knees the way they were, she just couldn’t give them the care they needed anymore. And yet, her yard was very important to her, because it had been important to them. We were carrying on the tradition she and Dad had started, and she wanted to be out there with us, supervising and wishing she could get down there with us, because unlike me, she loved digging in the dirt to plant the flowers that would grace her yard. It is not my thing exactly, because while I love flowers, I don’t like digging in the dirt to plant them. Nevertheless, I understand why this was what she wanted, and that makes it important to me too.
Spring will come this year, as it always does, but my mom will miss spring and Mother’s Day this year. Her house will be my sister, Cheryl’s house now. It is my hope that the tradition of planting the flower garden in the planter that Dad prepared will continue in some way. I don’t know if it will be the sisters or Cheryl’s children, but I hope we at least plant the front gardens for Mom, Dad, and Cheryl, because like it or not, Spring will come this year, as it always does, the sun will shine and the flowers will bloom, and while Mom will spend this one with Dad in Heaven, enjoying God’s amazing gardens, she would not want their gardens to miss out on God’s glorious Spring gardening season.
It is so odd to think about taking the reigns on things like this, but as my cousin Elmer Johnson said, “Just remember they taught and trained us for this day, now it’s time for you guys to take your place at the head of the table.” They did train us well. They taught us things like never go to bed angry, keep on the sunny side, and that family is so very important. They taught us to help each other and stick together, no matter what the situations of life might bring. They taught us that love never fails. No matter what people do or say to you, react to it in love, because you don’t know what they have been going through. You might be the only bright spot in their day, but only if you walk in love. Yes, when I think about all of the life lessons they taught us, I can see that they did train us very well, and while we will never get over their home going, because we miss them so very much, we will get on with life, because that is what they would want for us. We will take our place at the head of the table. We will carry on with traditions designed to keep the family close. We will honor their wishes, hopes, and dreams for us, by always sticking together, and always putting God first in our lives. Spring will come, and with it, the flowers, the sunshine, and reasons to smile again.
Life is strange sometimes. It’s pathways intertwine with the lives of different people as the journey takes us to this place and that place along life’s road. I have been amazed at how many times my life has crossed paths with different people who would become a part of my family down the road. Such was the case with my Uncle Jack McDaniels. My mother-in-law, Joann Schulenberg had done a lot of sewing for Uncle Jack’s mother, and then my father-in-law worked with Uncle Jack at Casper Concrete. In the middle of all this, Uncle Jack married my Aunt Bonnie on February 14, 1959, and became my uncle. Then I married Bob and the circle completed. It was kind of cool to know that our lives were all intertwined that way, because of how much the different people in in that circle have meant to me.
Uncle Jack was most in his element when he was at his place out in the country, along the Platte River. He loved to tinker around in his shop, and then take walks down the lane to get the mail, or just to enjoy nature. I’m sure he spent time fishing down at the river, and watching all the different wildlife that wandered around in the area.
Nevertheless, as with most families, people get busy and we don’t get to see each other as often as we would like. After a while it comes down to a family picnic and a Christmas party…along with occasionally bumping into each other around town. It’s funny how it seems like as we get older, instead of meeting our friends and family at a bar, we meet up at Walmart. At least that is where Bob and I seem to see all of our family and friends. And, that is where we saw Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Jack. It was always a treat to run into them, and get to visit and laugh together. They were always so good together and so much fun. Their love for each other was so obvious. It makes me sad that Uncle Jack is gone from us now. Today would have been Uncle Jack’s 80th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Uncle Jack. We love and miss you very much.
As Spring approached each year, my Great Aunt Bertha Schumacher seemed to blossom right along with it. Her favorite flower was the Crocus, and while I can agree that they are beautiful, the fact that they last for such a short time, makes them a flower that I hadn’t really considered as a favorite, or even given much thought to once they had faded away for another year. Nevertheless, for Bertha, Spring was a time to feel alive again. The long winter was finally over, and she and her sister, Elsa reveled in the beauty of the flowers, as they drove their horse and buggy to school in the mornings. Bertha called the drive to school, one of her wildest joys, because the Crocuses were so abundant in the fields along the road. The view must have been amazing!
The Crocuses she would see around Boulder, Colorado later in life grew much taller in the mountains there, but on the prairie, they grew in sheets, and they were magnificent. I can only imagine how amazing they must have looked along the road as the girls went to school. It would be enough to give you a horrible case of Spring Fever when you got to school, and had to try to apply yourself to your studies. The only time I can remember seeing flowers that dominated a field was when my sisters and I visited our sister Caryl in Bremerton, Washington and we took a drive up to Bellingham for the Tulip Festival. That was magnificent, so I can somewhat relate to Bertha’s feelings on so many flowers in one place.
