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Through the years, there have been items used that we would not use today, and in fact, we might actually laugh at them. One such item is the “mustache cup.” The mustache cup made it’s debut in the Victorian era. During that time, the men with mustaches didn’t want their mustache being dipped into their tea, so the cups were made with a bow-shaped guard to keep the mustache out of the tea.

For those of us without a mustache and those of this era, the possibility of dipping the mustache into the tea was given little, if any thought…even for those with mustaches. “The moustache cup (or mustache cup) is a drinking cup with a semicircular ledge inside. The ledge has a half moon-shaped opening to allow the passage of liquids and serves as a guard to keep moustaches dry. It is generally acknowledged to have been invented in the 1860s by British potter Harvey Adams (born 1835).” The new invention spread all over the European continent and soon, every famous potter was making the new cups. A multiplicity of mustache cups were made by famous manufactories such as Meissen, Royal Crown Derby, Imari, Royal Bayreuth, Limoges, and others. Each potter created his own version of this masculine tableware and the news of that invention soon spread to America.

The Victorian era was a time when the mustaches flourished. In fact, from 1860 to 1916, the British military actually required all of its soldiers to sport a mustache for the authority it imparted to the man with the mustache. Special care was given to the mustache, including mustache wax, which was applied to the moustache to keep it stiff, with every hair in place. When drinking hot liquids, steam from the drink would melt the wax, which would drip into the cup. Sipping hot tea or coffee would also often stain mustaches. Knowing that makes the usage of the mustache cup a little more sensible, and not just some weird passing fad.

Many mustache cups were made in America over the years, with the earliest marked with names which led buyers to believe they were actually manufactured in England. English-made ceramics were very popular…not so much American-made ceramics. So, with the exception of the quadruple silver plate mustache cups made in the United States, it is extremely difficult to find an authentic Victorian mustache cup bearing an American pottery mark these days.

The mustache cup began to go out of style between 1920 and 1930, and so mustache cup production trickled to a halt. Today, with the collectors of all things antique, these examples of Victorian male elegance are coveted by a growing number of enthusiasts. There are also still those who use mustache wax, and it would seem that the mustache cup is still an item of necessity for these men.

My Uncle Elmer Johnson, was a character. From what I’ve seen of men from that era, my dad, Al Spencer and his brother, Bill included, thee pranks Uncle Elmer and his brother, Les played were…a bit different from what we played as kids. The boys from their era might make their dad think they were going to run the outhouse over with a tractor, assuming no one knew that he was inside. Of course, they would be in trouble when he came running out with his pants down, in an effort to save his own life. Kids back then, living on a farm, thought nothing of driving a tractor or using dynamite, and there is no end to the ideas they might come up with to play a prank on someone with such items. While Uncle Elmer and his brothers were prone to pranks, it didn’t make them bad kids…just typical mischievous kids…especially in that era.

Uncle Elmer loved holidays. My cousin, Elmer…his dad’s namesake, tells me that his dad literally spoiled the family at Christmas, which was his favorite holiday. I can understand that. Don’t we all wish we had the money to spoil our kids to the max at Christmas. There are so many cool new things out, every year, and you want to give your kids that latest toy or gadget. Every year, someone invents some new cool item, an every kid wants one. It would be awesome to be able to give your kid every great new thing they wanted, and I know that Uncle Elmer wanted to do just that.

Uncle Elmer loved his Harley Davidson motorcycle, and he and his brother “terrorized” the cops in Evansville, racing around, and if I guess right, getting multiple speeding tickets for it. They didn’t worry too much about that, because as we all know, motorcycles are meant to go fast. Uncle Elmer and his brothers, Les and Tom, loved their machines…of any kind. Uncle Elmer drove semi-trucks for many years. He loved the open road, a trait that fit well into his past of tractors, motorcycles, and trucks. Today would have been Uncle Elmer’s 88th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Uncle Elmer. We love and miss you very much.

