garden

The last two weeks of August were spend visiting our daughter, Amy Royce and her family. In my thoughts throughout the visit was the fact that their 26th wedding anniversary was just around the corner. I found myself thinking that it was amazing that they could have been married 26 years already. I also found myself thinking about just how happy and connected they are with each other. They are loving their life and their home, and it was a pleasure to watch them together. Their marriage has been blessed with two beautiful children and now the family is growing to include Caalab’s girlfriend, Chloe Foster…a beautiful girl and a great blessing to us. I love how their family gets together every week to spend quality time together. It makes their marriage and their family more and more rich in love and happiness.

When your kids get married, you hope the marriage will last, and you know that there are never any guarantees, but you want the very best for them, and that means a happy marriage. I am so thankful that these two “kids,” while young at marriage (18 and 19 years) were able to beat the odds and stay married. Not only that, but they were able to build a beautiful life together and raise two beautiful children, Shai and Caalab, together. They are so blessed and they are a blessing to us. We can’t imagine life without the two of them as a couple. Every year, their love grows more and more rich and beautiful.

Whenever we go to visit them, or they come to visit here, we have a wonderful time. They are fun-loving people, and yet they love being at their house, enjoying their beautiful back yard too. They have worked hard on their back yard, and every time I get new pictures, I love it even more. Amy never could get flowers to do much in Wyoming, but in Washington, her garden and flowers are stunning. Travis has always loved yard work, but like most men, prefers mowing the grass to planting flowers. Nevertheless, they have a wonderful vision for their yard, and it is so restful and peaceful. I just love sitting back there, enjoying the day. Travis loves to barbecue and their guests are, of course, the beneficiaries of his grilling abilities. They also love playing games like pool and corn hole, as well as getting the family bank together for a jam session in their recreation room. It is a wonderfully fun time listening to Travis and Caalab play, while Shai and sometimes Amy sing for us. They really make a beautiful band.

Amy and Travis love going to Ilwaco, Washington for little getaways. It is a quaint little town located across the bay from Astoria, Oregon. They go there a lot, much like Bob and I go to Thermopolis, here in Wyoming a lot. It is a place that is close enough for an anniversary getaway, and yet special enough for them always have a great time, and never get tired of it. Ilwaco is a little town, kind of like Thermopolis, but sometimes that is just what you need. A place with the much needed peace and quiet, far away from the stresses of daily life and the busy lifestyle you have at home. A cute little place where you can have romantic dinners and quiet walks along the shore (a river for us and the ocean for them). It’s just perfect for this happily married couple. Today is Amy and Travis’ 26th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary to you both!! We love you very much!!

I asked my brother-in-law, LJ Cook’s daughter, Susan Griffith to tell me what he has been up to lately, and she said that one thing her dad is really good at is gardening. That came as a surprise to me. I guess I just never thought he was the gardening type. Nevertheless, people do surprise you sometimes. LJ is especially proud of his tomato plants, cucumbers, zucchini, and asparagus. He has his garden set up, using technology, to water itself, which takes care on one step. Still, there is a lot more that goes into getting a great garden. The soil has to be the right mix, and that isn’t easy. And then there are the weeds. Pulling weeds is the pits, but somehow, LJ’s garden never has weeds. Susan and I don’t seem to have that knack. I guess it is a talent that only certain people have.

When LJ retired, he wanted to set up his garage into kind of a man cave. It can be a necessity when a couple spends all day together, no matter how long they’ve been married. LJ likes to go out to the garage and do his own thing. His wife, Debbie makes quilts and such, but his kind of crafts won’t really work in the house. He can build things, weld, and fix anything that’s broken. I suppose people would call him a jack of all trades. That also makes him very handy to have around when things break down. LJ got his wood splitter running well again this year. His son-in-law, Steve Moore, rebuilt the piston, and got all the lines squared away. Now, it runs great and LJ, Steve, and my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg, with his son Tucker, have been splitting wood for the coming winter.

