Humor

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Some people have a way of letting you know what just might be coming, by the look on their face. My uncle, Wayne Byer is that way. Uncle Wayne is a character, and the first sign that something is about to happen is the mischievous grin that appears on his face. As the youngest of, in my mind, the famous “Byer Middles” and the “Mischievous Three,” Uncle Wayne learned his mischievous ways from the very best. Uncle Larry may have been the leader of the pack, and my mom, Collene Spencer was probably guilty by default…at least at first. She could get into trouble with the best of them, because she looked up to her brothers, and always wanted to be right there in the middle of whatever it was that they were planning that day. Being the only girl in the “Mischievous Three” didn’t bother her one bit, in fact I think she rather liked it. The boys did things differently, and for my mom, that was all the more fun.

Uncle Wayne Spent much of his career around kids. He worked in the schools, as a bus driver, then as the supervisor over the bus garage. I think everyone of the kids in the family, whether we rode a bus or not, thought it was great that Uncle Wayne was in charge of the whole operation. Running all those busses for a large school district was no easy job, and Uncle Wayne did a great job of it. Everyone liked Uncle Wayne, and when they knew we were related, we were liked too. It made us very proud of his accomplishments.

Uncle Wayne loved kids, and he lived making the kids laugh. Maybe that was the biggest “take-away” for him being the youngest of the “Mischievous Three” for all those years. Some things you just don’t grow out of, and as many of us know, it’s very hard to take the “little boy” out of the man. Once they are goofy, they always seem to be goofy. They just love to see people smile and laugh, and that is really who Uncle Wayne is. Today is Uncle Wayne’s 84th birthday, although he really doesn’t seem 84. His is still a kid at heart. Happy birthday Uncle Wayne!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My niece, Toni Chase has had a wonderful year with her family. She and her husband, Dave went to Florida in May. By going early in the summer, they dodged the major tourist season, and were able to enjoy a nice, peaceful getaway. It’s probably good that they had that quiet getaway, because when they got back to Casper, they were very busy helping with her son, James Renville and his wife, Manuela’s wedding…which was beautiful, by the way.

Toni’s life has taken a wonderful turn, with the addition of her beautiful daughter-in-law, and watching her son be so very happy. James and Manuela are happy, and for a mom, there is nothing better than knowing that. James and Manuela are beginning their new life together, but they still find time to spend with the family. Whenever they are around, the family dogs, Cricket and Biscuit are on cloud nine. In fact, Cricket loves playing “third wheel” with the kids. It’s like they are triplets, and Cricket thinks the kids are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Planning a wedding is a lot of work. Having planned two myself…plus my own, I know. The parents need a vacation as much as the happy couple does. After the wedding, Toni and Dave took a trip to Colorado for a concert at Red Rocks. They also went to Aspen at the beginning of fall. Toni and Dave love to travel and spend quality time together. They have such a great marriage, and it’s so sweet to see them together. They lead quiet peaceful lives, hiking, traveling, working, and enjoying their family. Life just doesn’t get any better than that. Today is Toni’s birthday. Happy birthday Toni!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Uncle Eddie Hein was a soft-spoken man, but that didn’t mean that he wasn’t a funny man. He loved to laugh, and he had a great laugh too. That is probably one of the things I miss most about Uncle Eddie…that and the great smile that went with the great laugh. He loved practical jokes…like pretending to give my husband, Bob Schulenberg, his nephew, a buzzcut in the 70s, when long hair was the style. I think Bob knew that the clippers weren’t plugged in, but he went along with the joke anyway. It is my guess that my in-laws, Walt and Joann Schulenberg put Eddie up to the joke, almost hoping he would actually cut Bob’s hair. Of course, Eddie would never have done that, but it was a funny thought anyway. It was a typical kind of joke Eddie would pull on people.

Eddie is my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg’s half brother, and so it was an annual trip from Casper, Wyoming to Forsyth, Montana that the Schulenberg’s took each year, to keep the family close to the aunt, uncles, and cousins that lived there, as well as to my father-in-law’s mom, Vina Hein, and step-dad, Walt Hein. When Bob and I got married, we wanted to continue that tradition, and I have always been glad we did. My girls had the privilege of knowing some of the most amazing people through those trips. I have always believed in the importance of family, and have hopefully instilled those same traditions on my kids and grandkids.

