yard

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!!

Caalab & Amy in Edmond13062396_10207883743165032_255531346035253208_nAs hard as it is to see your children move far away, sometimes there is an aspect of it that truly warms your heart. That is how it has been for me in this first year of the new journey my daughter, Amy Royce and her family have begun. I won’t lie and say that it has been an easy transition for me, because I still miss them very much, but the pure joy they feel in their new surroundings is so obvious, that I can’t help but be happy for them. The first six months of their time was spent in a little apartment, while they got a feel for the area. Then, after deciding that the Bellingham area was where they wanted to be, they found a cute house in the suburb of Ferndale, about 10 minutes north of Bellingham.

Amy hit the jackpot at Rice Insurance, and they didn’t get a bad deal either, because Amy is an amazing insurance agent. Her work is located just a few blocks from Bellingham Bay, and for Amy, that is ideal. Part of 13179038_10207976280878417_6843959922991164794_n13315690_10208117965060433_8991877530624826515_nthe draw of the Pacific Northwest for Amy, was to live near the water, and that has been a dream come true. Amy and her husband, Travis who have never been really fond of our favorite pastime…walking, have taken it up anyway. I’m sure that it’s hard not to, when the trails you have found take you to the waters edge. Every trek they take is filled with the beauty of the rain forest, and trust me…that is beautiful.

Amy and Travis have a large, beautiful back yard, and they love to sit out by their fire pit in the evenings, have dinner, and watch for hummingbirds, which seem to flock to the yard for their dinner too. Amy has been able to get some great pictures of the feeding frenzy. Another interesting item for Amy has been the snails and slugs, since they are not real common in Casper, except on the mountain, but up there, you kind of have to watch out where you walk a little bit, or you’ll step on one…and 13321911_10208117965660448_2743111145805970103_n12991034_10207767272133329_995480769411747257_nthat would break Amy’s heart, because she loves them. The biggest draw for Amy, is the possibility of seeing dolphins anytime they are near the water. Amy has always loved dolphins, and really whales and most of the other sealife found on the beach or in the water near the beach. That is something that gets them out for a walk too. Now they are always looking for new horizons to continue their journey on, and that makes me happy for them. Today is Amy’s birthday. We especially miss our girl on these special days. Happy birthday Amy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageimageMy son-in-law, Travis Royce loves to mow the lawn. He always has. When he first told us that, we were surprised. I had never met anyone who truthfully enjoyed mowing the lawn. He used to mow our lawn when they lived in an apartment, just so he could have a lawn to mow. I think one of the things he never really liked about Wyoming was the shorter lawn growing season, because unlike mowing the lawn…he hates shoveling snow. I can’t really say that I blame him there, but I can’t see myself ever enjoying the job of lawn mowing. When Amy and Travis bought a house here in Casper, Travis finally got to mow his own lawn, but it was a small yard, and it didn’t take very long, so he didn’t really get to mow as much as he wanted.

After their move to Ferndale, Washington, Travis finally got the yard of his dreams…and it came with a riding lawn mower. Travis was in Seventh Heaven. As the kids put it, they bought a riding lawnmower, and while they overpaid for the lawnmower, they did ok in that the house and yard came as a part of the deal. Now Travis can finally be mow happy. I have only seen their new yard in pictures, but I do know that it is really a big yard. There are some beautiful trees there, and yet the yard is open and spaceous…and that is just the pictures I’ve seen, without the perspective of seeing it in person. I am looking forward to going for a visit, so I can see this amazing riding lawnmower that is apparently made of gold, because it cost a lot of money, and came with a free house and yard. What more could you ask for?

Of course, as happy as his riding lawnmower has made Travis, he simply can’t mow the lawn all the time, or it would quickly be mowed down to dirt, so he and Amy had to figure out something else to do too. They came up Cyber Dartsimagewith the idea, along with their friends, Burt and Amy, to play darts via Skype. If course, they can’t both shoot for the same dart board, but with Skype, they can each see how the other side is doing. As is common in these couples matches, it was guys against girls. I would love to say that the girls won, but unfortunately, that would be a lie…they lost. Nevertheless, it was an innovative way to play long distance darts, and girls…I think you need to practice up and call for a rematch, and show those guys how it’s really done!! Today is Travis’ birthday. Happy birthday Travis!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

imageWherever there is snow, you can bet there will be a snowman. Maybe not in every yard, but in many of them. I’m not sure who first has the idea to make a snowman, but once it got started, it caught on quickly. Now it is simply a winter tradition, and if the littlest ones are too little, their parents will build it fir them or assist in building it if need be.

