My Aunt Sandy Pattan is the family history guru in the Byer family. As a child, she was sickly, and so spent a lot of time in bed. Being home from school, just Aunt Sandy and her mom, my grandma, Hattie Byer, gave them much time to sit and talk. Remember that while television did exist, it was not common in most homes, and I don’t believe that my grandparents had one when the kids were growing up. There were too many other things that the family needed in the home, like food, for example. Video games were not invented yet, so Aunt Sandy was left with books, and Grandma’s stories to entertain her through the hours over recuperating from this cold or that flu, which seemed to attack her often.
My grandmother grew up in the early 1900s, and by the time Aunt Sandy came along in 1945, Grandma and Grandpa had eight other children. Aunt Sandy would be their last child. While Grandma and Grandpa disagreed on her name, Grandpa honored their decision to let the older kids decide between Sonya and Sandra. He was an honorable man. Grandma told her youngest child about a time when the Indians being around, wasn’t all that unusual. Many of her stories might have come from her parents and in-laws tales, but she remembered them all, and passed them on to her daughter, who absorbed them like a sponge. I recall my history classes in school, filled with dry boring date memorization, but when history is told like the story it is, it is amazingly interesting. That’s how Aunt Sandy got to learn history…or shall I say really learn history. When you think about an Indian who spends hours sitting on his horse looking at the wife of a respected friend, because he thought she was beautiful, and still never disrespecting her, because she was the wife of his friend, and you know that the woman was your grandmother, you can begin to relate to history as a story.
Aunt Sandy has never lost her love of history, and especially family history. Her parents came from large families and then went on to have a large family, so there was a lot of interesting activities. From the days of gunslingers to the first planes, cars, television, and so many other inventions, her parents had seen it all…or at least heard all about it. The events of history are so amazing, that the current days seem to pale in comparison. I now that my Aunt Sandy loved hearing all the family stories as they were passed down from mother to daughter, and I’m sure that she thought her family was the most amazing on in history, but the reality is that they were probably just a normal, every day, run of the mill families, living their life in the normal way for the times. It’s just that to the hearer of the story of history, it is so far back in time, and so unusual compared to today’s world, that it seems almost far-fetched, except that it isn’t. It’s the true story of history, and like Aunt Sandy, I will always be grateful to be the one the stories are told to. Today is Aunt Sandy’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
My niece, Kelli Schulenberg hates the winter cold, but since she lives in Wyoming, and we get winter here, like it or not, Kelli has been learning to adapt. She has always loved hiking, and spending time in the mountains, but the wintertime was simply not her favorite time of year. Nevertheless, I think that Kelli is coming around to the Wyoming way of thinking. Ok, maybe not, but she is adapting to the winter a little bit anyway. These days Kelli can be found cross country skiing and horseshoeing in the winter on the mountains. Maybe she is adapting more than I have, and I’ve lived here years longer than Kelli has. While I love hiking and being outdoors, especially in the mountains, I have no desire too go skiing or horseshoeing…or anything else that has to do with winter in the outdoors, even though I love Wyoming. Kelli loves to travel, and that’s something we both agree on. She and her husband, Barry have taken many trips to beautiful places around the United States. While many of the trips have been to attend concerts, they have gone through some beautiful country too. I’m sure that Kelli will always prefer summer to winter, and probably Texas to Wyoming, but for now, she is adapting.
She is a purist when it comes to the country, enjoying country life, but very much against the industrialization thereof. When she and Barry bought a piece of land east of Casper, it was quiet and peaceful…until a company put up a wind farm behind their house. I have long been fascinated by the big wind turbines, but I have never lived next to one, so quite possibly I don’t know how loud they are. I suppose they would be an eyesore, when located net to your nice, quiet backyard. I also don’t know if they would be a problem, if one were to think about raising donkeys, which has been a lifelong dream of Kelli’s. Maybe, the animals would be spooked by the wind turbine, for all I know of them. All that doesn’t really matter, because the turbines are there, and they are there to stay.
Kelli is a bubbly person, who loves to laugh. She has a great smile, which is most likely what attracted my nephew to her in the first place. She is fun loving and outgoing. Her love of travel has opened many new vistas to Barry, as they have traveled more together than he ever did before their marriage. Whatever else it was that attracted them to each other, it was definitely true love, because they have been married for almost 15 years now, and they are still going strong. It must be love. Today is Kelli’s birthday. Happy birthday Kelli!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
The longer we are married, the more blessed I feel with my soulmate. And…I’m not the only one that is blessed by my husband. Bob is a mechanic…through and through. For years before he had his own garage, we went to his parents house so he could work on cars there. When we bought our current house, it didn’t have a garage either, but it had enough room in back to build one, so we did. It was strange for him to simply have to go out in the back yard to get to the garage where he was working on someone’s car, but it made him very happy. In fact, I can’t think of a “gift” Bob has enjoyed more, or gotten more use out of than his garage. Most people would not even consider the garage to be a gift, but for Bob, it really was. No longer would he have to stand out in the wind and cold to work on a car, or make a trip to his parents’ house to work on a car. He had a place of his own to do that.