LJ and Debbie love to spend much of the summer months in the Big Horn Mountains. It’s cooler there, and because he grew up in the area, LJ knows the Big Horns like the back of his hand. His own family did a lot of camping up there during his childhood. These days the next generations of Cooks are camping in the Big Horn Mountains. One of the family favorite camping spots has a herd of elk that graze the hillside every day. The elk are far enough away, that they can’t see the campers, but with binoculars the campers can see them very well. Mornings and evenings are the elk can be heard bugling…a sound that everyone loves to listen to. Their daughter, Machelle Moore, and her family go camping with them often, but Susan and her family can’t always go. This year they did get to go and everyone, including my brother-in-law, Ron and his family were excited to see a moose walk right through their camp. Moose don’t usually like the interruption of their stroll, so everyone kept their distance, and kept the dogs away too. It was something new and different in camping. Today is LJ’s birthday. Happy birthday LJ!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

On the first trip I made to Forsyth, Montana with my husband, Bob Schulenberg’s family, I was introduced to his family there…among them, Eddie Hein, Bob’s uncle…his dad’s half-brother. That first trip was followed by yearly trips for many years to come. We loved going up for visits, and we were always made to feel welcome. Eddie was a quiet man…soft spoken, but with a big heart. You always felt accepted by him. Eddie had a great big smile, and a laugh that lit up his face, and he liked to laugh. I will miss his smile, and his big hearted kindness. There was never the formality of calling Eddie and Pearl, uncle and aunt, because they weren’t that much older than many of their nieces and nephews were. Even though we didn’t see them as much lately as we used too, it was always good knowing that he was there. Now, suddenly, Eddie is gone. He passed away yesterday, even though it seemed that his health was improving after his stroke of a few years ago. We will all miss him very much.

Bob and I went to Forsyth, two years ago, after his stroke, and I am so glad that we made that trip. It is a trip I will cherish now. Eddie and Pearl, his wife, were both is good spirits, and the trip was so much fun. His mobility was good, even after the stroke, and he seemed just like his old self. I was glad. Pearl just beamed. She was so happy to have him beside her…something I understand after my own husband’s heart attack. You learn to set aside things that don’t matter so much, and live for the day you are in. That’s what Eddie and Pearl were doing too. There were times that Pearl wanted to declutter…we all need to do that from time to time, but Eddie wanted her to let that go, and just be together. I think I understand where he was coming from, as I’m sure Pearl does too. Stuff can be cleaned out anytime, but time cannot be relived. Memories are always with us, but we have to live them to have them first, to make the memories. Eddie and Pearl lived them.

They were married on July 15, 1967, and their marriage was blessed with two children, Larry on May 17, 1969; and Kim on June 27, 1971. Life was good. Eddie worked for many years at Peabody Coal in Colstrip, Montana; while Pearl worked at the IGA in Forsyth, until they both retired. This past July they celebrated their 52 wedding anniversary. Eddie and Pearl had a house in Forsyth, Montana, along the Yellowstone River. They raised vegetables, and Pearl canned they every year. Eddie had a garage where he could tinker, and he loved caring for the garden. He was also a capable carpenter. He turned their mobile home into a beautiful house, with a fireplace made from area stone. It was beautiful. Eddie was always willing to help other people with their own projects, including when his brother, Walt Schulenberg, my father-in-law was building his house outside of Casper, Wyoming. As the years passed, Eddie and Pearl became grandparents. They loved their time with those kids, and I’m sure the kids loved the time with them.

It’s hard to believe that Eddie is gone now. There will always be an empty place that belonged to him. I am thankful for the memories of our trips to Forsyth, and the wonderful visits to Eddie and Pearl’s house. I can picture it now, sitting around their table, drinking coffee, and listening to the stories of our lives. It didn’t matter what we talked about…their lives or our lives, we were reconnecting, and that always felt good. I will really miss those times. It saddens me to have the aunts and uncles leaving us. They contribute so much to our lives, and that rich heritage is slipping away with each one who goes home to Heaven. Still, Eddie, like so many others who have gone on before us, is in our future now, not our past. We will see him again. Rest in peace Eddie. We love and miss you already.

Last June while my husband, Bob and I were walking on the path near our home, we noticed a friend’s vegetable garden. Since it had gone from plowed dirt to medium sized plants, virtually over night, we knew that they had put in plants and not planted seeds. This conversation brought a memory to Bob, about his childhood years. The garden that they had on the land that his parents, Walt and Joann Schulenberg shared with his grandparents, Robert and Nettie Knox was quite large, and Bob remembers checking the garden almost daily to see if the seeds they had planted had begun to sprout. He and his grandpa would go out into the garden and young Bob would see something green in the places where the seeds had been planted. He would immediately ask, “Is that a plant Grandpa?” Only to be disappointed when his grandpa said, “No, that’s a weed.”

