Firefighter and Benjamin Franklin…not usually thought of in the same sentence, but really, they should be. In 1736, Benjamin Franklin was already a young man of influence, but his ambitions didn’t stop at just a few. Most of us think of Benjamin Franklin as a scientist, inventor, founding father, prankster, and writer, but firefighter…hmmmmm, not so much. Nevertheless, Benjamin Franklin was a visionary. He saw a problem and decided to fix it.

By 1736 Franklin had adopted Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as his home, but during a visit to his hometown of Boston, Massachusetts, he witnessed a fire, and his mind went into overdrive. What he saw was that the safety precautions to keep fire from spreading seemed to be far more advanced in Boston than in Philadelphia. At that time, Philadelphia’s infrastructure was basically a maze of wooden buildings and houses squeezed together in such a way that it was almost like kindling for a bonfire. Franklin saw this decided that something needed to be done. So, he published his findings in his own Philadelphia Gazette. In doing so, he turned up a different kind of heat. Before long, he was able to round up about 30 of his friends and fellow business owners who were interested. So together, the founded the Union Fire Company. Franklin made sure that The Union Fire Company was a non-profit organization…run completely by volunteers. What made this attractive to these business owners is that it was essentially a promise, to always have each other’s backs, if a fire broke out on or close to one of their properties. Not only were they promising to help extinguish the flames and save homes, but each member was required to keep a heavy-duty bag in which to smuggle out any possessions they could salvage as well. It was a code of honor to try, in the midst of disaster, to salvage whatever they could of the lives of the occupants. The Union Fire Company quickly became the biggest fire relief company in the Colonies, or as they later became, the United States.

Never being one to just sit back and tell others what to do, Benjamin Franklin became a volunteer firefighter himself. Soon, there were six volunteer corps established in Philadelphia. This fire company was the first volunteer fire company of its kind in the United States. When people saw how well the system worked, volunteer fire companies sprung up across the city and soon all over the country. We think of Benjamin Franklin as many things, but in reality, we should maybe think of him as much more than we do. He was the brainchild behind the Great Compromise, which created the Congress we still have today. He was also the first fireman in another way. He “put out the fiery debates” and created a sense of compromise and peace among the founding fathers of our nation too, but he was an actual firefighter in that he actually fought the fires in his city.

I would never have considered that an earthquake in Chili could affect Hawaii, which is 6,593 miles away, but on May 23, 1960, that seemingly huge distance suddenly became very small. When a 9.5 magnitude earthquake hit Chili on May 22, 1960, thousands of people lost their lives, and a giant tsunami was triggered. By the next day, that tsunami had traveled across the Pacific Ocean and killed an additional 61 people in Hilo, Hawaii. That distance and the amount of devastation seems incredible to me.

The earthquake, which involved a severe plate shift, caused a large displacement of water just off the coast of southern Chile at 3:11pm. The resulting wave, traveling at speeds in excess of 400 miles per hour, moved west and north. The damage to the west coast of the United States was estimated at $1 million, but there were no deaths there.

In 1948, the Pacific Tsunami Warning System was established in response to another deadly tsunami. It worked properly and warnings were issued to Hawaiians six hours before the deadly wave was expected to arrive. Unfortunately, some people ignored the warnings, as always seems to happen. Some other people actually headed to the coast in order to view the wave…like the warning was actually an announcement of a coming attraction. The tsunami arrived only a minute after it was predicted, and it absolutely destroyed Hilo Bay on the island of Hawaii.

People really don’t fully understand just how much destructive power water has, until they see it in action. When the waves hit Hilo Bay, they were thirty-five-feet high. They were so strong that they bent parking meters to the ground and wiped away most of the buildings. When the wave hit a 10-ton tractor, it was swept out to sea like it was made of Styrofoam. you would think that boulders would be sturdy enough to hold back the waves, but the 20-ton boulders that made up the seawall were easily moved 500 feet. The 61 people who lost their lives were in Hilo…the hardest hit area of the island chain.

