Monthly Archives: October 2014

10404099_10203050974091193_5853198210690934122_na10653815_10203120678073749_584939759546150558_naAs our kids have grown, my sisters and I find ourselves along for the ride when it comes to Halloween. My grandchildren always seem to be working, so there are no little kids coming by my place…at least not that I know. For me, it could easily become just another boring evening, were it not for my niece, Jenny and her husband, Steve Spethman. Every Halloween, they have a party at their house. We all go over and they make green chili, and all the fixings. The meal alone would make the evening for sure, but it gives us a chance to see all the cute little costumes the kids wear. They have an abundance of trick or treaters at their house…every year. At our house, we usually get just a few kids, and then Bob eats the rest of the candy…and if I don’t watch myself, I do too!!

HotRisqueIt isn’t just the kids that dress up for the party either. We have had pirates, gangsters, and name a few. My daughter, Amy and her husband, Travis always dress up. They have come up with some amazing costumes…such as a stewardess and a rather large woman…which Travis pulled off quite well. It’s a time when the adults can cut loose a little bit too, even if it is a little bit risqué. Still, it’s kids costumes that I like the most. They kids always look so cute, and have so much fun getting a sugar high. This is a night when everyone can get a little bit crazy, because we all know it’s all in fun.

My daughter, Corrie Petersen and my niece, Kellie Hadlock have dressed up for work, and I know some bowling leagues dressed up for league nights that fell near Halloween, but I have never done either. I guess I have Corrie at workKellie going to workalways thought of this as a kids day, but maybe I was wrong on that one. In fact, maybe I should dress up this year. I have been thinking of the perfect costume, and I think I might have it. I think I’ll go as a grandma. It suits me perfectly, and I should have everything I need. I’ve been told I don’t really look ;like a grandma, but I am, so that should work. I suppose there will be those at tonight’s party who will not think mine is a great costume, but I do. Being a mom and grandma are the things I do the very best, and the things I love to be the very most. Happy Halloween!!

Spiral Bridge - Hastings, MinnesotaI never knew my dad to be a big sentimental saver, who kept every little knick knack or scrap of paper, so when he saved something, I have to think that it meant something, or was something special to him. Pictures were the exception, of course, but I was surprised when I found a couple of post cards from his sister, my Aunt Ruth when she was on a trip in 1946. She doesn’t say who she was with, but since she was married at the time, I have to assume that she was with my Uncle Jim. One post card, in particular, stood out for me, mostly I suppose because I like things of historic value. The post card was of the Spiral Bridge in Hastings, Minnesota. Hastings is in southern Minnesota, and while I would have a hard time believing that my dad never made the trip down to see this famous wagon bridge, I have no real proof that he was ever there, but I believe Aunt Ruth went over it on the trip back in May of 1946. Still, whether Dad went over it or not, he must have thought it quite interesting, because he kept the card the rest of his life. Dad was always interested in the historic value of things too, and I’m sure that is where my interest in those things began. He took the time to show us many historic markers and places of interest.

Lift Bridge at Minnesota Point, Duluth, MinnesotaThe Spiral Bridge was built over the Mississippi River in 1895 as a wagon bridge. It was built with a large spiral ramp on the south end to allow enough clearance for the river traffic to pass below the bridge. These days we would have a vertical lift bridge, such as the one at Duluth Harbor, or a draw bridge, like the Tower Bridge, but back then, they didn’t have the capability to build such a bridge and the river traffic had to get through. The Spiral Bridge easily handled the river traffic and the wagon traffic. In 1895, there weren’t many cars around, and most people still traveled by horse and wagon. A bridge that had too steep a rise would be really hard for horses, so it was necessary, for the sake of continuing the movement of river traffic, to create a ramp of sorts so the bridge was high enough. The spiral ramp on the Spiral Bridge did just that.

With his interest in historic, and unique things, I can hardly imagine that this historic bridge would be the thing my dad would have missed. Sadly, it is not something we can go see today, because it was torn down in 1951 to make way for a high bridge that would provide a straighter entry and make modern day traffic flow more smoothly. The spiral ramp, while a great idea for wagons, slowed automobile traffic considerably. With the Tower Bridgemodern day automobile, came the need for a new bridge, and the Spiral Bridge, while historic and unique, was nevertheless obsolete. I suppose the builders of the new bridge were excited to see a brand new, modern bridge take the place of the old, outdated bridge, but I like antiques. Houses, bridges, furniture, and even cars, provided that I don’t have to drive them much, all hold my interest, but there are people who prefer to have everything very modern. I suppose too, that it was a necessity, and they just couldn’t move the new one to a different location. Whatever the case may have been, I’m glad my Aunt Ruth and Uncle Jim got to see it, and I really hope my dad and the rest of the family did too. It was a little bit of history that I know they would have loved. Bridges are cool, but the Spiral Bridge was amazing.