I was struck by the memory of my husband’s grandfather, who wasn’t really a social person most of the time, but when he was in the garden…well, he was really in his element. I could picture Grandpa and young Bob out in the garden, while he worked to educate his grandson on the finer points of gardening. Grandpa knew how to do many things, but it was in the garden that he really seemed at home. As a younger man, he worked on several ranches and so being in the outdoors, working with his hands makes sense. I don’t suppose that many men seriously enjoy gardening, and I don’t know if I can really picture Grandpa in a flower garden, but when it came to a vegetable garden, he took great pride in it and in the food it supplied to the family.

When the vegetables were ripe, he would pick them and the canning would commence. I remember, after I joined the family, the canning taking place. It took all day, but when we were done, there were vegetables to last for the year. I can’t say that canning was always one of my favorite things to do, but there was always a certain satisfaction that came from opening those vegetables to serve for dinner, and knowing where they came from. The nice thing about having Grandpa handling the garden was that truly, he did all the hard work, and we reaped the benefit. I say that because I am not really a green thumb, so gardening and especially weeding are not my idea of a pleasant afternoon. Nevertheless, that was most certainly Grandpa Knox’s idea of a pleasant afternoon, ad it was a very nice memory of him. Today would have been Grandpa’s 109th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Grandpa Knox. We love and miss you very much.

My husband, Bob’s Aunt Pearl Hein is a very ambitious person. For years, she has raised a garden, and canned tons of vegetables. She and Uncle Eddie have long been very busy people…maybe too busy sometimes. Pearl worked for many years at the IGA store in Forsyth, Montana, and pretty much became vital to the functioning of that place. That did make it hard for Pearl to entertain, and at least when we were in town, she always enjoyed having everyone come over for dinner. We didn’t get to Forsyth often, and she liked to make our visit very special. And she did make our visits special…not just because she is a great cook, but because she always made us feel welcome. Going to visit Eddie and Pearl was always a highlight of our visits to Forsyth.

Pearl married Bob’s uncle Eddie on July 15, 1962, and they had two children, Larry Hein and Kimberly (Hein) Arani. They were then busily raising their family and spending time with siblings and parents. When Pearl’s parents needed help i their later years,she was right there to help them, often spending long hours at their homes. I remember many times that they were not able to take vacations because they were so busy. Now that they are both retired, they have more time to travel a little, and they have made a couple of trips to Texas to visit their daughter, who lives there. I like that they can get away sometimes to a warmer climate, and I’m sure Kim likes it too.

Their son, Larry and his family still live in Forsyth, and for them as well as Eddie and Pearl, that will always be home. I’m not sure any of them will ever live anywhere else, and I can understand that. Forsyth is a cute little town, with a rich history. The family, from many branches, has roots there. While none of my own family were born there, Forsyth, and all of Bob’s family who are still there, will always hold a special place in my heart. And Pearl had a big part in those memories. Today is Pearl’s birthday. Happy birthday Pearl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sometimes, you think you know something about a person, and then you find out how little you knew. I have always known that my brother-in-law, Mike Stevens was a big sports fan. He likes pretty much any sport, and is good at some of them too. He likes hunting and fishing, and camping with his family. These are all things I knew about my bother-in-law, but that is not all there is to Mike Stevens.

Mike likes to garden and takes great pride in his yard looking the best in the neighborhood. Now a lot of guys want their yard to look the best in the neighborhood, but few of them care about the garden, produce or flowers. He plants, tomatoes, peppers and after his son, Garrett moved to Sheridan last summer, and left him with zucchini and cucumber plants, Mike has taken on both of those too. When Garrett had to move he left the plants that he had planted in buckets with his parents, who tended to them the rest of the summer. Some of them made it and some did not. Nevertheless, when Mike had to plant the zucchini in the ground because it got too big for the buckets, Garrett’s plants found themselves adopted. Now, Mike is gearing up to start planting his garden again this year.