My husband, Bob Schulenberg’s uncle, Butch Hein is a rancher in Forsyth, Montana. Over the years, Bob and I have made many trips up to Forsyth to visit the family up there. While Butch is Bob’s uncle, he is only 9 years older than Bob is. That said, they had similar interests over the years. Butch didn’t really seem like an uncle to Bob, exactly. When he was a boy, Bob spent several weeks in the summers up at Grandma and Grandpa Hein’s house…Butch’s parents. Bob went to see them, but also to help out on their ranch. That was before Butch went into ranching himself, so the boys worked together in whatever need doing. Working together made for a closer relationship I’m sure, so when Bob was out of high school, and living on his own, he and his friend, Paul went up to visit the family in Montana. While that was a great idea, it was also a recipe for disaster…at least to Grandma Hein.

Butch, Bob, and Paul went out to the bar that night, because it was legal for Bob and Paul to drink in Montana, so the three of them went to the bar…mainly because there isn’t a whole lot of other things to do in Forsyth, Montana, due to its small size. The three of them had an…interesting evening. While sitting in the bar, and with Bob and Paul being somewhat inexperienced in the art of drinking, Butch had them try several drinks that he liked. Well, maybe some people can mix different kinds of alcohol and have no problem, but Bob and Paul were not those people. By the time they left the bar, both Bob and Paul were pretty tipsy…and that, is an understatement. Then they had to go back to Grandma’s, where they were staying, and it was at that point that they became her problem. I haven’t heard that the boys got sick or anything, but I would not be surprised. Nevertheless, in the morning, Grandma had two very hungover young men on her hands, and a son who, in her opinion was to blame. Butch was in the dog house with Grandma for quite some time, but Grandma finally forgave Butch for leading Bob astray. I’m sure he was very relieved. Nobody wants their mom mad at them.

Butch went on to become a great dad and later grandpa. He and his son, Scott run a large and successful ranch in the Forsyth area, and they are always busy. They are often on horses for hours a day. Butch had to have back surgery a while back, and I don’t know if that was caused by ranch work, but I would not be surprised. I don’t think he has ever been thrown off of a horse, but I don’t hear just everything that goes on. I suppose riding a horse and falling off of a horse go hand in hand sometimes. Anyway, he is doing much better since the surgery, and I pray it stays that way. Today is Butch’s 76th birthday. Happy birthday Butch!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grandson, Caalab Royce is such an upbeat kind of guy. He has a great sense of humor, and loves to make people laugh. I remember when his was just a little boy. He could tell a joke, and never forget the punchline. There are many adults who can’t recall the punchline of a joke, but the joke always made sense to Caalab, so the punchline just naturally followed, and anyone within hearing distance couldn’t help but laugh. I truly think he could have been a comedian, but then, I guess he is. He just doesn’t get paid for it, and lets face it, that is a field you can’t really count on anyway. The comedians on this day, will be gone tomorrow, because their particular sense of humor is no longer thought to be as funny as it was yesterday. Better to be a jokester, because you can tell the jokes of the day with ease, and you always get the laughs.

As a little boy, one of the funniest things Caalab said was, “I’m older than you.” He was just a little guy, but he knew the “importance” of being a grown up. The funny thing is that like most men, I don’t think Caalab has ever really grown up. I don’t mean to say that he acts childish, but men who have never lost the idea of the funny side of life is a big part of what I mean when I say that they have never grown up. Caalab, wasn’t really wanting to be grown up, but it was more like trying to make people laugh. It worked with me, but not so much with his big sister, who as a Leap Day Baby was technically younger than her younger brother. “I’m older than you” was his way of picking on his sister, and she was not amused, hahaha!!

Caalab loves music, and plays the guitar with his dad, Travis Royce often. In fact it is a family band kind of thing, and I love hearing them play and look forward to hearing it again when we visit later this summer. Caalab is quite talented, something he got from his dad, Travis, who also plays the guitar. I don’t think his dad ever took lessons, but Caalab loved the guitar so much that he took it is high school. He was very good then too. These days, Caalab and his dad, along with his sister Shai, who is learning the Mandolin, play for family and friends…all of whom feel very privileged to be in the audience. The family often has family sing-a-longs on family night, which is wonderful to attend.