Fall Colors I10690246_10203971981118776_1956772674234253039_nAfter last year’s unusually hard Winter, with weather patterns that were dubbed Polar Vortex, I was not too keen on the idea of a repeat performance this year. Thankfully, I have been treated to the Indian Summer that I remember from my youth. Of course, we didn’t get an Indian Summer every year, but when we did, the neighborhood kids all celebrated. September always brought with it cooler weather, school, and the dreaded homework that came with it. It always seemed like having that hit all at the same time was really a very cruel joke on the kids. But occasionally, we got a year that made a lot of us feel a lot better about the coming Winter.

This has been such a year. With temperatures in the high 60s and into the 70s, more people have been spending evenings and weekends outdoors, enjoying the unusual warmth. Oh, I don’t say that jackets are unnecessary, but you wear them mostly in the morning and you find yourself taking them off a lot too. Kids are out on their skateboards, scooters, and bicycles enjoying the last few evenings during which they can play outdoors for a good part of the evening…at least until they have to go get their homework done.

For me, Indian Summer means a reprieve…if only for a short time…for the drudgery of Winter, while also giving a break from the worst of the Summer heat. I used to be a serious Summer person, but these days, I like the temperatures to be in the 70s and 80s, not the 90s and 100s. I know that my sister, Cheryl Masterson will still call 70s and 80s serious Summer heat, but I can’t agree with her there. Early Fall and late Spring are my ideal times of the year…provided that the fall is not too cool and the spring is not too rainy.

Indian Summer is said to be a time of unseasonably warm weather and little wind…but I doubt if they had seen Indian Summer in Casper, Wyoming, because we definitely have wind. I can deal with that too, as long as it’s not too cold. With this years lovely Indian Summer weather, and the opportunities to get out and hike some, I am feeling a lot less of the affects Winter brings on me, but then we are still on Daylight Savings Time until the Fall Colors II10659240_10203972000239254_4273656310780623661_nend of this week. I’m sure that after that the normal affects of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) will begin to rear their ugly heads. For that, I simply have to spend as much time as I can in the sun, and keep telling myself that December 22 is coming, and with it, comes the beginning of the move toward the longest day of the year…one of my favorite days. I know that like every season, Indian Summer will pass, and Winter will pounce on us, as it always does, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy every moment and every bit of warmth of the Indian Summer that we have been treated to.

Painting with SisFrom the time she was a little girl, my niece Susan Griffith has always been a quiet, gentle spirit. She has a sweet smile that reveals a lot about her loving character. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m quite sure that as a little girl, she could fight with her sister and cousins as well as anyone else could, but when I was around, she always seemed to show a gentle side. Maybe she just knew how to play her aunt a little bit, I don’t know.

While Susan has a gentle side, she is also a very strong person, who fights for what she believes in and for her family. Even if that means taking on the city to try to stop waste dumping near her home. While I don’t believe she won that fight, she was able to successfully sell her home and move to a very nice place out in the country, where she and her family are very happy. Susan likes the outdoors, and so I think the place in the country is probably a very good fit.

While Susan does like the country, she can also be a city girl, especially when that means going to Las Vegas Vegas Babywith her sister, and especially when they get to see a favorite band, Def Leppard while they are there, and especially when the company they work for, Electric Graffix Inc, paid the bill. You just can’t beat that. Sister time in Vegas. Oh yeah!! Awesome!!

Susan and her older sister, Machelle Moore have always been very close. They do as much together as they can. Recently they joined a group of friends for the latest craze…wine and painting. I haven’t tried this myself, but my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg, who is the girls’ aunt, has done it, and really enjoyed it. I don’t know how good I would be able to do on a painting, unless it was by number, but I know that a lot of people enjoy it, and I would guess that Machelle and Susan and their friends will do it again. It’s a great way to get together for some fun with friends.

Susan is a girl with a lot of interests, including camping with the family. Living in Powell, Wyoming, means that the Big Horn Mountains aren’t too far away, so in the summertime, their family spends a lot of time up there. Camping familyThe Big Horn Mountains are beautiful, so I can fully understand the draw on that one. My grandson, Chris Petersen has been spending some time up there while going to college in Sheridan, Wyoming, but he is on the other side, so I doubt that they would ever meet up there. I guess only time would tell on that one.

