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When Roy Plunkett went to work that day, his plan was to make a better refrigerator. Plunkett was a chemist who worked for a company named DuPont. It was a dream job for a 27-year-old man, just starting his working career. A plan had been forming in his brain as to how the refrigerator could be improved. The chemicals necessary were a gas named Tetrafluoroethylene and Hydrochloric Acid. He has gathered the chemicals together, but he wasn’t quite ready to start experimenting yet, so he cooled and pressurized the Tetrafluoroethylene gas in canisters overnight, planning to get started bright and early the next morning.

When Plunkett returned the next day, he found that there was no gas in the canisters. Oddly, the canisters weighed the same amount as when they were full, but nothing came out of them. Well, this was confusing!! Where did all the gas go? Now, Plunkett was intrigued, so he cut the canisters in half. During the cooling process, the gas had solidified on the sides of the canisters, creating a slick surface. I can only imagine what their thoughts were on that. They had to figure out what had happened. The use of the chemical was one thing, but curiosity about what had happened was more than Plunkett to stand to just let go.

According to the account in DuPont’s history annals, “Rather than discard the apparent mistake, Plunkett and his assistant tested the new polymer and found that it had some very unusual properties: it was extremely slippery as well as inert to virtually all chemicals, including highly corrosive acids. The product, trademarked as Teflon in 1945, was first used by the military in artillery shell fuses and in the production of nuclear material for the Manhattan Project.” Of course, these days, we all know about Teflon. The main use is in non-stick cookware. It has other uses, but that is the one we all would know, because Teflon became a household word. Any cook, chef, homemaker, or even bachelor, knows about Teflon cookware. It’s big part of cooking life.

While cookware is the main thing that Teflon is used for, Plunkett wasn’t thinking of cookware when he invented it. In fact, it wasn’t until a decade after Plunkett sawed those canisters in half, that a French engineer named Marc Grégoire saw the cookware value and introduced “Tefal” pans…the first to be lined in Teflon. The funny thing is that the idea actually came from his wife. I suppose that the person who normally did the cooking in those days, would be the one to see the value in a non-stick finish. Before Tefal, Grégoire used Teflon on his fishing tackle to prevent tangling. The guys thought of fairly good uses, but Grégoire’s wife realized that the nonstick surface would be perfect for cookware.

The past year has been a difficult one for my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg. Following the death of his wife, Rachel, Ron found himself a single dad with a 13-year-old son. Being a single dad after having been married, while no different than being a single mother, is different in that the dad is used to being the main breadw-winner and not the nurturer of the children. To top it off, not only is he a single dad, but his son is grieving the loss of his mom. Becoming a single dad and having a grieving son is a lot to take on at one time, but Ron has handled it well. No, it hasn’t been easy, but his son, Tucker is his top priority, and he will do anything for him. It’s the mark of a great dad.

Ron and Tucker have a lot in common. Even though there are years in between them, they like to do many of the same things. Tucker has wanted to do everything his Daddy was doing since he was two years old. That hasn’t changed. I have been very impressed to see Ron taking on all of the parent’s school responsibilities. So much of the time the “school stuff” falls to the mother, and often the dad feels out of place there. Nevertheless, whether he feels that way or not, Ron stepped up and while it may be outside of his comfort-zone, he is doing what he needs to do for his son. They have a great relationship, and Tucker really looks up to his to his dad. He has loved him since he was two, even before Ron legally adopted him. That was a great day for both of them. Tucker got the dad he needed, and Ron got the son he never had. Ron also got two great stepchildren, Cassie Franklin and Riley Birky; and three step-grandchildren, Lucas and Zoey Iverson, Jace Martin, and one on the way; (who Ron doesn’t think of as step at all). He feels very blessed, and they feel very blessed too.

Being a single parent is one of the hardest jobs in the world. It may not be all physical labor, but it is harder that many of the most rigorous physical labor jobs. Nevertheless, Tucker needs a parent who can do the things necessary to provide him a life of safety, security, and happiness. No one can promise no hardships, Ron and Tucker can attest to that, but Ron can doeverything in his power to make life happy for Tucker, and he does that quite well. Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy birthday Ron!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

I was talking with my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg yesterday, and she mentioned that our niece, Machelle Moore had only had 6 times in her life that Thanksgiving had fallen on her birthday. Having a late November birthday, one might expect to have a Thanksgiving birthday more often, but because her birthday was very late in the month, that is just not the case.

Thinking back on Machelle’s life, I recall that she was born three days after Thanksgiving in 1976. Bob and I had taken our girls to visit his aunt and uncle in Kennebec, South Dakota, and the weather had turned bad. I don’t recall if we had to spend an extra day or not, but I do remember that Machelle’s mom, Debbie Cook went into labor and after about 36 hours of labor, had to have a Caesarean Section for Machelle to be delivered. It was a bit scary, but in the end, we went home to meet our new little niece. She was born 6 months after my Amy and 18 months after my Corrie, so the girls were always good friends.