Another of Bertha’s favorite flowers was the wild Tiger Lily, which grew in “unbelievable abundance” in the lake country near their home in the Fargo, North Dakota area. The wild Tiger Lilies grew only where the ground had not been “turned by a plow” and in the 27 years the family lived there, they saw them completely disappear. The family occasionally saw the wild Tiger Lilies when they were driving home from Minnesota. They were always so tired, and then they would come up over a hill, and there would be a whole field of them., They got so excited. They stopped to pick some of them, and then go to enjoy them for days.
The only spring plant that Bertha thought was a worthy rival to the crocuses and lilies, was her mother’s strawberry plants. the strawberries were planted at the edge of the garden so they could be easily picked, and often the early ones were picked and eaten long before the main harvest. The strawberries grew so large that they could not hide among the leaves and were easy to see. Of course, as with any garden, there was weeding to do, but nobody seemed to mind, because as they worked, they were reminded of the luscious harvest to come. Great Aunt Bertha, and her sister, Elsa loved to garden in her later years too, and tried to transplant some of the wild Tiger Lilies and the wild Crocuses into their own garden in Boulder, but they just wouldn’t grow. I guess that some flowers will only grow where they choose, and not where we wish they would…unfortunately.
You’ve seen them…hollyhocks. They are a flower that some might even consider to be a weed, and they sure grow like one. They seem to grow well in yards or alleys…with little water or with plenty of water. The fact that their flowers are abundant the length of their stalk, and that the buds are as abundant as the flowers, is I suppose what attracted us to them. Of course, we were taught never to pick the flowers in someone’s garden, so the fact that these flowers were often in alleys made them more readily available. Whatever it was, my sisters and friends and I used to pick these flowers and then because of their very short stem, found that they didn’t make very good bouquets.
It seemed such a waste to pick these pretty flowers, just to throw them away, so we tried to find something to do with them…finally inventing the Hollyhock Doll. It wasn’t one of the summertime things we did for very many years, nor was it one of the coolest summertime things we did as children, but while I was walking along the trail near my house, and saw some Hollyhocks behind a house along the trail, the memory of our summertime school holidays and the making of Hollyhock dolls came to mind again.
Of course, it wasn’t just a memory of making Hollyhock dolls, but the chance to look back in time a little bit to a time that was so much more simple, that really drew me to the pretty flowers. As we grow up, and responsibilities force their way into our lives, the simple days of childhood get pushed to the background of our memories. Gone are the days of laying around in the backyard, sun tanning, and the afternoons spent at the local swimming pool. Now we get up every morning and go to work, take care of the responsibilities life has handed us, whether they be our children or caring for elderly parents. Our time is no longer our own to do with as we please. That freedom we had as kids is such a fleeting time in our lives, and yet none of us could wait to be grown up. Now we just wish we could go back and be kids again…for a little bit anyway, because no one really wants to relive their childhood, but rather just go back for an occasional visit.
Thinking back, the next day as I once again noticed Hollyhocks at the edge of the parking lot at work, I couldn’t resist the urge to pick the necessary parts of the flowers for the purpose of making just one more Hollyhock doll. I picked a flower and a bud, and brought them home. It took seconds to put them together, but the memory of the summertime fun we had, has lingered for days. It never was the Hollyhock Dolls that defined summer for me as a kid, but they were a reminder of the summertime fun we had as kids. I guess that’s why the flowers have always held a place of honor in my memory files.
For centuries moms have been trying to find new ways to add bling to their daughters look. Maybe it wasn’t always called bling, but moms of daughters know that if you don’t add bling, everyone thinks you had a son…and there is nothing worse than having people think that your little princess is being mistaken for a prince. It’s really never to early to add bling to your little girl’s look, and the options are endless, but there have been some things that have evolved over the years. One of them is the headband…or bow, as it probably started out to be.
When my girls were babies, they didn’t make headbands for babies. I was told to use corn syrup to hold a little bow on their heads so they looked like girls…not that corn syrup worked, but I gave it a try. I decided to put bonnets on my girls, because I couldn’t make anything work to keep a bow on their head, until they finally had enough hair to use a teeny rubber band and whatever ribbon was handy…gift wrap worked quite well. Needless to say, they wore bonnets for a long time.