Eddie was a hard-working man, who worked hard in the coal mines, and then came home to work hard around the home he shared with his wife, Pearl, and children, Larry and Kim. He turned their smaller mobile home into a very nice house, with plenty of room for the whole family. He and Pearl also raised a wonderful garden, and canned lots and lots of vegetables. That garden saved the family lots of money in grocery bills. Canning I could do, but gardening…not so much, so I don’t mind telling you that I was a little bit jealous of those who can grow gardens, vegetable or flower.

Eddie was a mechanic by trade, and never really wanted to be a rancher, although he could do that work too. I think Eddie could do anything he put his mind to. He was a very talented Jack of all Trades. The Forsyth area is abundant in river rock, because of the Yellowstone River that flows through town. Eddie built a beautiful fireplace in their home out of that river rock. It was just stunning, and one of my favorite parts of the home he built. It not only heated the home, but it made it look amazing too. Eddie also helped my father-in-law when he was building the house he built in the Casper area.

Eddie went home to be with the Lord on October 16, 2019, and we all miss him very much. In my mind’s eye, I can still visualize his smiling face and his great laugh. Today would have been Uncle Eddies 78th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Eddie. We love and miss you very much.

My niece, Dustie Masterson works as a shift manager at Walgreen’s in Casper, Wyoming, and in the time she has been there, she has become an indispensable asset to the store. You never know were you will find her when you walk in, because she seems to be everywhere at once, and the places she isn’t will be calling for her help before you know it. It’s not that the store is out of control, but rather that under Dustie’s leadership, it is a well-oiled machine. She seems to be everywhere at once, because Dustie is a mover and a shaker. A mover and a shaker is defined as “a powerful person who initiates events and influences people” and that is much like what Dustie is. She stays busy, helps out where needed, and keeps things running smoothly, but she also inspires the people she works with to excel in their jobs too.

Dustie is just as much an inspiration in her home. She inspires her kids to do well in school and her husband, Rob Masterson to do well in his job too. Being managers is something they share, although at different places. I think that the leadership qualities that Dustie and Rob have are already showing up in their children. Some things are inherited too, and these kids will do well in life.

Dustie is a great leader, but that is not all that Dustie is about. Dustie has a great sense of humor, and she likes being very silly, especially with her kids. She shows them that they don’t have to spend their whole life working feverishly, or being serious as the contemplate their lives, or even hidden away with their noses in a book. Of course, those things are necessary at the proper times, but there is also a time to be…silly, and to laugh about their silliness. Life can sometimes get far too serious, and like the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, “To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.” Dustie loves the Bible, and I love that she does, and that she knows there is a time to laugh. Today is Dustie’s birthday. Happy birthday Dustie!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My uncle, Jim Wolfe was a favorite uncle to my sisters, Cheryl Masterson, Caryl Reed, Alena Stevens, Allyn Hadlock, and me. Uncle Jim had a great sense of humor, and a deep sense of family. He loved kids and he was good to all kids. In fact, Uncle Jim was good to everyone. He was the best kind of person. Uncle Jim has a soft heart. Whatever we wanted when we were around Uncle Jim…if he had any say in it, we could have it, or do it! I’m not sure how my parents, Al and Collene Spencer, felt about all that “spoiling,” but I’m sure they were ok with it, because after all, it was only temporary. He just liked to make us happy.

My uncle Jim was a storyteller among storytellers. The best of the best. When Uncle Jim started telling his stories, we all sat around him wide-eyed with wonder. We never knew if his stories were going to be from real life and which ones were going to be tall tales…at least not until the end, when he would tell us the punch line. Then we would all laugh and say, “Oh! Uncle Jim!” He loved to get a little rise out of us, and it really tickled his funny bone. And speaking of tickling, Uncle Jim was a tickler from way back. He used to chase us around and tickle us, if we started bugging him…so naturally, we always started bugging him. Then we would try to get away. Hahahaha!! Not that that ever happened. Uncle Jim had the kindest heart and he was always a lot of fun!