Machelle has changed so much over the years. Not only has she grown tall like her dad, LJ Cook, but she has grown sweeter every year. Machelle has a kind heart. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love her very much. She is a wife to her best friend, Steve Moore. They love each other so much, and are very well suited to each other. They both love to go rock hunting, and often come back with great pieces of obsidian that Steve turns into Native American tools that are beautiful…and the real shock is that Steve isn’t Native American. It’s a cool passion that Machelle and her husband share.

Machelle is also mom to two boys, Weston and Easton, who are almost grown men now. Weston has graduated from high school, and Easton is in high school. As the boys have grown, Machelle feels a little bit sad, because she knows that soon they will be out on their own and she will be an empty nester, like so many others who have gone before her into that new identity. For some it is difficult and for others it is easy…or at least not as hard as for others. I think Machelle will do fine, because she has a wonderful marriage. She and Steve share so many interests, including camping, rock hunting, and the company of good friends and family. Yes, I know that Machelle and Steve will have a long wonderful life together, and before she knows it, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. I’m sure she is not in a huge hurry to get there, but it is a nice dream of the future. Today is Machelle’s birthday. Happy birthday Machelle!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Lindsay Moore is married to Shannon Moore, who is the University of Wyoming’s assistant coach. He is also the tight ends coach, and helps with special teams. Basically, that makes Lindsay, the coach’s wife…something she has been all of their married life. Being the wife of a college football coach means that you are very likely to move around a bit. As better positions come up, coaches move into them. Shannon started out as the coach of the Wyoming Cavs, then went to South Dakota State University, then Miami International University, then to East Carolina University, and not to the University of Wyoming, which is also one of Lindsay’s Alma Maters. The last move was special for both of them, because it brought them closer to home and their families.

Still, Lindsay’s job didn’t change…at least not her job as the coach’s wife. When a man is a football coach, he becomes a father figure to his team, in many ways. That puts Lindsay then, as a mother figure, and it doesn’t matter how close in age the coach and his wife are to the ages of their players. Lots of these guys are far away from home, many for the first time in their lives, and it’s nice to have someone who makes them feel welcome and nurtured, like their parents once did. They are grown up men, but a little bit of parenting kindness never hurt anything. And the players always enjoy the social events thrown for them.

Lindsay has always been a very social person, so throwing team parties if something she take is stride, and since she never met anyone she didn’t like, he is a friend to all. Then there is Lindsay and Shannon’s daughter, Mackenzie, who is like the littlest team cheerleader…and of course, it is the job of the coach’s wife to make sure everyone…even the littlest cheerleader has their game face on. And in that respect, Lindsay has taught her little Mackenzie well. Being a coach’s wife is not an easy job, and I’m sure it is one I couldn’t do, because I am nowhere near as social as Lindsay is, but for her, other than her jobs as consultant, exercise instructor, and most importantly, mom…Lindsay is the best coach’s wife I can imagine. It’s right up her alley. And it’s gonna be a great year!! Today is Lindsay’s birthday. Happy birthday Lindsay!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Steve Spethman is a guy who can do just about any job you need him too. He has big shoulders and muscled arms, and is always willing to do the heavy lifting…something many in the family have learned to appreciate from time to time. He has helped with several building projects, including my sister, Caryl Reed and her husband, Mike’s garage/apartment/wild game room. He did an amazing job on all the projects Mike asked his help with. He also helped build the back deck for our mom, Collene Spencer’s house, and a number of projects at his own home.

Steve likes to work on cars, and he has recently been teaching his oldest son, Xander the ropes, as they worked on Xander’s girlfriend’s vehicle. Steve and his wife, Jenny, are working on getting used to having a son who is old enough to drive. That is a strange time in the life of a parent. Parents always feel like their kids will be little forever, even while they are watching the grow up before their eyes. They one day, when the aren’t looking, suddenly that child is driving on their own. It helps the family out, because their child can now help with driving the other children, but it’s hard to get used to.

Steve is a hard working man, but he is also a fun-loving guy. He like to take his family camping, and loves both the lake and the mountains. He is also a jokester. He likes to share funny memes from Facebook, and tell a good joke, something he is very good at doing. He loves to make people laugh, and is a “Tickle Torturer” from way back. I would know, because I have been his victim a time or two. I’m sure that many others have been a tickle victim of Steve’s because he just loves to pick on people…in a good way, of course. There are many sides to Steve, and our family likes them all, even the teasing ones. Today is Steve’s birthday. Happy birthday Steve!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Katie Balcerzak became my grand-niece, when she married my grand-nephew, Keifer Balcerzak. Katie might say of herself that she is a tom-boy type, but I think there is a girlie side to her too…especially since she and Keifer added little Reece, affectionally known as Reece’s Pieces, to their family, on December 14, 2017. Katie loves to dress their daughter in frilly little outfits, which compliment her bubbly personality and delightful smile just perfectly. Katie and Reece have so much fun hanging out together. Katie is always teaching Reece new skills, and loves sharing the great laughs that come with baby antics and learning stumbles.