Caalab grew into a great young man, and I am very proud of him. He and the rest of my daughter, Amy Royce’s family live in the Bellingham area of Washington state, and I miss them all very much. Caalab has a wonderful girlfriend named Chloe Foster, who is so perfect for him. She has endeared herself not only to Caalab, but to the rest of our family too. They are just perfect together, and that makes me very happy. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for these two precious kids. I love watching how my grandchildren have grown and how they are becoming their best selves. Caalab will always be the best comedian among my grandchildren. It’s just in his nature. Today is Caalab’s 24th birthday. Happy birthday Caalab!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Hans Island is a desolate little rock of an island locate near Greenland in the center of what is known as the Kennedy Channel of Nares Strait. This is the strait that separates Ellesmere Island from northern Greenland and connects Baffin Bay with the Lincoln Sea. The island is barren and uninhabited, measuring 0.5 square mile, 4,230 feet long and 3,934 feet wide. Hans Island is the smallest of three islands in Kennedy Channel off the Washington Land coast; the others are Franklin Island and Crozier Island. The strait at this point is 22 miles wide, placing the island within the territorial waters of both Canada and Greenland (Denmark). Technically, a line in the middle of the strait goes through the island.

Most people would look at this island and say, “Ok, it is technically half Canadian and half Greenland (Denmark), but seriously, who cares?” It is a piece of rock that has no value, so there it is and nobody cares. The problem is that…oddly, both sides care…a great deal. You might be wondering why, at this point. Well, you would not be alone. I am wondering why too. For some reason, Canada and Denmark have been…well, playfully fighting over the control of this little piece of ground. Every so often, when officials from each country visit, they leave a bottle of their country’s liquor as a…power move. It really makes no sense. The island has no reserves of oil or natural gas, or anything else that would make it valuable, and yet it is the subject of an ongoing territorial dispute between Denmark and Canada over who owns this little rock…and it’s such an odd dispute at that. It will barely increase the respective countries’ land mass and yet they continue to “fight” over it.

Unlike many other territory conflicts, this one is fought in a markedly peaceful way. The potential serious diplomatic implications aside, the Canadians and Danes take turns placing their flags on the island. This curious practice that has been going on since the 1980s. But it gets even odder. The island was first disputed in 1933, but largely forgotten during World War II. The unusual dispute began again in earnest in 1984 when, during a visit to the island, the Danish Minister for Greenland planted the national flag and left a message saying “Welcome to the Danish island” (“Velkommen til den danske ø” in Danish) along with (it is said) a bottle of brandy. Ever since then, when the flag on the island is periodically changed between the Danish and Canadian flag, the bottle is also replaced. The Canadians leave a bottle of Canadian Club and the Danes a bottle of schnapps.

While the conflict is “lighthearted,” it is really a serious conflict, and remains unresolved today. At one point, it looked like they might have a solution. On May 4, 2008, an international group of scientists from Australia, Canada, Denmark, and the UK installed an automated weather station on Hans Island. To me that makes the most sense. Just share the island or let it be considered international. That isn’t exactly what happened, however. There were a number of people who think that there might be some minerals on Hans Island, making it a possible valuable island after all…and renewing the conflict. Oh boy, here we go again.

The conflict is as of today still unresolved, but there are suggestions on how to move forward. Arctic experts from Canada and Denmark propose making Hans Island into a condominium, a solution that has proven to resolve other conflicts in the past. I wasn’t sure what that was, but basically it is an agreement to share the island. It sometimes works temporarily, but usually doesn’t work long term. Most nations, Canada and Denmark included don’t like the idea of giving up their sovereignty. Time will tell, I guess, but if you ask me, the whole thing is…well, it’s just comical.

My aunt, Virginia Beadle spent time out in nature with her family as a child when her dad, my grandpa, George Byer took the family out rock hunting, so she knew about snakes. In the years before her passing on November 29, 2019, at 89 years of age, Aunt Virginia lived with her son Steve Beadle and his wife, Wanda, and later with her son Bill Beadle and his wife, Janie. While she was living with Wanda and Steve, Aunt Virginia stepped out the front door of the house, and immediately back in. She told the boys that there was a rattle snake by the front door, and she said it was huge!! The boys thought she was a typical girl, afraid of any old snake. They said it was probably a garter snake. Well, it wasn’t a garter snake, and Aunt Virginia wasn’t a typical girl who was afraid of a snake. After Steve had killed the rattle snake and cut off his head and rattle, he measured the snake. Steve is 5’8″, and just holding the snake up, it hit the ground when Steve held it just under his chin. That is a big snake. I’m sure the boys believed that she knew a rattle snake when she saw one after that.