There has been one minor hiccup in the whole process, however, because Mike has had some unwanted visitor’s, in the form of a family of rabbits, in the back yard, that he thinks might decide that that his precious vegetables would make an ideal lunch. So…Mike has become an Elmer Fudd like stalker with his Red Rider BB gun. Every day he get’s his BB gun out and tip toes to the door of the back yard. He get’s his aim and inevitably the “Wascally Wabbit” will hear him and scamper away. I guess Mike and Elmer both have about the same luck with those wabbits. As long as the gun doesn’t blow up on Mike, like it does on Elmer…I guess. That doesn’t make either Mike or Elmer feel better, I’m sure. I know this much, winning against the rabbits is a tough job, and even with screens and fences, those darned rabbits will dig. I guess that the BB gun is his only hope. Today is Mikes birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My husband’s uncle, Eddie Hein has always been a soft-spoken man, who had a big impact on the lives of those around him. I remember the first time I met Eddie. I liked him and his wife, Pearl very much. They were kind and welcoming, and to this day, we love to go to visit them in Forsyth, Montana, although we don’t get to go nearly as often as we used to. Before his retirement, Eddie worked long, hard hours at the Peabody coal mine in Colstrip, Montana. It was shift work, and it was hard on the body, but Eddie made a good living and supported his family well. The long hours always seemed twice as long as they were…especially at the end of a long week of them.

Coal mining was Eddie’s occupation, but it was not his life…not his heart. His heart belonged to his family. Eddie remodeled their home largely by himself, and did a beautiful job. Eddie worked hard, alongside Pearl, of course, weeding their garden, and growing their vegetables, and then canning the vegetables for use all year long. It was a project they did together, especially after Pearl went to work too. Eddie and Pearl were always there to help their friends and neighbors too. People only had to call, and they would do whatever was needed. I suppose that is just the way it is in a small town, but more likely it is just they way they are. Eddie and Pearl are very helpful people, just ask anyone.

Eddie has always loved tractors. He was always working on one or two, and there were always tractors in their back yard. He used them to help friends with their haying, or digging something for someone when needed. I’m sure he used them in their own garden too, because you can’t really have a successful garden if you don’t plow it and such. My husband, Bob remembers those tractors well, but then I guess he would. It’s kind of a guy thing, and being a mechanic, just like his Uncle Eddie, working on tractors would have a draw for him too. I’m sure those tractors gave them lots to talk about, and I know that they both enjoyed those visits very much. Today is Eddie’s 74th birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Eddie & PearlAbout a month ago, my husband Bob and I went to visit family in Forsyth, Montana. We had a wonderful time visiting, reminiscing, and learning new family information. It was a trip we needed to take, because it had been far too long since our last visit. The family there is just so important to us. We knew we couldn’t let any more time pass before we went to visit. Two of the people we wanted to spend time with, were Bob’s aunt and uncle, Eddie and Pearl Hein. Eddie recently had a couple of strokes, and we wanted to show him how important he is to us, and Pearl had been taking care of him, almost on her own, and since I have been a caregiver, I know that she needs support too, even if it is just moral support. Caregiving is exhausting work, and while the patient wishes they didn’t need you to work so hard…the fact remains that they do, and they know that without you, they would be in a nursing home, or worse. Still, caregiving ed-pearl-larry-kimtakes it’s toll on the caregiver, and I was worried about Pearl too. But Pearl loves Eddie, and she did what she had to do, and she has been rewarded with a husband who is healthy again, and getting stronger every day.

When we saw Eddie and Pearl, we were very pleased to see that they were both doing quite well. They looked a little tired, but then right now, everything they do is harder…physically harder. Eddie is in the process of re-learning how to do many things that we all take for granted every day. I didn’t know what to expect when we were getting ready to see Eddie, even though, Bob’s Uncle Butch Schulenberg had told us that Eddie was really improving. We didn’t know if Eddie could talk well, or walk well, or what. We were so relieved when Eddie walked into Butch’s house, smiling and talking clearly. We were so relieved, but we should not have been scan0096-3surprised. No, we should have known that Eddie would be back, because he is a strong man, and he won’t ever give up.