With all of that destruction, you might be inclined to think that the waves would have lost power, and to a degree, I suppose they did. Nevertheless, the tsunami continued to race further west across the Pacific. Even given a ten-thousand-mile distance from the earthquake’s epicenter, Japan still wasn’t able to provide enough warning time to get the people out of harm’s way. The wave hit Japan at about 6:00pm, more than a full day after the earthquake. The tsunami struck the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido. The wave’s power was still enough to crushing 180 people, and to leave 50,000 more homeless. In Japan, it caused $400 million in damages. With everything destroyed by this one earthquake and the subsequent tsunami, you would think that people would finally learn to stay away from the shore during a tsunami warning, but every year people lose their lives because they decided to cross paths with waves…be it from tsunamis, hurricanes, and other floods. Water is a force to be reckoned with. It should be considered very dangerous.

My grandniece, Jadyn Mortensen is graduating from high school today, and I can’t believe that she could possibly be that grown up…except for the fact that I have watched her growing up these 18 years. I would like to say that there is one standout point of amazingness with Jadyn, but there just isn’t. Jadyn is a girl with many talents. If you put Jadyn on a horse, she will show you how to be the most amazing barrel racer I have ever seen. Ok, I could be biased, but she is really good, nevertheless. She is so good in fact, that the University of Wyoming saw her talent, and signed her to the rodeo team immediately…along with a full ride scholarship. The value of her talent has proven to be great.

Jadyn plans to study Mechanical Engineering. I wasn’t totally sure what that was, so I had to look it up. At first, I thought it was about building machines, and to a degree it is, but there is so much more to it than that. What I found was that “mechanical engineers are problem solvers who apply their skills to design, develop, build, and test all sorts of mechanical devices, tools, engines, and machines in just about every type of industry.” They are like the designers of the future!! A mechanical engineering student works with a team to develop “a wide range of products and systems including, transmissions, engine parts, aircraft engines, control systems, prosthetic devices, disk drives, printers, semiconductor tools, sensors, gas turbines, wind turbines, fuel cells, compressors, robots, machine tools, space shuttle vehicles, turbines, pumps, power plants, factories, and more.” When I look at the list of possible career options for a mechanical engineer…well, it’s endless!! To top it off, mechanical engineering is actually “ranked among the top 10 fields for employment nationally, and according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) engineers have a median annual wage of $91,010 (May 2019), and the engineering field projects to have employment growth of nearly 140,000 new jobs over the next decade.” Ok, I’m impressed. Like I said, Jadyn is a multi-talented girl, and it looks like her options are as big as her many talents.

Jadyn’s interest in machines, is not something she came by accidentally. Jadyn has grown up around boats, 4 wheelers, snowmobiles, and motorcycles too. In fact, she has mixed motorcycles with snow by adding skis to the motorcycle. She and her parents, Amanda Reed and Sean Mortensen love every kind of “toy” and they are talented on all of them. Jadyn and her dad have even filmed YouTube videos of themselves “struttin’ their stuff” on their toys. They are interesting to watch, and Jadyn and her dad love to tease each other while they ride. I think that really the hardest part about Jadyn going off to college is that she has been very close to her parents her whole life, and while UW is not so far away, it is far enough that her parents will definitely feel the empty nest she will be leaving them with. Today, Jadyn is graduating from high school. The world is waiting Jadyn!! I can’t wait to see where life takes you. Congratulations!! We love you!!

My grandnephew, Easton Moore is getting ready to start the next phase of his life and is still considering his options. The rest of us are sitting here wondering where all the years went. It seems impossible that Easton could be out of elementary school, much less high school. Currently, Easton is a supervisor at McDonald’s, which is a pretty good accomplishment for a young man of just 18 years. He is looking forward to the end of school now, because as supervisor, he is required to close, which makes for late nights and little sleep…which accounts for his mom, Machelle Moore’s ability to catch him sleeping during the day and having the evidence to prove it.

Easton has spent a lot of time tinkering on his own vehicle and has found that he really has a knack for it. Easton has also helped his friends work on their vehicles, so he is actually building a clientele of sorts already. In fact, mechanics is one of the things Easton is considering as a career option, a side option, or a temporary option while he prepares for the other possible career option that he is considering. Like most young people, Easton is very comfortable with computers, and would not mind getting a job on the internet or maybe in computer programing. The possibilities in computers are endless right now, and things are advancing so fat that what seems far-fetched today is very possible in the very near future.

