Caryn

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My niece, Susan Griffith is a Client Development Executive by trade. She works for Blue Cross Blue Shield, but there is so much more to Susan than that. Like her mom, Debbie Cook, Susan likes to cross stitch. She is currently working on a special picture for a friend’s babies. Those baby cross stitch patters are so cute, and I just know it will be beautiful when it is finished.

Susan is an avid reader. She finds reading to be very relaxing and informative. As with most adults, there is likely not much time to read in her busy day, but because the family loves to go camping, I’m sure she finds a little bit of time to do more of that, while everyone is hanging out in camp. Nevertheless, reading isn’t all they do while camping. Susan and her husband, Josh own several horses, and they do a lot of riding. Their girls, Jala Satterwhite and Kaytlyn Griffith are excellent equestrians, as is Josh. Susan, being a city girl, is learning, and becoming more comfortable with each ride.

The Griffith family was able to get a lot of camping in this year, and that gave Susan time to do another of her favorite pastimes…rock collecting. I had no idea Susan loved rocks, but is is something a lot of people do. Susan tends to look for a specific rock, called a wishing rock. This was something I had never heard about, although I have seen them. When she told me about the wishing rock, Susan’s daughter, Katylyn encouraged me to look it up to see what it was exactly. I did, and I found that “a ‘wishing rock’ is a beach stone with a single perfectly unbroken stripe all the way around the circumference of the rock. For a rock to qualify as a true wishing rock, there can be no breaks in the white quartz circle. Most of us have seen striped rocks, but to find one with just a single perfect line is not easy.” So, I found out something new, thanks to Kaytlyn. The Idea is that if you find such a rock, your wish will come true. Of course, like wishing on a star, we all know that the “wishing rock” can’t grant wishes wither, but they are a very unique, and really very pretty stone, so I can see why they would capture Susan’s eye. They are truly beautiful. Today is Susan’s birthday. Happy birthday Susan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Dustie Masterson is always an upbeat happy person. She married my nephew, Rob Masterson in 2003, and they have been soulmates since that time. They have worked very hard to build a good life for themselves and their children, Raelynn, Matthew, and Audrianna, as well as Rob’s grown daughter, Christina, when she is in town. Dustie works as a shift leader at Walgreen’s…a job she likes very much. She is a great person to be shift leader, because she is a motivator without having to be grouchy. People just naturally like Dustie, and they want to do their best for her. That really helps in the work world. Dustie is always helpful to those in need, and that also endears her to many people. She would bend over backward to help someone who needed help.

Not everybody can join a family and fit right in. Often, people have to get used to a person, and their quirks, but apparently Dustie had the same quirks the rest of the family did, because there was very little adjustment needed. Of course, it helps that Dustie loves to make people laugh, and she isn’t shy about making a face or doing something that accomplishes that goal. Dustie always puts a smile on the faces of the people around her. And speaking of smiles, Dustie has a great one. When she smiles, her whole face smiles. That is a very special trait, and one that describes Dustie very well. Dustie is also very good to my sister, Cheryl, and that have endeared her to our family is a big way. Dustie has loved Cheryl as a mom, and that is awesome.

Dustie is a great mom. She hasn’t forgotten her own teenaged years, and with three children in that age group, a parent needs patience and wisdom. The teenaged years are emotional roller coasters, even for the calmest of kids. Now, with two of her kids in various stages of learning to drive, she really has her hands full. Of course, Rob will help with that too, but anyone who has had kids of driving age knows, every time they want to get into the car, they want to be behind the wheel. Of course, most kids learn how to drive very quickly, but there is always the snow factor, which adds a good deal of stress to the parents of these new drivers. I know that both Dustie and Rob will do well with that, because like most parents, they will make their way through the different abilities and personalities. And after these two, they only have one more new driver to go. There is hope!! Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My aunt, Sandy Pattan is the youngest child of my grandparents, George and Hattie Byer. Being the youngest, gave her a unique perspective concerning her family. The rest of the siblings grew up around each other, so their lives didn’t really seem like anything special. They were kids, doing kid things, but Aunt Sandy was born just two years before her eldest sibling, Evelyn Hushman was married. Her first niece, Susie Young was born just after Aunt Sandy turned three, making her an aunt for the first of many times. As she grew up, her siblings were getting married, working at jobs, and going to school.