While Katie might not be a total girlie girl type, there are things whereby she definitely is. Things like having her nails done is a cool way to show off her feminine side, is one that I can relate to, since I love nail polish and nail art very much myself. I’m sure that eventually Reece will want her nails done too, because, well…like mother, like daughter, right!! I think that Reece and her mom are a lot alike. That’s why they have so much fun together. Of course, it would be hard not to smile when Reece smiles, because she is a happy baby who smiled with her whole face.

Katie loves being a mom, and has dreamed of nothing else for years. She is a good mom, who takes good care of her daughter and she’s a good wife to Keifer. They are very happy together, and they work very well together to reach their common goals. For Katie and Keifer, their family is everything. They work hard to give their family a strong bond with each other. Katie love being a mom more that any other job she has ever had, and definitely the most fulfilling career she could ever have. Raising a little life, molding it into a wonderful little person, and watching the smiles and the look of love their daughter wears on her face. Today is Katie’s birthday. Happy birthday Katie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

One year ago today, a sweet little curly haired girl named Elliott Stevens was born to my nephew, Garrett Stevens and his wife, Kayla. Elliott is my sister, Alena Stevens and her husband, Mike’s first grandchild, as well a the first grandchild for Kayla’s parents, Lynette and Wes Smiley, so it was an exciting day. Time marches on, and as with all children, so much has changed in just one year. Elliott now has lots of curls as her hair has grown. Her little smile is sporting teeth these days, and she has learned to walk. That, of course, means that she is “exploring” her world, i.e. getting into things. Her personality is showing now, in so many ways…one of the biggest being her giggle. When she gets into things, and gets “caught” at it, she just laughs and laughs. Her parents ask her what she is doing, and her response is always the same…that infectious little giggle!! She already knows that her giggle can get her out of a sticky situation.

Elliott is a happy little girl, who loves her dog, Charlie. And the feeling in mutual, because her dog is very patient with her little baby ways. Kids aren’t always gentle with their furry friends, but Elliott’s dig doesn’t seem to mind, because Elliott is his baby too. In fact, sometimes he feels like he is in charge of the baby. It seems to be a dog thing. They love to cuddle the family babies…especially at nap time.

Elliott loves the water, and she’s not picky. The bathtub, the wading pool, or the beach. All of them are fun for Elliott. She got to go to California with her parents a few months ago, and if fact, she turned 8 months while she was there. Less than a year old, and she’s already been sunning herself on the beach. Of course, she doesn’t care if it’s a beach in California, she just liked the water and the sand. I think a lot of people would agree with her on that.

Elliott has been such a blessing to her family. She has three wonderful aunts, Michelle Stevens, Lacey Stevens, and Lexi Smiley, so she is very blessed too. Life is great for Elliott and her family, and we are all very excited to see what the next year will bring for our giggly girl. Today is Elliott’s 1st birthday. Happy birthday Elliott!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Dustie Masterson has been a part of our family, since she married my nephew, Rob Masterson in 2003. Dustie is the perfect wife and best friend for Rob, and they are very happy together. They truly are best friends, who are going in the same direction in all their hopes and dreams. They have three children together, Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna Masterson; and Dustie has what she calls her bonus baby, Christina Masterson, from Rob’s first marriage. I hadn’t heard the term “bonus baby” before, and I really like it. Blended families aren’t always easy, but when people view their step-children as a bonus, it becomes blessed. That kind of attitude is what endears Dustie to all of us. It’s not just how she views Rob’s daughter, Christina, but also, it’s also how she views our whole family. She has family in Ohio, but she also views her family here as her bonus family so to speak. she has embraced our family as if we were her own.

When our parents were sick and in need of help,Dustie always did her share. She was willing to do what was needed. She often bought groceries for my sister, Cheryl Masterson, who is her mother-in-law, and who lived with our parents. Getting groceries was not the easiest thing for Cheryl while she was also cooking and taking care of our parents in the evenings. We took turns with their care, and since Cheryl lived with them, it was logical that she have the night shift. Dustie saved Cheryl the extra job of going shopping, and she never complained about it. She had a helping heart, and we needed her. It was another of the things that endeared Dustie to all of us.