One thing Easton isn’t considering right now is moving out on his own. Like most high school graduates, he would like to, but with rentals in Powell running around $1000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment, that is just not feasible. Moving out right now around here is not a good idea. So, his plan is to live at home, while working, and to begin taking college classes to advance his computer skills, so that if that is what he decided he wants to do in life, he is moving in the right direction for it. As for his mom and dad, I’m sure this plan doesn’t hurt their feelings one bit, because they were facing the “empty nest” and I don’t think they were really very happy about it. Sometimes, it’s nice for the parents to have a little reprieve…even if it’s just a little one. Easton is graduation today and getting ready to go out into the world and make his own mark. Congratulations Easton!! We are very proud of you!!

My grandnephew, Xander Spethman was the boy that made my niece, Jenny a mom, and her husband Steve, a dad. The minute he arrived, he stole their hearts, and their lives will never the same. Xander was the first of five children, and he has two younger brothers, Zack and Isaac, and two younger sisters, Laila (who lives in Heaven) and Aleesia, the baby of the family. Xander has been the leader of the “band of brothers” who watch out for their baby sister, and Aleesia loves having that army of brothers around her. Xander has also been protective of his younger brothers too. It’s what big brothers do.

Xander is a sweet young man, who loves his family and wants to be just like his dad. He has a lot of respect for his parents, and because they have led by example with him, Xander knows just the kind of man he wants to be. He loves his girlfriend, Alli Simpson, and they have great plans for their future. Xander is also a great friend to all his friends. People know that they can count on Xander. He is very hind hearted and tries to help anyone who needs assistance. He has considered becoming an electrician in the future, and that may be where his life takes him, but his mom also thinks he might make a wonderful counselor, because he is really good at talking to people about their problems and not making them feel bad about who they are and where they are in life.

Xander is a fun-loving guy. He loves to ride his longboard and loves to go shooting. He is a good marksman…another skill taught to him by his dad. He is always the life of the party, choosing to bring laughter and fun to every situation. That’s why everyone loves Xander. He just brings a sense of happiness into a room with him. It’s like happiness follows him around, and he gladly embraces the joy.

Xander isn’t entirely sure where life is going to take him, or even where he wants life to take him. He has talked about moving away from Casper, which makes his parents sad, of course. They don’t want him to go, because he is their precious first-born child. I think it is really the first child to move out or move away, that is the hardest on the parents. Of course, they know that no matter where Xander goes, they will always be his parents, and he will always love them and his siblings. Nevertheless, accepting the fact that their son is becoming a man is probably the hardest part about raising children…and the most rewarding too. Today is Xander’s birthday. Happy birthday Xander!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg loves riding her bicycle. She made some health changes in her life following a hospital stay on October 18, 2013. Her health scare prompted Brenda to make difficult decisions about her lifestyle. She is not alone in finding herself in that position, because many of us have been in the same place. It’s a daunting situation to find oneself in, and when you do find yourself there, you have no other choice but to begin at the beginning. Most of us who have been overweight, have been there more than once, and each time it’s harder to start again, but you just have to do it.

Brenda felt that same way…overwhelmed. But she took a deep breath and started at the beginning. Eventually, she achieved one of her biggest personal goals…to ride a bicycle. As a young girl, Brenda was not able to ride a bicycle for very long, because she was too heavy. Her knees would simply not bend enough to comfortable work the bicycle. She always felt like she missed out on a lot.

Once she got her weight down enough to get on a bicycle again, she bought a beautiful purple (her favorite color) bicycle, and took the pedals off, because she still couldn’t make them work, but she could walk the bicycle…called stridering. It wasn’t exactly riding, but it was close, and it got her on the bicycle…her ultimate goal. Now, Brenda has put 9000 miles on that old purple bicycle, so she decided to take it up a notch. She bought a new bicycle this year. The one problem Brenda still had on the old purple bicycle was that the hills were still difficult. Her knees still don’t bend like she would really like, and that makes going uphill difficult. The new bicycle has a small motor on it that kicks in to assist with the hills. The rider still has to pedal the bicycle too. It’s not a scooter or moped. It is a real bicycle, but with a “hill assist” attached. I know that this new venture is going to be a good one for Brenda, and I think it will take her exercise to the next level. Continuing to exercise and do the things necessary to stay healthy is vital to Brenda’s life. We want her to be around for a long, long time. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Whenever a man-made reservoir is created, there is a possibility that a town, ranch, or some other building will be covered up, in the process. That applies everywhere really, because often towns, ranches, and such are built near rivers, and to make a man-made reservoir, you need to dam up a river. Of course, there are natural ways to make a reservoir, but whatever you do, there must be a water source somewhere nearby.