Aunt Sandy had a tendency to catch just about every bug that went through, so she also spent more time with her mom during those days when she was sick. That gave her access to the many family stories that her mom told, when they were still fresh on Grandma’s mind. The stores Grandma told were also from a unique perspective these days…one of being there during times we would classify as history. Days of Cowboys and Indians were basically just another day for Grandma, and she made the stories come alive to her youngest child. Of course, being sick was not a blessing, but those stories were…both to Aunt Sandy, and now to any of her family who want to hear them.

I love talking to Aunt Sandy on the phone, because She always has so many interesting things to say. She remembers all those stories, and is happy to share them, and I love hearing them. Her parents were born in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The American Indian Wars raged in this country from 1609 to 1924…probably one of the longest wars ever. Many of us think of growing up in times of wars in other nations, in which our young men might have to fight, as being scary. We think of times like the current unrest as scary. So, imagine having 315 years of wars on our own soil. Of course, none of us would live through all of that period, but many people lived with it for their entire lifetimes. It was always there. It was part of everyday normal life. That was the world my grandparents grew up in. Those of us born after 1924 would really not know what that was like…living with the fear of war that could erupt right in front of us at any moment. Aunt Sandy, like me, loves history very much. It’s like a time machine, giving us a really interesting glimpse into the past. That is probably why we can talk about it for hours.

I’m sure that as a little girl, she loved hearing about things her older siblings were doing. I’m sure it all seemed very glamorous to her. She did get to do some cool things as the youngest, like take a train to Superior, Wisconsin with her mom to visit my mom and her sister, Collene Spencer. Since Bob and I traveled by train a while back, I can relate to that trip. Things were quite likely much different on her trip, because the more modern trains, while not like flying, are more comfortable than their predecessors. To ride miles and miles sitting up straight would be awful. Aunt Sandy has lived an interesting life, and I enjoy talking to her about it. Today is Aunt Sandy’s 75th birthday. I feel very blessed to have her still with us. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My nephew, Tucker Schulenberg is quite a guy!! He loves wheels…all kinds of wheels!! He loves to go out on the four wheeler, his motorcycle, and his rip stick. If fact, he has used his rip stick so much that he wore out his wheels. He just may be the first kid to ever do that. It certainly isn’t something I’ve ever heard of before.

Tucker is a soft hearted guy, who likes to do things for other people. He likes to sleep in, but he gives that up in the winter months do he can get up and build a fire for his dad, my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg, (who recently adopted him…the best day in all of their lives). Tucker is very dedicated to keeping his dad warm and usually is a very good helper doing oil and sweeping the garage. Tucker loves spending time with his dad, and even work doesn’t seem like work when they are together. Although Tucker has this “hard-core armor” on outside he is very sensitive on the inside and always worries about his family especially his brother, Riley Birky and his sister, Cassie Iverson! He loves them very much because he has such a huge heart. Tucker also loves his dogs and his cat.

Tucker is a comical guy. In school he is very popular because he is the class clown. He is always funny and joking around. Nevertheless, he is smart as a whip, and does well in school. He has a couple of really good friends…Joey, who he has known since preschool, and with whom he is very close. Their friendship has been a strong bond for both of them. His cousin Easton Moore is another of his close friends. They love to play Xbox games together, over the phone, since they live in different towns. And…like many boys his age, Tucker has a girlfriend. I’m not surprised, because he is a cute guy and so all the girls swoon over him.

As with most teenagers, Tucker sometimes gets “a little mouthy” and his mom, Rachel Schulenberg had to threaten to take away his privileges. Like most men, he never picks up his clothes or his towels. He definitely not a “neat freak,” but she is trying to teach him the way to be a good husband in the future. I’m sure his future wife will appreciate that effort very much. It’s funny that Tucker doesn’t pick up his clothes, because he is very “into” the way he dresses. He enjoys looking nice and up-to-date with the current fashion trends. He was real excited to get a new leather jacket and cowboy boots for his birthday. Tucker has his head on straight, and in very informed about politics. He is a Trumper all the way, and that makes all of his family very proud. Today is Tucker’s 13th birthday. Happy birthday Tucker!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand niece, Reagan Parmely almost shared her mom’s birthday, but she stalled just long enough to have her birthday the next day. I know how that is. I was supposed to be born on my dad’s birthday, but I stalled two days. It wasn’t our fault. After all, we didn’t know, we were just being born when we were supposed to. Well, all kidding aside, the day Reagan was born changed the lives of her parents, Ashley and Eric Parmely, forever. That was the day they became parents. They were no longer parents-to-be or a couple. They were parents and they had a family. It is the most amazing day in a person’s life. That was 8 years ago, and now Reagan is big sister to three siblings…Hattie, Bowen, and Maeve. Life is good!!