Dustie works hard at her job as the Grocery and Consumables Lead at Sam’s Club in Casper. She is well liked by all her c-workers, because Dustie gets along well with everybody around her. Dustie is just a friendly kind of person who is always willing to lend a helping hand. Dustie is always smiling and is a happy person, and that makes everybody love being around her. She is a great mom, and her kids all feel very blessed to have her. She helps them get their homework done, and makes sure they are ready for the coming day. They always feel confident in their parents, their home life, and their lives in general. Those things…peace of mind and security, are the mark of good parents. Dustie is a blessing to all who know her. She talks about having a bonus child, and a bonus family, but I think that she is the real bonus to all of us. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

When a kid is fresh out of high school or just starting college, you really don’t know what kind of an adult they are going to be…much less what kind of parent. That all comes later, when you start to see how their kids turn out. My niece, Chelsea Hadlock is no different, but she has certainly proven to all who know her, just where her priorities lie. She is a great wife to my nephew, Ryan, and a wonderful mom to their kids, Ethan and Aurora, both of whom are sweet kids, and both of whom are well behaved and smart.

My sister, Allyn Hadlock tells me that Chelsea is their favorite daughter-in-law. Now while Chelsea is their only daughter-in-law, and technically they are joking about it, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t the truth. Allyn says that when they say that, they really mean it, because she is a perfect fit for their family, and her love for her husband, Ryan, endears her to the whole family. In reality, she is more like a daughter to them, than a daughter-in-law.

Chelsea is quite talented. She is a great baker, and has sold her baked goods. Since I’ve had her baked goods, I can attest to that. Chelsea started making jewelry a few years ago, and her work is beautiful. For a while she sold her jewelry online, but lately she has been taking it to Comic-Con to sell it. She will be attending Comic-Con in Denver, Colorado this weekend. She has also attended in Cheyenne Wyoming and Portland, Oregon, where she also sold her jewelry. She has been quite successful, and in reality, her jewelry sells itself.

At church, Chelsea sings as a backup singer, and teaches her children to love the Lord, as she does. She is nurturing their relationship with God, and has made all of us so proud of her love of God. She also has a great sense of humor, and loves to tease her family. She is also a good sport when being teased. She and Ryan have been best friends since the day they met, and were instantly inseparable. I think it was love at first sight…or, more likely a match made in Heaven. Ryan has never been more happy than all the years he and Chelsea have been together. She is just a loving girl, and she makes Ryan and all those who know her very happy. Today is Chelsea’s birthday. Happy birthday Chelsea!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

h__nelson_jackson_vermont_physicianI think that most of us have engaged in a wager or two…probably more in fact. For most of us gambling brings little or no gain, and instead, usually loss. That is what it would bring for Horatio Nelson Jackson, as he, to his own folly, accepted a $50.00 bar bet, back in 1903. At that time, there were roads for the cars that were coming out, but they were…well, rough, and that’s an understatement. Unpaved dirt roads are notoriously dusty, rutted, and muddy in the rain. Most people, at that time, considered the automobile a passing novelty, too unreliable to survive a trip across America, but Jackson argued that they were wrong. As often happens in these barroom discussions, someone called Jackson out on his theory. He bet Jackson that he could not drive a car from San Francisco, California to New York City, New York in 90 days. Jackson accepted the challenge.

Jackson asked Sewall Crocker to accompany him on the trip. Crocker was a 22 year old former bicycle racer and a gasoline engine mechanic. Jackson was a doctor who had given up his medical practice after a bout of tuberculosis. At this point, he was looking for adventure. Crocker suggested that the former physician purchase a used 20 horsepower Winton touring car for the treacherous journey, so Jackson did, and named it the “Vermont.” Then on May 23, 1903, the two men hopped in and headed east. They had packed sleeping bags, food, and other camping supplies. Previous cross country trips had all ended in failure, and it was likely that this one would suffer a similar fate, but this was to be the first successful cross country road trip.

Horatio Jackson had little driving experience, and no mechanical knowledge, but he had his wife’s inherited fortune, and apparently that was burning a hole in he pockets. The roads he was to be on had no road signs, 1903_winton_touring_carthere was no GPS, and more importantly, there were no gas stations…plus the fact that automobiles were prone to breakdowns. The Vermont was no different, the first pit stop was just 15 miles into the trip when they blew a tire. There would be many others. Nevertheless, Jackson would win his bar bet and the $50.00 when he rolled into New York City. The mud caked Vermont, crawled down Manhattan’s deserted Fifth Avenue at 4:30 am on Sunday, July 26. The approximately 4,500 mile journey had taken 63 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes, amazing considering all the problems. So what then was the road trip folly? Just this…Jackson had won his wager with nearly a month to spare, but it cost him $8,000 in the process. I guess he could always say he made the trip.

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