Uncle Jim would help anyone who needed help, if it was within his power…neighbors, friends, and even complete strangers. He was generous, and would always lend a helping hand where he could. He loved his family fiercely and loyally. No one better hurt his wife or kids, in any way. He defended them in word and deed. He was faithful to them in every way. When he decided to buy some land out in Washington, where he would build his final home, he bought enough so that each of his kids could have their own place nearby. He never wanted any of them to not have a home, so he made sure of it. The land he purchased was on he top of a mountain with some of the most beautiful views on the way up. He did his very best for all of his family, and I don’t know anyone who didn’t love Uncle Jim. In his later years, when his care for Alzheimer’s Disease required that he be in a nursing home, Uncle Jim still kept his character. He loved putting a smile on the faces of all the nursing staff, and anyone else who might be there visiting. He could often be found getting into “mischief” behind the nurses station desk, not that he ever hurt anything, he was just “visiting,” after all. My sisters and I love him still! Just thinking about him make us smile. Uncle Jim went to Heaven in 2013 to join his wife, my Aunt Ruth, and other family members who have gone before him. I know they are having a great time, and we are so glad to know where he is, and one day we will be together with him, and all our family again. Today would have been Uncle Jim’s 100th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Jim. We love and miss you very much.

Harvey Ball was a commercial artist from Worcester, Massachusetts. You may not know him, but everyone knows what he created…the smiley face. Harvey Ross Ball was born on July 10, 1921 the third of six children to Ernest G Ball and Christine “Kitty” Ross Ball. Ball’s artistic skills presented early. As a student at Worcester South High School, he decided to become an apprentice to a local sign painter. Later he attended the Worcester Art Museum School, where he studied fine arts, however, it was not in the fine arts that Ball’s fame emerged. He is recognized as the designer of a popular smiley graphic picture, which became an enduring and notable international icon.

Ball worked for a local advertising firm after World War II. Then he decided to start his own business, which he called Harvey Ball Advertising, in 1959. He designed the smiley in 1963. The State Mutual Life Assurance Company of Worcester, Massachusetts, now known Hanover Insurance, had purchased Guarantee Mutual Company of Ohio. After the merger, employee morale was pretty low. The company decided to try to boost morale, so they asked Ball to come up with an image that would help. What he created was a smiley face, with one eye bigger than the other. The creation took Ball ten minutes, and the executives liked it immediately. They paid Ball a mere $45 for his creation.

The smiley face became part of the company’s friendship campaign, and State Mutual handed out 100 smiley pins to employees. The aim was to get employees to smile while using the phone and doing other tasks. The buttons became popular, with orders being taken in lots of 10,000. More than 50 million smiley face buttons had been sold by 1971, and the smiley has been described as an international icon. As for Ball, well…he never applied for a trademark or copyright of the smiley and that $45 was all he ever got for his trouble. I don’t suppose that did much for his morale. Nevertheless, State Mutual didn’t make any money from the design either. According to Ball’s son, Charles, his father never regretted not registering the copyright. Charles Ball said, “he was not a money-driven guy, he used to say, ‘Hey, I can only eat one steak at a time, drive one car at a time.'”

Ball had a heart for children, and founded the World Smile Foundation in 1999, a non-profit charitable trust that supports children’s causes. Then, he came up with World Smile Day. It was a great idea, I think. How nice it is to celebrate a day dedicated to putting a smile on your face and sharing that great smile with others. The first World Smile Day was celebrated in 1999. It’s been held annually on the first Friday of October since then. After Harvey died in 2001, the “Harvey Ball World Smile Foundation” was created to honor his name and memory. The slogan of the Smile Foundation is “improving this world, one smile at a time.” The Foundation continues to be the official sponsor of World Smile Day each year. We should all consider that slogan.