Susan is the mother of two beautiful girls, Jala and Kaytlyn, and is married to her soulmate, Josh Griffith. She loves her job and working with her sister. Life is pretty good for Susan these days, and I don’t think it would be possible for her life to be much happier. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! You get sweeter every year. Have a great day!! We love you!!

DustieMy niece, Dustie Masterson reminds me a little bit of Ruth in the Bible. Her family is from Ohio, and for a time, she and my nephew, Rob moved back there, but after a short time, they returned to Wyoming. I know that she loves her family in Ohio, but like Ruth, she has chosen to live where his family lives. She has chosen to embrace her Masterson/Spencer side of the family, and we are all pleased. Over the past few years, she has been such a help to her mother-in-law, my sister, Cheryl Masterson, and her grandma, my mom, Collene Spencer. She would often go to the store for them, as well as running other errands.

It isn’t all about what Dustie has done for Cheryl either, but also about how she feels about Cheryl. She considers Cheryl to be a second mom. It isn’t that she doesn’t love her own mom, but she also shares a closeness with her mother-in-law. And it is really more than a closeness. You don’t help someone Blessedthrough some of the worst moments of their life and no feel very close to them. You don’t share the hardest situations, and not develop a closeness from it. I have seen that in several family members over the years.

There are many things about Dustie that are obviously very different from the person Ruth was, but when I was deciding what to write about her for her birthday, a picture of Ruth and Naomi came to mind. I thought, “That is a lot like Dustie and Cheryl.” Dustie is Cheryl’s only daughter-in-law, and often that person feels a little alienated, but that has not been the case between these two. Dustie comes to Cheryl for advise, and even when she just needs a hug. They are as close as a mother and daughter could be. I think that Cheryl considers Dustie to be her daughter, not daughter-in-law.

Dustie has been such a soulmate for my nephew, Rob. They have been in love since they first met. She has been a great step-mom to Rob’s daughter, Christina, and the two of them have three wonderful children together. Theirs is a life full of blessings, and they are counting those blessings every day. Theirs is a busy life, Soulmateswith activities that the kids are into, but that is a blessing too, because as we all know, children grow up far to quickly, and then they are out on their own.

Dustie has worked at Albertson’s now for a number of years. She seems to love her job, and they like her. She is a fresh cut specialist and supervisor, and really enjoys what she is doing. Of course, her first priority is her family. She is so proud of all the things her children have accomplished, and they, in turn, are very proud of her. Dustie is a sweetheart, and a lot of fun to be around. Her smile lights up a room. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sandy ByerSo many of us would love to know more about our family and the stories from the past, but by the time we realize that we are interested in those stories, the people who could tell us about them are gone, and it is too late. I feel very blessed that my grandparents had nine children, all spaced roughly 2 years apart. My aunt, Sandy Pattan was the youngest of those children. While the older children lived some things that Aunt Sandy was to young to have lived, she was nevertheless, not to young to have heard all the stories, and she was just curious enough to be a willing listener. While her older siblings were growing up and doing all the things a kid sister finds very cool, Aunt Sandy was watching with curiosity. She wanted to grow up just like her sisters, and she loved watching her brothers’ antics, as well as, their kindnesses. She also watched her parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents…and she listened to the stories that were told.Sandra Nannette Byer

Flash forward to today, and to her niece…me, who is curious about all those events from the past. I have asked other family members about those events, and received a little bit of information, but my Aunt Sandy has an amazing mind. Not to brag…but I think I take after her in that area. Once a story is told to her…she stores in I her memory files for all time, and she can pull it out and accurately pass on the details to those around her, who want to know, and are blessed enough to realize that she is an such amazing store of information. There is just no need to be in the dark about our family history, because if the information is out there, Aunt Sandy probably has it.

Aunt Sandy retired a while back, and is busy with a lot of projects, but she has it in her heart to put some of Aunt Sandy nowthis information on paper, so that it can be passed on to other interested family members. I really hope she does that, because it is so easy for those stories to get lost and forgotten in time. Those who remember them pass away, and if they didn’t tell others the stories, they are lost. Aunt Sandy has a real talent for remembering the events as they happened, and for telling them in a way that makes them interesting to the listener. I have very much enjoyed listening to her accounts of the events of her life, and the ones that shaped it…as well as mine, and the rest of the family. Next time you get an opportunity, I strongly recommend that you take the time to talk to her about your history. You will be amazed at what you might find out. Today is Aunt Sandy’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Tucker - 7 years oldMy nephew, Tucker Birkey likes girls, provided they aren’t too much older than he is. Tucker is a typical seven year old boy, and little girls are very interesting, but when it comes to older girls…like aunts and such…well, he’a little bit too macho to be seen hugging them. It might be ok if none of his friends see it, but in reality, he would feel a whole lot better if he could just wave and call it good. Of course, you know how aunts are. We like hugs from our nieces and nephews, and we don’t always consider their feelings. I would probably feel bad about this situation, but like most aunts, who love their nieces and nephew, those hugs are simply important. I mean, lets face it aunts love their nieces and nephews.