Steve was reminded of a story his mom (my Aunt Virginia) told him. She was about 4 or 5 years old, and the family was living in a sod house. Aunt Virginia was outside playing and she saw a string of beads on the ground. She picked them up and went inside to has her dad, my grandpa, George Byer, if she could keep the beads. Her dad was shaving, and when asked, he told her yes, then thought maybe he should see what she was wanting to keep. When he looked down, he saw that she was holding a blue racer snake by the tail…and it was trying to bite her. He quickly grabbed it and stomped on its head. Aunt Virginia is pretty sure that is where her fear of snakes came from. Steve also said, “If Mom says it’s a big dang snake, it’s a BIG dang snake!!”

A few years ago, Wanda and Steve decided to lift Aunt Virginia’s spirits following her husband, my Uncle Bill’s passing. Aunt Virginia had told Wanda, during one of their many conversations, that she had always dreamed of a bedroom that was red and gray. She had wanted that bedroom all of her adult life. Without telling Aunt Virginia what they were doing, Wanda and Steve gave Aunt Virginia that bedroom that she had always dreamed of. She told them it was “too beautiful to sleep in” when she saw it. She never thought her dream would come true, but that day, with tears of joy streaming down her cheeks, Aunt Virginia saw the beautiful bedroom her kids had given her. That bedroom was their gift to her, but it was more than that…it was their love for her, and she knew that. She knew they loved her before that, of course, but to take a lifelong dream and make it a reality…well, she felt like a princess. And then there were the PJs. Aunt Virginia and Wanda loved their PJs, and I think that’s very cool.

Aunt Virginia had three little fur babies that she loved very much. Her idea of a wonderful way to spend time was to sit out on the deck, that had been beautifully furnished with new deck chairs with lots of padding and ottomans, as a gift for her birthday one year. Aunt Virginia loved sitting on the deck with the puppies, Molly, Whiskey, and Rosie…babies that she claimed for her very own. She sat on “her” deck with “her” puppies every chance she got. She would also sit under the covered pergola and do her puzzles. Wanda swore me to secrecy here, so don’t tell, but she did more sleeping than puzzling. Aunt Virginia went to heaven on November 29, 2019, and this past April, her little puppy, Rosie went to join her there. Rosie was the puppy that always greeted Aunt Virginia in the hallway, every morning when she got up, and now Aunt Virginia got to greet Rosie when she went home too. Rosie was the one that greeted her in the hallway every single day when she got up. Rosie adored Aunt Virginia, and now they are together forever, and since Rosie’s birthday was yesterday and Aunt Virginia’s 91st birthday is today, they can celebrate together in beautiful Heaven style. Happy birthday in Heaven, Aunt Virginia. We love and miss you very much.

My sister, Alena Stevens retired from the school district last year, in what was probably the weirdest retirement ever. She had planned to retire at the end of the school year, but then everything got very crazy. Spring break turned into the unofficial end of the in-class school day, and after a while, all that was left was to sort out the students’ belongings so they could stop by the school, and the staff would bring the belongings out to them. Alena’s job pretty much ended in March rather than June.

That wasn’t the only work oddity in Alena’s working career either. Alena worked at Kmart in her teen years, as did I…it must be a family trend. Anyway, she was walking to work from our house, which was less than a block away, and for some reason our youngest sister, Allyn Hadlock was in her own car, sitting in front of the house. This was back in the days of the CB radio. We didn’t have cell phones in those days, so if you didn’t mind having everyone within range hearing your conversation, you could pick up the mike and “call” a friend. The unique thing about the CB radio is that it also has a PA built in too…maybe not all of them, but Allyn’s did. So, as Alena was about to turn the corner to head to Kmart, Allyn picked up the Mike and said, “Alschmenerdoodle” over the PA. She made sure to say it in a long drawn out manner…and very loud. Alena stopped in her tracks and turned around laughing!! You have to understand that our family has a rather long history of making up funny nicknames for each other. I don’t know if Allyn had used that nickname before, but after that it became a standing joke and funny nickname!! Of course, while Alena found that super funny, it just couldn’t stand without “retaliation.” From that point and for a long time, Alena called Allyn “Alschminerdoodle!” Hahahahaha!! I don’t know, maybe retirement is the best move for Alena!! Work gets very odd for her…although, she did meet her husband Mike Stevens while working at Shellabarger Chevrolet, so there is that.