Eddie spent most of his adult life working in the Peabody coal mine in Colstrip, Montana. He worked hard to support his family, and when he was home, he worked to renovate their home. He and Pearl have always had a garden, and worked together to grow fresh vegetables for their family. In fact, they have both worked hard all their lives. That is what has made them the strong people they are, and that is why I know that Eddie will come back from this stronger than ever. Today is Eddie’s birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Larry, Terry, and ShirleyThe other day, I was talking with my cousin, Shirley Cameron on instant message through Facebook, when she brought up an old memory…a blast from our past. Shirley’s mom, Ruth Wolfe was my dad, Allen Spencer’s younger sister, and our families were very close…especially when the Wolfe family still lived in Casper, and we were all little kids. Shirley was the oldest of the three Wolfe siblings, with two younger brothers, Larry and Terry. My older sister, Cheryl Masterson fell in between Larry and Terry, and I was four months younger than Terry. Our three younger sisters, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, and Allyn Hadlock were the youngest ones. Back in those days, the fun you had depended on your imagination. I guess we all had imagination, but Shirley really seemed to be able to come up with great ideas. And she was able to carry them out too.

We started talking about the games we played when we were out at their place, like wagon train. Of course, we didn’t have a real covered wagon or a team of horses, but that didn’t mean that we would have to be the Caryn, Caryl, and Cherylhorses for our pull type wagons, because My aunt and uncle had a tractor, and Shirley knew how to drive it. So we hooked the wagons to the tractor, and headed down the road near their place. Oh sure, sometimes the whole thing would break down, but then what would a wagon train be without a breakdown. Even in the pioneer days, the wagons broke down…right?

Shirley had a set of dishes, and like the wagon trains of the wild west, we brought our own food the long trip…usually. Of course, sometimes we had to improvise. Since we didn’t really have a way to go hunting, we had to make due with what was available to us, and the best cooking we did was when we made mud pies. They probably didn’t taste good, and I’ll never know, because I never tasted them, but we could make them look pretty good…in a hamburger sort of way. I’m sure there were other things like vegetables picked out of Aunt Ruth’s garden, and maybe apples or berries that we came across, whether they were edible or not. No matter what we came up with, real or imagined, we always had a lot of fun playing wagon train or any other game we came up with to play. It was always interesting, but I think in reality it was Shirley who had all the great Alena and Allynideas…maybe with a little help from Cheryl.

We were all as close as sisters or best friends, but we were more than that…we were cousins, and that is a forever friend…kind of like a sister is a forever friend. For Shirley, we were like the sisters she never had. Of course, we didn’t really understand what a big deal that was, because we were five sisters. We had never really known a time without our sisters, but Shirley had two brothers, and even though they were close, they weren’t like sisters. Boys think differently than girls. They like to do different things than girls. It just wasn’t the same. Yes, we played the games the boys wanted to play too sometimes, but we sure had a good time playing wagon train with Shirley.

imageWhen Bob and I went to Forsyth, Montana every summer, it was to connect with his family members who lived too far away the see every day. Each had their own special way of doing things, and their own personality. So many memories about those days stand out in my mind, but today is about Bob’s uncle, Eddie Hein. Eddie was and still is a hard working man with a gentle way about him. I have always enjoyed the visits that we had to his home, and his wife Pearl was always so sweet too. If you ever left their home hungry, it was your own fault. They loved entertaining, and Pearl is an amazing cook.

Eddie and Pearl were also very busy people. In addition to their jobs, they helped to care for some of Pearl’s family members. Having done that, I know that it is a big job, filled with emotions. You alsoWalt & Eddie have to have the help and support of your spouse, and I know that Pearl was always able to count on Eddie to be there for her. For a caregiver that is a vital thing. Caregiving is a stressful thing anyway and when your spouse is making things more difficult at home, that adds a terribly large amount of stress. Eddie didn’t do that to Pearl. And that has made all the difference.

Eddie has always been serious family man. His family was always his first priority. I remember the garden he and Pearl had, and the lovely addition he put on their house to provide some much needed space. He was always very handy, and he could build just about anything he put his mind to. He spent a lot of time in his shop working of projects he set himself to do. He always had something going on, and pretty much always had a way to fix whatever needed fixing. And whether you are traveling or not, that is a handy person to have We can fix that right nowaround. But, that was just Eddie. He was always willing to help someone when it was needed.

There are many things that have always endeared Eddie to me and my family, but probably the biggest one, was his great sense of humor. Eddie loved a good laugh and a good joke, and he has a great laugh. I always loved the ones he pulled on Bob…like the time he pretended to give Bob a buzz cut. I’m pretty sure Bob knew the sheers weren’t plugged in, but maybe he didn’t. Either way, Bob did his best to protect his long hair…at least for a few more months. Today is Eddie’s birthday. Happy birthday Eddie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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