For Tucker, at seven years of age though, girls usually have cooties, and I don’t know for sure, but maybe the older girls have more cooties than younger ones. 199325_10150121801297236_5242878_nA while back, Tucker was visiting his grandma, my mother-in-law, Joanne Schulenberg at the nursing home where she lives, and when the visit was over, another of the elderly women mentioned that Tucker was cute. She asked if she could give him a hug. His mom said yes, and Tucker…not knowing what he was getting into, obediently gave the woman a hug. All seemed to be ok, until she planted a kiss on his cheek. It was an innocent enough thing for an old lady to do, and Tucker did his very best not to make it a big deal. Nevertheless, as he walked away with a scrunched up face, that was filled with disgust, he was trying in vain to scrub away that kiss. I never really thought of old ladies having cooties, but I guess to an almost seven year old boy things could seem very different.

196457_10150121813422236_1356812_nThe thing that really amazes me though is that while a little boy, like Tucker is completely grossed out by the kiss of an aunt or an old lady in a nursing home, having his dog lick his face is nothing more than funny. There seems to be nothing gross about that at all. I guess it has to be a dog owner thing, because I know that I don’t exactly like being licked by a dog. Tucker, on the other hand loves everything about his dog, and I’m pretty sure a doggy kiss would be no problem. I’ll bet Tucker doesn’t even think about cooties when it comes to doggy kisses. All I can say is that I think Tucker and I have very different ideas about where cooties come from. Today is Tucker’s birthday. I think my gift will be…no cootie filled aunty kisses. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

10387478_10203972189043974_3295763557144631040_n10525778_10203972297206678_1895648435010323997_nBorn the day after her mom’s birthday, my grand niece, Reagan Parmely looks much like her dad. Nevertheless, I think this little girl might take after her grandma, my sister-in-law, Jennifer Parmely in some ways. For years now, Jennifer has loved hiking in the mountains, and when you get little Reagan up there, she is the same way. She loves to see what is around the next curve in the trail. Reagan’s family lives out in the country, and she has a big yard, so she is used to being able to run free to a big degree. I think it’s very possible that her love of the mountains and the trails comes from her days of exploring in her own back yard.

Of course, there are a number of family members who love to hike, but it is Reagan’s grandma, Jennifer who had the initial desire to get Reagan out on the trail, and it is obvious to me that Reagan very much enjoys the trails, whether she is with her mom, grandma, or Uncle JD. Like many of us, Reagan loves to see where the trail will take her, and in this case, she was delighted to reach Garden Creek Falls. She had a great time playing in the water, and didn’t care one bit that it was a little cold. She loved the beauty, the noise, and the feel of the cold water on her hands.

Reagan has two great playmates, in her dogs, Ayva and Dixie, and she is not afraid of animals at all, mostly because of the influence of the dogs when she was just a baby. Both of them decided immediately that this was their baby, and it was their job to protect and entertain her. I love to see the way they interact. She is such a natural with animals, letting them know with her gentle touch, just how much she loves them. And they want to be with Reagan as much as possible. In fact, it suspect that her nap time is just a bit long and boring for the dogs. Nevertheless, they wait patiently for her to wake up so the fun can begin again. I’m sure that Reagan’s little sister Hattie will find the dogs to be the very same way with her too.

This past month has brought big changes in Reagan’s life, with the addition of her little sister. She now has a human playmate…well, soon anyway. For now, she busies herself with helping her mom to take care of her little sister, and of course, learning how to say her name, which is really cute, but unable to be reproduced here. Of course, while she is learning all of the things a big sister needs to know, she is also spending quality time with her mom. Reagan love to be with her mom, and wants to do anything Ashley is doing. They do yoga together, and Reagan is learning all the right moves, and does them very well, I might add. I wouldn’t be a bit 1510028_10203972444410358_9035178608170111557_n10676125_10203972424369857_755998519846108487_nsurprised if Reagan ends up doing a little dancing as well. She has the grace and the desire for it, so I believe she will be a natural there too.