While making man-made reservoir is fairly common these days, it really wasn’t in medieval Italy or any other medieval times, but still, it wasn’t unheard of. Lake Vagli in Tuscany is a man-made reservoir, and like many other man-made reservoirs, it is hiding a secret. Below the surface lies the village of Fabbriche di Careggine, a medieval village founded around the year 1270 by blacksmiths in the area. The village existed for hundreds of years as a small mining community. All that ended in 1946, when a hydroelectric dam was built, which forced the evacuation of the village. At the time, there were still 150 people living in Fabbriche di Careggine. They moved to the nearby town of Vagli Sotto.

For whatever reason, the lake was drained in 1958, presumably to work on the dam. Whether it was then that the interest in the village grew, or not, the lake was drained again in 1974, 1983, and 1994…again for dam maintenance. On the last occasion, the draining sparked the interest of about a million visitors, who came to see the ruins, which include homes, a bridge, cemetery, and church. Then, in 2021, the lake was drained again. I wonder if this time was as much for the tourism factor, as it was for dam maintenance. Getting people to come to an area, where they will logically, spend money, is a great motivator, and from an educational aspect, being able to walk around in, and explore a 751-year-old village is pure gold. For many people, that is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and they will do whatever it takes to take part in such an event.

While I can fully understand their interest, I would like to know just how it is that this village from the year 1270 could possibly have held up in the first place. I would think that the water, and whatever organisms live in the lake, would have caused the deterioration of the buildings in the village. Nevertheless, they seem to be holding up remarkably well. Maybe the builders back then used superior materials, or maybe the water somehow actually preserved the stones better that the air would have. Either way, I think this would have been quite a sight to see.

My nephew, Rob Masterson is my first nephew, and he was a bit of a culture shock for me. Up until Rob came along, we were a family of girls. My parents had five daughters, and other than Rob’s dad, Rob Masterson, we still had girls, because we had my nieces, Chantel Balcerzak and Toni Chase…and then came Rob. As we all know…especially all women…men are inherently different. While men can usually mature their way out of it to a degree, little boys…oh boy!! If I had grown up around brothers, I might have been more prepared for my nephew, but I had basically no experience in boys. Even the babysitting jobs I had were girls. Girls were my whole life-experience up to that time. To further complicate things, I had two daughters. Girls were the way of life in the Spencer family. My younger sisters each did have one boy among their multiple girls, so we were further educated in the ways of little boys, and I think it was a good thing that Rob prepared me for boy life, because my girls together had three boys and one girl, and the trend of mostly boys is continuing in the great grandkids too. So, thanks for giving me the education in the ways of little boys, Rob. I think I needed it.

These days, Rob is a great husband and dad. He has three daughters, Christina Masterson, Raelynn Masterson, and Audrianna Masterson, and one son, Matthew Masterson. He and his wife, Dustie Masterson are both supervisors, he at Sam’s Club’s tire and automotive department, and Dustie at Walgreen’s. Life is good, and they are very happy. They have been married now almost 20 years, and each year gets better and better. They love their jobs, their lives, and each other. They are soulmates, and I can’t imagine one without the other.