The building of the first snowman is unknown, but Bob Eckstein, author of The History of the Snowman documented snowmen back to medieval times. He researched paintings in European museums, art galleries, and libraries. The earliest documentation he found was a marginal illustration from a work titled Book of Hours from 1380, found in Koninklijke Bibliotheek, in The Hague. Who knew that snowmen went back that far.
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When it comes to the tallest snowman, we would have to clarify the 122 feet 1 inch snowman, was actually a snow woman. She was built in 2008 in Bethel, Maine, and was named in honor of Olympia Snowe, a United States Senator representing the state of Maine. In 2015, a man from the Wisconsin was noted for making a large snowman 22 feet tall and with a base 12 feet wide. Still, the average snowman stands between three and six feet tall, because that is the height that the average builder takes the time to do. There are several ways to build a snowman, and in fact the styles can be very creative, or total disasters, depending on the abilities of the builder. Some people are even snowman artists. Their snowmen look like actual sculptures.
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As kids, my sisters and I have built more snowmen than we can count. Some turned out great and others, not so much. I don’t recall seeing a lot of pictures of our snowmen, but we came across one of my sister, Cheryl Masterson building one that I’m sure our dad must have helped with. I suppose that milestones like building your first snowman didn’t exactly fall into place the same category as those first steps or high school graduation, but it is still a first. Unfortunately, like most of the lesser firsts, there isn’t usually as much documentation as the subsequent children come along. Or it could be that little firsts like snowmen just don’t seem all that important when you have multiple children. They are just another winter tradition.

Spring Will ComeFor 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 Dad's Plantertaught 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.

Slap Day 2Every 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 Slap Day 5kind 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 Slap Day 6nice 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.

RonIrish SetterWhen my brother-in-law, Ron was about 10 years old, he had an Irish Setter dog named, what else…Red. Ron loved that dog, and they were pretty much inseparable. Ron was trying very hard to teach his dog as many trick as he thought the dog could learn. It doesn’t seem to me that he was having a lot of success with most of them, but when he patted his own shoulders, the dog knew it meant to stand on his hind legs and put his front paws on Ron’s shoulders. It soon became their favorite form of play. Red loved Ron, and wanted to be with him all the time, but sometimes Ron had chores to do.

About that time Bob and I were living on the same property as his parents, while we got our land ready to move onto. Corrie was 2 years old, and Amy was 1 year old. Ron was always playing with Red in the yard, and that was also where the girls played. That was just how it had to be, the yard was a shared space. The girls never minded playing out there, because when Ron was out there, they had a great time. Of course, the girls were interested in the play with the new dog, and they watched intently. But as little girls do, they lost interest pretty fast.

Eventually, they started going out in the yard playing their own games, and this too, would have been fine, except for one thing. Red, had been learning the best way to play with people. As Corrie walked out into the yard, he bounded over to her and…you guessed it, put his paws on her shoulders, knocking her down immediately. As her high pitched screams hit the air, Red retreated…in a big hurry. I think I might have done the same thing if I were Red, because Corrie could really scream.

Amy had a little bit different encounter with Red, because the dog seemed to understand that a crawling child was very different from a walking child. Amy could crawl Amy at 2 years oldCorrie Sue Schulenberg 2 years 3 months old_editedaround under Red’s feet, and was very careful. He never stepped on her or scared her in any way, but with Corrie, he just didn’t get it. Walking kids should be big enough to do Red’s favorite trick. He was bewildered by this problem. Finally he quit trying, because I’m sure those screams were scary. Unfortunately it took Corrie a number of years to trust dogs again…any dogs. I can’t blame Red for this, because after all, he was just playing.

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