Headbands have changed a lot over the years, and the modern baby headband is probably the most stylish of them all. These days baby girls can wear anything from bows, to flowers, to their parents team colors, but in the twenties, headbands looked a little bit like the sweatband that people used to wear a lot to control sweat on the forehead during workouts. I’m sure the people living in the twenties thought they were very stylish, but to me they looked a bit like a devise used for carrying baskets of food from the market in some of the Middle East countries. The band often has big bows on the sides, and it makes the little girl’s head look huge…but that’s just my opinion.
There is nothing new about headbands and other bling, except the name. I remember putting nail polish on my kids and granddaughter’s nails at a very young age. They loved it. It made them feel pretty, and as all women know, that is the name of the game. I don’t think it is even as important to look pretty to others, as much as it is to feel pretty to ourselves. When you wake up, and nothing works with your look, it makes you feel…well, blah!!! It is a completely unacceptable feeling, and when you add a little bling, it just improves the whole look. And it doesn’t matter if you are 1 month or 80 years old. Girls…very simply…like bling!!
As a kid, Alena was always just a little bit of a prankster. She loved pulling practical jokes on the rest of us, like the time she kicked a metal Chinese Checkers board that was beside the metal frame if her bed, causing all of us to think that someone had kicked in the big window in our living room, and our parents weren’t home. As we all scrambled around trying to figure out what was going on, Alena was laughing hysterically at the chaos she had created.
Alena always found humor in the things that most of us try to pretend we don’t laugh at. Things like tripping and falling on your face, would find Alena laughing in her shirt sleeve, while trying not to be obvious. Of course, after you picked yourself up off the floor, you had to admit that it did look pretty funny, and in reality, you had to admit that you laughed at the same things, only you left the room so no one would notice.
Of course, not everything Alena did was pranking and laughing. Every year she helps our mom plant her gardens for the summer, and pulls the old dead stuff out for her. When she gets done, the gardens look great. Gardening has never been my thing, so I’m happy to let Alena do those, and she seems to like it. She has a knack for design. The flowers are always perfectly arranged. I guess having a knack is important when it comes to flower beds.
Alena also has a flair for decorating. Not everyone can decorate and have it really look elegant, but Alena can. She uses things like wall paper or border, and bright colored paint that most of us would worry about using, for fear of it being too bright or too dark. I have often found myself wishing that I had the same flair for decorating that she has. When you have seen her house, it is easy to come home and thinks that your own house is…maybe a little boring, and you can’t do much about it either…unless you can get her to your house.
From a love of pranking, as a kid, to a love of decorating, as an adult, Alena has changed a lot over the years…I think. I’m pretty sure she still like those pranks quite a bit, and I have a feeling she still laughs when someone face plants in front of her, but she might be a little better at hiding it now. Today is Alena’s birthday. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
Every year, there comes a day…usually in the early Spring…around mid-April, that can only be called Slap Day. No, I’m not saying that everyone should go slap someone, or even that the weather makes you want to slap someone. Although, maybe it does, when they say something like, “We need the moisture.” I mean, we all know that we need the moisture, but it could snow on the mountain, and rain down here. That is what we are supposed to get in the Spring, right? Rain!! I know that the weather isn’t their fault, and they are just trying to look on the bright side. Still it is just so annoying to me, that after enjoying the crocuses and daffodils in your yard…that is starting to turn green…suddenly you can’t find your yard…much less enjoy any flowers. No self respecting flower would come out in this kind of weather, anyway!! I mean, they are delicate!!
I try not to complain, but when Winter pulls such a cruel joke on Spring, I have to draw the line. It seems to me that Winter is enough of a bully to all of us, but when it has to go out and start picking on Spring, who is really just a newborn, after all…well, I get ticked. And, as if that was not enough, Winter doesn’t just throw this whole bullying thing at Spring, he is slapping me with it too. I don’t get it. I have tried to be patient. I have tried to look at snow and cold as just a part of the changing of the seasons. But, lets get them changed already!! What’s up with all of this back and forth. Spring officially arrived on March 20th, after all. That was weeks ago!! And prior to the trusty ground hog’s ridiculous prediction of an early Spring, we had a pretty easy Winter going. You see, once old Punxsutawney Phil decided it was going to start getting nice early for once…well, Winter decided to cut loose. That is the last time I listen to old Punxsutawney Phil…thank you!!
So, all ranting aside, I will just have to look on the bright side, which is impossible to avoid, especially when the sun hits all that snow…and say that yes, we need the moisture, and I’m sure that when this all melts I’ll be glad we got some. And in a few days, I suppose I’ll be able to forget this cruel trick, and move on into Spring with a smile. My annoyance will subside, and the Spring flowers will put joy back into my heart. Yes, I’ll get over Slap Day, but let me tell you this…Old Man Winter…I will not quickly forget your cruel ways.