Reagan has grown up around farm animals, and for most of her life, that was all about the cuddling and chasing of the animals and their babies, but as she grew, she began to understand that sometimes, you are raising your family’s food, and that as such, the food must be killed so it can be eaten. I don’t think that is an easy lesson for anyone, adult or child. I have raised cows too, and I didn’t want to watch on butchering day, but you have to help, and there it is. Reagan understands this, and while she may not like that part, she knows that it puts food of the family table. I am very proud of Reagan’s maturity in these things.

Reagan and especially her sister, Hattie, has become excellent horsewomen. Their brother, Bowen is coming along too. When these kids were little, I found myself feeling amazed at these little kids standing on the ground beside these great horses, and they weren’t afraid at all. Now, these little kids can ride horses like the wind, and they are only getting better and better. When I first saw them on those horses, they looked so…little, and since I have not grown up around horses, I thought that it looked so dangerous, but these kids, and Reagan first felt right at home. Of course, they have been on these horses since they were just babies riding with their mom, who has also been riding since she was little. These day, with Reagan leading the next generation, the Parmely kids are spending lots of time riding their horses, and really enjoying the outdoors. Today is Reagan’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday Reagan!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Ashley Parmely is a very busy girl these days. She has long been a farmer…raising horses, cows, chickens, goats, pigs, dogs, cats, and farmers. There may be others too that I am unaware of. Taking care of all those animals and her four little farmers too, keeps her running all day. Personally, I don’t know where she gets the energy for all of it, and as if that weren’t enough, this year, with the ongoing pandemic, she has taken on a new role…that of teacher to her three little students…all while also keeping her youngest girl, Maeve busy while she teaches the older children, Reagan, Hattie, and Bowen. If she doesn’t know why she might be tired, I say…”Let me enlighten you!!”

Being the teacher is a very new concept to Ashley. I don’t think it was a role she had ever imagined herself in. Nevertheless, with the Covid-19 Pandemic, and the hornet’s nest it stirred up in the education system, she and my nephew, Eric Parmely have decided that it is the best way to educate their children. Now as the teacher, you are held to a high educational standard, and it was here that Ashley came across her first stumbling block. No, it wasn’t academically, she’s fine with that. No…it was in penmanship. Not the part about being able to read her writing, but rather, her struggle with “chalkboard writing.” Seriously…how can you aske your students to write in nice straight lines, when you are unable to do so. Hahahahaha!! Ashley is working hard on this problem, and now, a little way into the quarter, I believe she has it under control.

For Ashley, homeschooling the kids is in many ways a dream come true. She has her children at home with her, and they can have relaxed classes on the farm. Homeschooling isn’t a new concept. It has been going on for many years, it’s just that now, with the pandemic, more people have opted for homeschooling. Ashley and Eric are concerned over some of the new radical education plans for things. Some of the things their kids are learning, really seem extreme to Ashley and to many other Christian and Conservative parents. Kids need time to be kids, and with Ashley, I know that the kids will have just that. Ashley has a wonderful sense of humor and isn’t afraid to look silly sometimes. I believe it will make her the kids favorite teacher. Today is Ashley’s birthday. Happy birthday Ashley!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane…known by most of us as a parachute jump…is something that the majority of us would probably not do. Still, there are many people that love to jump, and others who would love to try it. I would have thought that this was a rather new hobby, and a even fairly new way to fight fires or fight wars, but I would be wrong. The first parachute jump is said to have taken place in 1797…yes, I said 1797!! How could that be? There weren’t even any planes?