Being a supervisor is a job with a lot of responsibility. With that, often comes many hours on the job. That makes for not seeing Rob and Dustie very much. In fact, if we want to see them, the best place to do that is at their place of work. Of course, that isn’t the best place for any kind of a real conversation, so mostly we end up waving and saying, “Hello.” It’s ok, because we are family, and we all know we love each other, even if we are usually too busy for a long visit. The main thing really is that they are able to usually make time to go see my sister, Cheryl Masterson, Rob’s mom, because after all, they are her kids, and she needs to be able to see them as often as possible. They are a close family, and they make it work. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My sister, Caryl Reed is my junior by three years, but since we are both grown up, the years really don’t make much difference. It’s the same with all my sisters really. We are all like-minded…the products of the good upbringing of our parents, Al and Collene Spencer. While our parents are in Heaven now, I think they would be very proud of their “prayer warrior” daughters. Our parents raised us to be believing Christians, and in these turbulent times, I can’t imagine living without God’s leading in my life. I know my sisters feel the same way.

Caryl currently lives in Rawlins, for a few more months. Then she and her husband Mike Reed will begin their new life on “the ranch” outside Casper. They have been working very hard to get their beautiful ranch up and running. They had a home built there, as well as a “barn” with a huge garage area to store their farming equipment in and a recreation/trophy room to house the trophies from Mike’s hunting trips. There is also an apartment above the “barn” which can be rented out or used as a guest house if needed. They have had their first two crops of hay already, and these were both sold to their neighbor, who was so excited to buy locally and very close to home. All in all, “the ranch” has been a very successful “side gig” for them.

Of course, the “side gig” part of the ranch isn’t the main reason they bought the ranch. Caryl and Mike love the atmosphere of the ranch. It is far enough outside of town to be quiet and peaceful. The views from their windows, especially from the dining room are simply stunning. Being there is the single most relaxing part of their lives today…as well as the most work, because on a working ranch, sitting for hours admiring the view of the mountains isn’t really an option for very long. Caryl and Mike are always improving the place. They basically built everything from scratch. There was a small house…that their friend and ranch hand lives in; and birthing buildings…that had to be torn down. Other than that, the ranch was raw land. Now is it beautiful, and a wonderful home for them.

Caryl has always been a country girl at heart. I lived in the country for about 20 years, but I can’t say that I was a country girl. As my sister, Alena Stevens once said, “You are a city girl. You just sleep in the country.” Hahahahaha!! So true, Alena. So true. Caryl, however, really always wanted to live on a ranch, with horses, and possibly a number of other animals, especially dogs. Caryl has always embraced everything country, and very soon, she will be living there full time. Today is Caryl’s birthday. Happy birthday Caryl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My brother-in-law, Mike Stevens is heading for some very big life changes. He and my sister, Alena Stevens are getting ready to welcome a new granddaughter on June 24th, and they are so excited to meet her. They don’t their new little sweetheart’s name yet, but since she will arrive by C-section, they know when she will arrive. The whole family is very excited. With their son, Garrett and his family living in Sheridan, it has been harder for them to see their oldest granddaughter, Elliott, but all that is about to change.

On July 1st, Mike is going to retire from the oil fields, after 39 years. It has been a long and successful career, in which Mike has been promoted to high levels, and has had great success. Still, the time comes for all of us to retire and enjoy our golden years, even though the definition of those years has really changed for most people. It used to be that when people retired, they sat around watching television and sleeping in their chair, but these days people are really quite active. While our hobbies and activities of choice are different, they usually keep us very busy.

Mike and Alena are no exception to that rule. They have plans to do a lot of golfing, camping, and possibly some traveling with Mike’s new-found free time. In the immediate future, they plan to be in Sheridan to help out with Elliott while her parents are in the hospital with Elliott’s new baby sister. They are also hoping to bring Elliott to Casper for several weekends this summer, and before long the new baby will also be coming for visits. Kids love to spend the night with the grandparents, and it’s even more fun when that means a trip to a different town. Elliott and her grandpa are best friends. Mike loves to chase her around the house, push her on the swings, and pull her around on a sheet. Elliott giggles and giggles. They really are pals. The best kind of pals…grandpa and granddaughter kind of pals.

While Mike is leaving the oil field, the oil field isn’t totally leaving Mike. The convenient thing about the oil field is that they are always in need of oil field consultants, and it can be a really lucrative side gig too. Mike’s 39 years of oil field experience make him a prime candidate for the oil field consultant position, and they work their own hours, taking the jobs they choose, and not the ones they are told to do. I know that Mike will be very successful in all of his post-retirement ventures. Today is Mike’s 63rd birthday. Happy birthday Mike!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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