Since I am not a fishing fanatic, and in fact, I find the sport…boring, sorry folks, but I do, I’m sure it seems odd for me to write a fish story. Nevertheless, there was a time when I found a certain fish really fascinating. My husband, Bob Schulenberg and I were on a Caribbean cruise for our 25th anniversary, and we loved walking the upper deck of the ship. We often stood looking over the edge looking for dolphin, but it was not dolphin that really made an impact on us, although we did see dolphin. The fish that really caught our eye was the Flying Fish.

Flying fish, also known as Exocoetid is a marine fish in the order Beloniformes class Actinopterygii, known in simple terms as flying fish or flying cod. They are “ray-finned fish with highly modified pectoral fins.” While they are called Flying Fish, the name is a bit misleading in that they aren’t capable of powered flight. Their fins can’t act as wings. Instead they propel themselves out of the water at speeds of more than 35 miles an hour. Once in the air, their rigid “wings” allow them to glide for up to 650 feet. The wing-like pectoral fins are primarily for gliding. Then, while swimming, the fish hold the fins flat at their sides. Their streamlined bodies reduce drag when the fish are “flying.” However it works, the Flying Fish is a unique and very interesting thing to see…especially when you had no idea that such a thing existed. Another interesting characteristic of the flying fish is its “unevenly forked tail, which has a top lobe that’s shorter than the bottom lobe.” While the Flying Fish looked small from the deck of the ship, they can actually be up to 18 inches long. Nevertheless, they average Flying Fish is 7 to 12 inches.

Another thing I didn’t know is that there are approximately 40 species of flying fish. They are tropical fish and can be seen off both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States. They are also found in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. most flying fish live in open oceans, but some live on the outskirts of coral reefs.

I don’t claim to know all the fish in the sea, but I had no idea that such a thing existed. At first we thought they were birds. We couldn’t figure out how these “little birds” could be flying around so far out to sea, then we found out that they were actually fish. I’ll never forget how cool it was to watch them. It was a highlight of the cruise…very strange for a non-fisherman, I know.

My father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg was a hard working man, who held a number of jobs over the years. He drove truck, worked construction, mechanic at the mines in the area, and maintenance at Casper College. Dad was well liked and respected at every job he held. Of course, his favorite job was being Dad to his kids, and husband to his wife, my mother-in-law, Joann. Dad was a gentle man, and he worked hard to allow Mom the ability to stay home and raise the kids. As we all know daycare is very expensive, and if the mom can stay home with the kids, I’m all for it.

Dad’s work often had him leaving the house quite early, like 3:00am, and he usually stopped at the Ghost Town Truck Stop for a cup of coffee to take on the road with him. One day, he came into the truck stop, and was surprised to see his teenaged son, Bob (my husband) in the truck stop playing pinball. Well, I’m sure that you realize that a young teenaged boy (maybe 13 or 14) had no business being in a truck stop playing pinball at 3:00 in the morning. Bob had snuck out of the house, because he loved to play pinball. I can imagine just what was going through Bob’s mind at the moment his dad came up and put his hand on Bob’s shoulder. Yikes!! I can also imagine what my father-in-law was thinking too…”So, do I yell at my boy, or laugh at the fact that my boy wants to play pinball so bad, that he snuck out to do so?” Bob wasn’t out getting in trouble. He just wanted to play a kids game. I have a feeling my father-in-law had a hard time not laughing when he said o Bob, “You had better get home before your mom catches you!!” Well, Bob knew his dad was right, and probably didn’t notice the slight smile on his face. He just knew that if his dad was up and on his way to work, his mom would be up soon, and he had better get home. So, he told his dad goodbye and headed for home. It was a different time. Kids back then were a little safer walking home, especially since it was only a block or so away, so as his son headed for the house, my father-in-law headed for work, probably laughing the whole way.