That first parachute jumper was André-Jacques Garnerin from a hydrogen balloon 3,200 feet above Paris. Military jumpers jump at altitudes between 15,000 feet and 35,000 feet…which seems a bit high to me, but what do I know. The lowest altitude to jump is an almost suicidal 100 feet. That put Garnerin’s jump on the low end of the safe spectrum. Garnerin first came up with the idea of using air resistance to slow an individual’s fall from a high altitude while he was a prisoner during the French Revolution. Although he never employed a parachute to escape from the high ramparts of the Hungarian prison where he spent three years, Garnerin never lost interest in the concept of the parachute. He thought that given enough height, he could have escaped from that prison.

After he was released, he continued to experiment with the idea. Then in 1797, he completed his first parachute. The parachute consisted of a canopy 23 feet in diameter, attached to a basket with suspension lines. He was finally ready. On October 22, 1797, Garnerin attached the parachute to a hydrogen balloon and ascended to an altitude of 3,200 feet. He then climbed into the basket and cut the parachute loose from the balloon. To say it was a perfect trial, would be an epic mistake. Garnerin had failed to include an air vent at the top of the prototype, and he oscillated wildly in his descent. Nevertheless, he landed shaken but unhurt half a mile from the balloon’s takeoff site. Unless you are an expert on parachutes, or even an amateur, you probably wouldn’t know about the vent hole. Nevertheless, it is quite important. I would expect that Garnerin’s wife would have been ready to choke him for trying something so crazy, but I would be wrong. In 1799, Garnerin’s wife, Jeanne-Genevieve, became the first female parachutist. I guess he married a woman who was as much an adventurist as he was. They continued on with their work, and in 1802, Garnerin made a spectacular jump from 8,000 feet during an exhibition in England. Unfortunately, he died in a balloon accident on August 18, 1823 while preparing to test a new parachute.

Most airplanes in the 1940s were of a similar design…the kind that were a simple wing design. There was, however, a futuristic flying machine that made it’s debut on October 21, 1947. The Northrup YB-49 Flying Wing was a prototype jet-powered heavy bomber developed by Northrop Corporation shortly after World War II for service with the United States Air Force. The YB-49 featured a futuristic flying wing design and was a turbojet-powered version of the earlier, piston-engined Northrop XB-35 and YB-35. The test flight of the Northrop YB-49 took place at Northrop Field, Hawthorne, California. It was piloted by Chief Test Pilot Max R Stanley. That first flight seemed to be going well, but it faced stability problems during simulated bomb runs and political problems doomed the flying wing.

The unusual configuration, for an aircraft of that time, had no fuselage or tail control surfaces. The crew compartment, engines, fuel, landing gear, and armament were contained within the wing. Air intakes for the turbojet engines were placed in the leading edge and the exhaust nozzles were at the trailing edge. Four small vertical fins for improved yaw stability were also at the trailing edge. While the design might have had many stabilizing characteristics, it was still basically a set of wings, connected together, with a small crew compartment in the middle. I suppose it looked like an early version of the F-117 Nighthawk stealth airplane, but with much bigger wings and a much smaller crew cabin.

The YB-49 was powered by eight General Electric, Allison Engine Company, J35-A-5 engines. A variant of that engine was used in the North American Aviation XP-86, replacing its original Chevrolet-built J35-C-3. The engines were later upgraded to J35-A-15s. The J35 was a single-spool, axial-flow turbojet engine with an 11-stage compressor and single-stage turbine. It shocks me that there was such a thing as a turbojet engine back then, but apparently there was. During the testing of the YB-49, it reached a maximum speed of 428 knots (493 miles per hour) at 20,800 feet. It had a cruising speed of 365 knots (429 miles per hour). The airplane had a service ceiling of 49,700 feet. The YB-49 had a maximum fuel capacity of 14,542 gallons of JP-1 jet fuel. Its combat radius was 1,403 nautical miles. The maximum bomb load of the YB-49 was 16,000 pounds, though the actual number of bombs was limited by the volume of the bomb bay and the capacity of each bomb type. While the YB-35 Flying Wing was planned for multiple machine gun turrets, but none were attached.

In the second test flight, the unstable YB-49 crashed on Jan. 13, 1948. After the crash, the testing continued with both aircraft until the second YB-49 crashed on June 5, 1948. They tried to make the plane work, but it just didn’t seem to be in the cards. The crew of the crashed YB-49 included Major Daniel H Forbes Jr, pilot; Captain Glen W Edwards, copilot; Lieutenant Edward L Swindell, flight engineer; Clare E Lesser and C C La Fountain. Later, The two pilots were honored with the naming of two Air Force installations. Edwards Air Force Base, California, was named in honor of Captain Edwards, and Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas, was named in honor of Major Forbes.