Only time will tell which things Reagan likes to do the most, but then again, she is only two years old, and so has a lot of time to decide what her interests will be. In the meantime, she is content to spend time with her family, because she loves them the very best, after all. Today is Reagan’s 2nd birthday. Happy birthday big girl!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

IMG_4658Our family liked my nephew, Eric Parmely’s wife, Ashley from the moment we first met her. Ashley is an outgoing girl with a great sense of humor, and a practical, common sense way of doing things. We all felt like she fit right into our family from day one. Now, over three years after joining our family, Ashley and Eric have two precious little girls to make their family complete. Reagan is almost two, and Hattie is just a little over one month. In some ways, Ashley reminds me of a younger version of myself. She is very capable of handling those two little ones all by herself, and having kids doesn’t slow her down one bit. When many of the family members got together to hike at Garden Creek Falls recently, Ashley showed up with Reagan in one arm, Hattie in a front baby pack, and the two family dogs on leashes, and believe me, she had the whole situation under complete control, and packing around two little ones by yourself is a big job.

Ashley really has a way with children and animals that is just precious to watch. The family dogs, Ayva and IMG_4659Dixie are so well behaved that the leashes are really not necessary. I love watching such well behaved dogs. They are able to have the freedom to roam a little, but when they are called, they immediately return to their master. They don’t jump on people and don’t stay right in your face, but rather they spend time enjoying the outing and their favorite little girl, my grand niece, Reagan. I’m sure that Eric had something to do with the training of the family dogs too, but Ashley has been around animals all her life. Her family has horses, including miniature horses. Ashley loves them, and I’m sure that living next door to her parents allows her to be a big help to them too.

Ashley has taken that same gentle way with her daughters. Watching Reagan play, you can tell that she and her mom do things together, like yoga, reading, and raising little sister, Hattie. Ashley recognizes Reagan’s desire to help with all the things that need to be done for Hattie, and she patiently allows Reagan to be a big part of it. I love the closeness that Ashley and her girls share, and the Hattie, with Ashley and Reagancloseness she is building between Reagan and Hattie. Reagan wants to be a part of it all, and that is important, so Ashley’s patience with that process is so great.

Eric and Ashley’s lives have become much more busy with the arrival of Hattie, and the construction they are doing in the basement of their home to accommodate the needs of two little girls. I know that their lives are only going to get busier as the girls move into their school years and all the activities that come with that, but for now, they can just relax and enjoy the fun and laughter that comes with being the parents of two little girls. Today is Ashley’s birthday. You are such a great mom. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

House near Belle Chester where Mina, Fred, Bertha and Elas were bornOne of the things about family history that especially holds my interest is locating the house where someone was born. It isn’t that I always set out to locate the house, but when one falls in my lap, I am especially excited…and that seems to happen a lot. There is a feeling of almost wonder when I find the exact place where one of my ancestors was born…especially when it is someone very dear to me. I don’t know exactly why that is exciting to me, except that it’s not every day that you find your self looking at the exact place that your parent or grandparent was born.

Home births are making a comeback these days, and I suppose that more and more people will be able to say that one specific house is where they were born. I very seldom feel the same way about the hospital where someone was born. Maybe that is because it is not very unique. Many other babies were born there too. I do think that I would feel that way about the hospital I was born in, because that is personal, but the one my kids and grandkids were born in, is also the place where a number of my loved ones passed away, and that feels different to me. I believe that my kids and grandkids will feel a closeness to the Wyoming Medical Center, because it is their birthplace, and that will make it special to them.

The house where someone was born, however, will always hold a special interest to me. I have to wonder what those walls to tell if they could talk. How did the family feel as each child joined the family? This house was where my Great Aunt Mina Schumacher, my Great Uncle Fred Schumacher, and my great aunts, Bertha and Elsa Schumacher were born. It’s also possible that my Great Aunt Marie Schumacher, who passed away at three years of age, could have been born in this house. My guess is that there was much happiness there, as well as some sadness. That is the way it is in any home…life happens there. That house saw the children playing and growing up, and the new births, one by one, and the family grew to it’s full size.

Before they would move to North Dakota, I’m sure there were many memories made there, but by the time Bertha and Elsa would return to the area for a visit, they no longer remembered the home where they were The younger Schumachersborn, nor the wonderful times the family had there. Bertha wrote about that in her journal, so I have a feeling that those lost memories made her feel a bit sad, just like they would for me. I have a feeling that Aunt Bertha and I were quite a bit alike, and so the things that she thought were important to remember are the same kinds of things that I think are important. I am always very saddened by memories lost. Even if it is about people that I never knew, because everyone has a story, and someone, somewhere feels like their story is important, and once it is lost, it is very hard to find again. If no one ever wrote it down or told it, no one remembers. I guess that is why finding the house where someone was born is so important…it is where their story started.

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