photographs

Most people know that at 10:56pm EDT, on July 20, 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, 240,000 miles from Earth, speaks these words to more than a billion people listening at home, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Stepping off the lunar landing module Eagle, Armstrong became the first human to walk on the surface of the moon. The moment was historic, in more ways than one. Yes, the United States was the first nation to put a man on the moon. John F Kennedy’s dream had become a reality. On May 25, 1961, Kennedy made his famous appeal to a special joint session of Congress: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

Most people know the rest of the story, or do they. At that moment, and for the next few moments, Neil Armstrong was the only human to step foot on the moon. He would always be the first human to step foot on the moon, but for a few minutes, he was the only human to do so. “Buzz” Aldrin joined him on the moon’s surface at 11:11pm, so now there were two humans who had walked on the moon, and while that was quite different from Armstrong’s feeling of being the only human to walk on the moon, it was still something so unique that I’m sure it had to be almost mind-boggling. Lots of us have done something that no one else in our family or social circle has done, and the feeling of accomplishment is almost like a high, but this was something that no other human had ever done. Now that’s a high!! Of course, Armstrong wasn’t the only human to ever experience something like that. Many pioneers in different areas of history did the same thing. The first flight, the first car, the first heart transplant…the list goes on, but all of those had one thing in common. They were done on Earth. Armstrong was the first person to walk on a planet that was not the Earth. No matter how you look at it, this was unique, and Armstrong stood alone among human beings…not only for his accomplishment, but more for where it took place.

After “Buzz” Aldrin joined Neil Armstrong on the moon’s surface, they took photographs of the terrain, planted a United States flag on its surface. Then they ran a few simple scientific tests, and spoke with President Richard M Nixon via Houston. By 1:11am on July 21, both astronauts were back in the lunar module and the hatch was closed. The two men slept that night on the surface of the moon. Then, at 1:54pm the Eagle began its ascent back to the command module. Among the items left on the surface of the moon was a plaque that read: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot on the moon–July 1969 A.D–We came in peace for all mankind.” There would be five more successful lunar landing missions, and one unplanned lunar swing-by, when Apollo 13 experienced a malfunction that nearly made it impossible to return to Earth. The last men to walk on the moon, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of the Apollo 17 mission, left the lunar surface on December 14, 1972. In all, 12 men walked on the moon. All Americans, they were, on Apollo 11: Neil Armstrong (NASA Civilian) and Buzz Aldrin (USAF), on Apollo 12: Pete Conrad (US Navy) and Alan Bean (US Navy), on Apollo 14: Alan Shepard (US Navy) and Edgar Mitchell (US Navy), on Apollo 15: David Scott (USAF) and James Irwin (USAF), on Apollo 16: John Young (US Navy) and Charles Duke (USAF), and on Apollo 17: Gene Cernan (US Navy) and Harrison Schmitt (NASA Civilian). While Neil Armstrong was the only human to walk on the moon’s surface for 15 minutes in time, there were 11 others who had the distinct honor of walking on the moon, and while they weren’t the only humans, they were the only 12 humans to do so, and that had to feel really strange to them for the rest of their lives.

CampingCassie and the kidsThere 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 Cassie's wildflowerHorseto 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!!

Jala 2009I love looking at old photographs of people and trying to decide who they look like. With some people that can be difficult, because they are a Heinz 57, of sorts…a little bit of both parents, with some aunts, uncles, and grandparents mixed in there. Other people are so obvious that you can tell who they belong to right away. Still others don’t necessarily look like a specific person, until a little later on in life.

Our grand niece, Jala falls into the “Wow!! She looks a lot like her grandma” catagory. I have always thought she reminded me of my sister-in-law, Debbie, but even more so, when I look back at pictures of Debbie when she was closer to Jala’s age. They have the same jaw line and smile…the same nose…the same ears, and even similar eyes. It always surprises me when someone looks so much like another person in the family, although I suppose it shouldn’t because everyone has those traits that are strong in their family. Nevertheless, when it happens it still surprises me.

Jala is my sister-in-law, Debbies first granddaughter, and I know they have more likes and dislikes in common that just their looks, though…like their love of quilts. Debbie likes to Young Debbiemake them, and Jala collects them and other types of blankets. She must have a hundred of them, and uses every single one. In fact, I had heard that Debbie was planning to teach Jala how to make them herself. Just think of it. Then she could have 200 of them if she wanted, and her grandma wouldn’t have to make all of them. Ok, that was a joke, because I know that Debbie loves making quilts and other things for her grandchildren.

Today is Jala’s 11th birthday. You are growing up way too fast. Before we know it, you will be all grown up and married with kids of your own. Ok…let’s not rush things.  Happy birthday Jala!! Have a wonderful day!! We love you!!

Grandma's Photo AlbumSometimes in life, you find yourself receiving a treasure so priceless that it overwhelms you. I have been so blessed several times, and yet, each new blessing finds me as overwhelmed as the last one, or even the first one. I’m sure that you are wondering what I would have that is priceless. You might find yourself surprised, but it is old photographs…lots of them. I have received old photographs from my mom’s family, my dad’s family, and from both of Bob’s parents families. The latest priceless treasure came in the form of old photographs in my Grandma Spencer’s photo album.

While visiting my cousin, Shirley this past week, she brought out an album for us to see. I had no idea the album existed. We had not seen my cousin for a number of years, and the album had been given to her mother upon her grandmother’s death. Then it was given to Shirley upon her mother’s death. It had been in her possession since 1992, and now, 21 years later, during our visit, we were able to look through its contents together, and we were all very excited by what we found.

I suppose many people would think I was a little crazy, because old photographs get me very excited, but for me…they are treasures. They are the people of my past, my family, and many times they are faces I have never seen before. We found pictures this time that we believe to be the only ones in existence of our great grandparents…my dad’s grandparents on his mother’s side. We knew their names, but we didn’t know there were pictures of them…anywhere!! It was a priceless treasure!!

Shirley quickly scanned the pages of the album and we loaded them onto my flash drive. Now, I am in the process of separating the pictures out and digitally refocusing them, so that they are much clearer. Soon we will be able to see their faces much better. To me, that is amazing…especially since prior to this time, we didn’t even know they excited…not even Shirley, until we all looked at them very closely. We all felt so close to them. Suddenly, the names had faces. It was an incredible find. It is beyond my ability to fully tell you what that means to me. I will always fell blessed by the priceless treasure of Grandma’s photo album.

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