These days, a surgery is performed in comfort, as the patient is under anesthesia, and therefore, feels none of the surgical procedure, at least that is true for most people. There are an unfortunate few for whom anesthesia has little effect. Dr Robert Liston was a pioneering Scottish surgeon, well known for his skills in an era prior to anesthetics, when speed made a difference in terms of pain and survival. For most of us, the idea of a surgery performed in a matter of seconds would not instill much confidence in the doctor…or the procedure, but there was a time when all surgical procedures were performed in this way. People couldn’t take it very long, and the only thing they might have to dull the pain was alcohol…just like we have all seen in the old western movies.

Dr Robert Liston was an expert. He could perform an amputation in seconds. All was going well, and he was a trusted surgeon until 1847, when he was performing an amputation, which he completed in 25 seconds. He was operating so quickly that he accidentally amputated his assistant’s fingers as well. I can only imagine the shock. His was a career filled with skill and excellence, and in an instant, he had a major mistake on his hands.

Dr Liston was famous for his speedy surgeries…often lasting only around 30 seconds. He was well known and respected. In his book “Practical Surgeries,” published in 1837, he emphasizes the importance of quick surgeries, arguing that “these operations must be set about with determination and completed rapidly.” It was all he knew to do. At that time in history, it was the standard of care that everyone expected.

Not everyone believes that the mishap was a true story, and I suppose we will never know, but as the story goes, the case went from bad to worse, when both the patient and the assistant developed sepsis and died. In addition, a spectator reportedly died of shock, meaning that the mortality rate of that one surgery was 300%. While that one surgery was terrible, Dr Liston had many stories of amazing surgeries and miraculous successes. Nevertheless, this one surgery was his most famous. There is a saying by Michael Josephson that goes like this, “We judge ourselves by our best intentions and most noble deeds, but we will be judged by our worst act.” That worst act doesn’t necessarily have to be intentional, and in fact most “worst acts” aren’t intentional. Liston was a good surgeon, and even if he did have this mishap, his overall mortality rate was actually impressive compared to his peers…especially when you consider the speed factor. According to historian Richard Hollingham, “of the 66 patients Liston operated between 1835 and 1840, only 10 died – a death rate of only around 16%.”

There are among us sometimes, people who are naturally humble. These aren’t beaten down people of no real worth, but rather people of great worth to those around them, but who somehow do their “good deeds” under the radar, and thereby go almost unnoticed. My Uncle Jim Richards is one of those people. His life in service to those around him really began at the very young age of just eight years. At that time, less than a year after losing his older brother Daile during the D-Day attack at Normandy, France, and with 12 remaining siblings, 4 of whom were younger than he was, Uncle Jim realized that his mother was going to need the help of her children to get through all this. Not many 8 year old boys would be able to grasp all that, but Uncle Jim wasn’t a typical 8 year old boy. He was the kind of boy, who saw a need, and went out of his way to meet that need. I suppose there might have been 8 year old boys who would want everyone to know what they had done for their family, but Uncle Jim wasn’t one of those 8 year old boys. He simply saw a need, and went forward to meet the need. That was his nature.

Uncle Jim was a hard worker, who was good at his job, but his first loyalty was always to his family. From boyhood, when he did what things he could to help the family financially, to the later years when a number of his siblings as well as him mom lived with him and his family when they needed to. He also helped out with my grandparents, who were his wife, my Aunt Dixie’s parents, as they got older and needed assistance. And then he became the chauffer for his grandchildren when his kids had worked and their kids needed a babysitter and a ride home from school. Of course, he couldn’t always do that, but when he retired, he took great pleasure in the time he spent being the “bus driver” for his grandchildren.

Uncle Jim has always had a quiet demeanor. He isn’t a really chatty person, but when he says something, it is always full of love and kindness. People think of him as a teddy bear type, because of his personality. I have to agree with them, because that is always the way I thought of him…not the teddy bear part, exactly, but when I heard that, I had to agree. Today is Uncle Jim’s 83rd birthday. Happy birthday Uncle Jim!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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