These days, Alena’s favorite title is grandma. She loves spending time with her granddaughter, Elliott Stevens. Elliott is a perfect fit in our family, not just because she is blood relation, but because she is humor related. She is so funny, and I just know that Elliott will get right in there and come up with a new generation of nicknames. Alena loves spending time with Elliott, and they love being silly together.

This year, Alena and her husband, Mike purchased a new camper trailer, and with summer finally upon us, they are looking forward to doing some camping at Pathfinder Reservoir. It will be a fun time with family, and especially Alena, because she knows that she doesn’t have to go back to work when the summer is over. That takes some getting used to after retirement, but it sure is nice to remember that every time it comes to mind. Today is Alena’s 60th birthday. I hope I’m not in trouble for telling her age. Happy birthday Alena!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

The lumber industry is a well known part of Grays Harbor County, Washington. Cities like Aberdeen and Hoquiam owe their existence to the lumber industry. During the first quarter of the 20th century, Grays Harbor was considered as the biggest lumber-producing and lumber-shipping region in the world. It would be great if timber came in perfect sizes and shapes, but it doesn’t. It comes in forms from huge logs to tiny planks, from thick wooden beams to thin spruce veneer. When it comes to the construction industry, bits and pieces are worthless. They want specific sizes and shapes, and in order to get those perfect pieces of lumber for the construction industry, there is always waste. It might come in the form of small blocks to super thin veneer pieces.

Wood has long been used in the fashion industry too. Everything from shoes, to decorations on purses, belts, hats and more, but that was about the extent of it, or so you might think. Apparently, somebody back in 1929 thought that wood veneer sheets could be used as a bathing suit material!! What!! That makes no sense at all. It was totally impractical, but that didn’t stop people from the Gray Harbor Lumber industry from starting an advertising campaign featuring the “Spruce Girls.” The main goal of the campaign was to promote the various products of the wood industry and to make the whole region more popular to visitors.

Spruce veneer bathing suits were described as simple, cheap, and easy to make, yet fashionable and modern. Supposedly they were promoting them as a do it yourself bathing suit. All you needed was a pattern and the leftover thing strips of wood from that construction project. Of course, it was an advertising gimmick, but they did actually made four suits, held a photo session, and ran an advertising campaign to promote wood products.

According to one Popular Science magazine article, the suits were quite trendy and durable: “[Wooden bathing suits] are the latest novelty for use on the bathing beaches. Fashioned of thin spruce, they are said to be practical as costumes and also are sufficiently buoyant to encourage a timid swimmer to take a plunge. So far, none of them has warped or cracked.” The girls in the pictures look happy with their flimsy wooden suits, but only they know if they were really comfortable. My guess is don’t bend at the waist, and watch out for splinters.

After ill health in multiple forms caught up with my sister-in-law, Brenda Schulenberg eight years ago, she set out on the journey that would forever change her life…getting healthy again, and staying that way. The journey was long and hard, but Brenda just kept plugging along, until one day, she found herself of the top of that hill, looking over at the lush green grass on the other side of the rainbow…so to speak. While the metaphor paints a beautiful picture, the real beauty of the picturesque journey Brenda took, as been the views seen from the seat of her bicycle. Brenda struggled with her weight all her life, and riding a bicycle wasn’t something she ever did very much, but when she finally got her weight down to a healthy level, she decided that she wanted to rider a bicycle. She bought a purple bicycle…yes it had to be purple, because Brenda is all about purple…and set out to discover the world of bicycle trails. She doesn’t go on the dirt trails that some people ride on, but there are so many nice paved trails her in Casper, Wyoming, as in many other places too, that she in never hard pressed to find a place to ride.