My father-in-law, was a man who always saw humor in the situations around him. That is one of the things I liked about him from the moment I met him. I was an 18-year-old girl, meeting the family of the man I loved for the first time, and boy, was I nervous!! My future father-in-law, not only made me feel welcome, but he broke the tension (felt only by me) by making me laugh. After that, I never had an uncomfortable moment in Bob’s parents’ home. I found that my in-laws were such easy people to get along with, and that they would always be a blessing to me, but it would always be my father-in-law, who made me feel comfortable in that first dinner with them. I was a shy girl, but after that, I was no longer shy around my in-laws. Such a blessing to be sure. Today would have been my father-in-law’s 92nd birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Dad. We love and miss you very much, and can’t wait to see you again in Heaven.

came from a totally different era and had a totally different meaning. For example, when we talk about sitting down with someone to have a long talk, we might say, we are going to “chew the fat” with them. This was originally a sailor’s term, that refers to the days before refrigeration when ships carried food that wouldn’t spoil. One such food was salted pork skin, which was largely fat. Sailors would only eat it if all other food was gone, and they often complained while they ate it. This idle chatter became known as “chewing the fat.”

The “blue moon” is one of my favorite and often used sayings, and it is a real astronomical phenomenon. The “blue moon” is the second full moon in the same month. It’s a rare occurrence, happening just once every 2.7 years, which is how the phrase came to be. Usually, a blue moon just looks gray or white like any other full moon, but on even rarer occasions, the moon actually does seem to change color. During volcanic eruptions or forest fires, the oils in smoke can make the moon appear blue, according to NASA.

We have all walked by the carnival games and maybe even played them. Carnival games nowadays give out stuffed animals as prizes, but in the late 19th century, the games were targeted to adults, not kids. The winners, instead of getting a giant teddy bear, might get a cigar. If they almost won but didn’t earn that prize, they’d be “close, but no cigar.” The phrase stuck as meaning getting close, but in the end, failing to reach the goal. By the 1930s, the phrase became fairly common…even outside of the fairgrounds.

We have all heard the expression “flying off the handle,” but most of us think it is an expression for getting angry. That is true, but it’s not really where the saying originated. The saying “fly off the handle” originates from the 1800s. It’s a saying that refers to axe-heads flying off their handles when swung backward before a chop. The axe-heads were not as securely fastened in those days, so it was a good idea to give the user some space…much like you do when someone gets very angry, and “flies off the handle” is the sense of how the phrase is used today. And, anyone who was on the receiving end of the anger form of “flying off the handle” knew that they probably needed to duck and cover, because the person who was “flying off the handle” was really mad!! The next time you find yourself saying these, or any number of “old sayings” you might want to think about how that “old saying” really came into being. Some are funny, while others might just make you want to “fly off the handle.”

My great grand-niece, Alice Green is such a sweet girl. I love her personality, because she is so loving and caring. For the early part of her life, Alice was an only child. Then her mom, Melanie Harman met her step-dad, Jake Harman and her life changed forever. Before long Alice had a little sister named Izabella, and soon after, a little brother named Jaxx. Siblings was one thing Alice had wanted for a long time. The good news was she only had to wait until she was a little past three to get her first sibling. The lonely days without a sibling were almost over. As soon as Belle could play, Alice was set. She is such a fun-loving girl, and the giggling in the Harman household runs wild…especially with the added kid stuff from Jake, who is a kid at heart.

These days, Alice is growing up quite quickly. At nine years old, Alice is already acting like a teenager. Some kids mature quickly in that way. She is definitely growing up! Alice has her own views and opinions about things these days. In the past, she cared more about her toys and getting dirty as much as she possibly could. Maybe a little bit of a tomboy in her there. These days, her sister and brother are very much her top priority. She loves them very much and enjoys being with them and entertaining them. I suppose there could come a day when Alice will wish her siblings would leave her alone, but that is pretty normal. I think that as the years go by these three will grow closer and closer. They fight, even now, but that is totally common among siblings too. Nevertheless, Alice feels totally blessed to have her sister and brother in her life.

Alice and her step-dad, Jake also have a special relationship. Jake was never one to exclude Alice in any way. When he married Melanie, he accepted Alice as his own daughter. They love to tease each other, and as is common in the Harman household, “random rudeness” is just part of the daily activities. Alice has embraced “random rudeness” and can dish it out as effectively as the next guy. She also loves to just randomly tackle Jake and this give him hugs. He has proven to be a real dad to her, and she loves him very much, and he considers Alice his own child. You don’t have to be related by blood, to be related by love. Today is Alice’s 9th birthday. Happy birthday Alice!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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