If I said that Brenda isn’t fanatical, I would be lying. She will get up at 3:30 in the morning just to be ready for work with enough time to hit the trail for a sunrise bicycle ride, before heading into her job in Human Resources at Hilltop National Bank. Lunchtime rides are not out of the question either, if the weather permits. That topping of the hill just to see the other side, is really sort of a motto to Brenda. Brenda has many hilltops under her belt…and many in her future. Brenda has no intention of a backward slide in her health, in fact, she holds a yearly party to remind herself of just how far she has come, and to remind herself to keep plugging along, so she never goes back there again.

While there was a time when food was addictive for Brenda, she is always working to keep that kind of addiction at bay. These days, however, there is an addiction that Brenda still struggles with…shopping. Of course, she doesn’t consider that an addiction that bothers her. Brenda was never really able to buy new clothes, because there was only so much that she could wear, and that was downright depressing, so she shopped from a catalog. These days, however, stuff fits…cute stuff!! Brenda doesn’t have to worry about going to her closet, hoping there is something in it that she can wear. She can wear all of it, and buying new stuff is fun!! Who wouldn’t want to go shopping? If Brenda finds herself going on a road trip, you might as well understand that there will be a mall in the mix. If you are going with her, you should be prepared to hit a few stores. I think her trips are as much planned around the stores and malls, as the city or town she is actually going to visit. From one fanaticism to another, but hey, this one’s healthy. Nothing wrong with a good shopping trip. Today is Brenda’s birthday. Happy birthday Brenda!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

As my nephew, Rob Masterson’s birthday approached, I decided to get an idea of what his kids love about their dad. Kids can give a range of answers based on their age and even gender, but that was not what I got. Rob’s children saw pretty much the exact same things in their dad. They tell me that their dad is a great guy. His sense of humor is…goofy!! He jokes with his kids a lot, always keeping them in stitches. That reminds me of their dad as a kid…not much has changed. He’s still a kid at heart, and his wife, Dustie Masterson, and children, Raelynn, Matt, and Anna Masterson have all been the beneficiaries of his goofy kind of humor, as has his grown daughter, Christina Masterson.

Rob works at Sam’s Club in Casper, where he has been for 4 years. He is the supervisor of Tire and Battery, and he loves when the family can come up for his breaks. He works everyday, but he always takes his kids home after school, even if he has to take a lunch to do so. Those rides home from school are a wonderfully fun time for Rob and the kids. Raelynn says her dad’s a dork, especially on the days when she is particularly drained from school. He’ll joke around and laugh and tease them, making it not to laugh at his antics. She loves getting in the car because it’s never boring. It’s a confident man that can set aside the world’s idea of dignity, and just goof off with his kids.

Raelynn and Matt are both learning to drive right now, and I got the same kids of story from both of them on just how that is going. As we all know, learning to drive is a challenging matter, and there are always the inevitable running of a stop sign, weaving a little, and going too fast (or sometimes too slow), but Rob (and Dustie too) have been really calm and patient when teaching them. Rob has even taught them to parallel park, and for any driver, that is a really important lesson. Road signs can sometimes be difficult to remember, especially if they aren’t a worded road sign. Rob is working with the kids to make sure they know what is really important, and what is secondary. Both Raelynn and Matt have enjoyed their adventures is driving lessons very much. Raelynn told me that her favorite moments with her dad are in the car because he’s just at his dorkiest then. He’ll put his finger close to their ears, if they are ignoring him and wiggle it to annoy them. Somehow, I think I recall that with Rob, hahahaha!!

Rob and Dustie have been been married for 18 years now, and they are still going strong. They are just perfect for each other, because Dustie can be just as goofy as Rob can. Both Rob and Dustie are supervisors, and anyone who works with them will tell you that they can be the funniest people around, but when it comes to work, people are expected to do their job. If they do, it’s all good, and everyone can have a good time…within the confines of job protocol, of course. Rob has an infectious personality, and that makes him somebody very special. Today is Rob’s birthday. Happy birthday Rob!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

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