Bob has been working on the cars of his friends and family for as ling as I’ve known him. People often ask him, or me, if he ever gets tired of it. The answer is always quick, “No, he likes it. It makes him happy.” Most people want to come home after a long day at work and just relax, but not Bob. There’s lots of time to relax after it get dark. I suppose that Bob is of the “make hay while the sun shines” generation. After a long day at work, Bob would often put in another couple of hours out in the garage. Finally, he found that he had too much to do to waste time going to work anymore. That was a couple of years ago, and he hasn’t changed his mind about that one bit. He likes working for himself much better!!
After his retirement, I think lots of people thought Bob was just going to park in front of the television set and fade away. They were wrong. Bob’s work continued..it just changed locations…and bosses. No he simply walks out the back door to go to “work,” if that’s what you choose to call it. As to his boss, I’ve tried to tell him that I’m his boss now, but he doesn’t believe me. In fact, he seems to think that he is his boss, and I supposed he is right, but I don’t think I’ll ever admit to that. It doesn’t matter anyway, since he is doing what makes him happy…no matter who is bossing him. Today is Bob’s birthday. Happy birthday Bob!! Have a great day!! I’ll love you forever and ever.
Every year on October 31st, kids all over the country take to the streets, knocking on doors to collect a bounty of candy…whether they need it or not. My kids and grandkids are all beyond the trick or treat stage now, but that doesn’t stop some of them from dressing up for work and parties they have been invited to. My nieces and nephews have a great time each year, and the costumes are as varied as the imaginations of the people wearing them. My niece Jenny and her husband Steve always have a party on Halloween, so that all the family can gather and enjoy each other’s company. Jenny and Steve have come up with a variety of costumes over the years…from Indians to cowboy and dance hall girl. And then there’s my niece, Kellie, who uses the workplace to create a costume…I guess writing insurance for Progressive has it’s perks…I should have thought of that, since my daughter Amy and I write for Progressive too. My granddaughter, Shai has told me that she is planning to dress up for work tonight too, at Outback Steakhouse. I think she should go as a Bloomin’ Onion, but I don’t expect her to take my advice.
When I was a kid, Halloween was pretty much a kids game, and while Dad always took us trick or treating, the night belonged to us. My parents never dressed up, nor did any other adults I knew. We didn’t bother with a little Jack-O-Lantern basket for our candy, because that didn’t hold enough…just take a pillow case. It was sure to be full by the time you got home. Dad was always a good sport, taking us out as long as we could stand it, which was quite a while if the night wasn’t too cold. We didn’t go to places like the mall…we didn’t have one anyway…or other businesses, because there was very little worry about tainted candy. It was just a very different time. These days people must be much more careful, and maybe that is why there are more parties, and less trick or treating.
Halloween will always be a kids game, I suppose, but these days it’s not just for kids, and the people I am around that dress up are not kids…or maybe they are. They say some people never grow up, and it could be that the ones that dress up just have a little bit of a kid still living on the inside of them. Here’s to childhood, and never growing old!! Happy Halloween everyone!!
The older I get, the less I seem to be able to tolerate Winter. The early winter storms we have received this year…in the fall, have done nothing to improve the feeling of dread I get as Winter approaches. It wasn’t always that way, of course. As a kid, I can remember being more than ready to go outside when it snowed. Building snowmen and making snow angels always seemed like so much fun. And, if you could get someone to push you on a sled, then you really had a great time. Snowball fights and snow forts are a must for winter fun, and it didn’t matter if you could throw a snowball with any accuracy or not.
I do remember those days…when I associated snow with fun, and somehow managed to forget how cold playing outside in Winter made me. Was I warmer then, somehow…or was it that I had more energy to do more moving back then? I suppose that it could be a bit of both, and no matter what the reason was, I just don’t seem to have that same ability to stay warm any more. Sometimes, I wish I did, because I’m going to be living in Casper, Wyoming, and like it or not, we get Winter here in Wyoming.
There will always be kids, who can’t wait to get out there in the snow, and some of those “kids” will likely be of the adult kind, but there will also always those who, like me, are seriously over the cold. My sister-in-law, Jennifer loves to go skiing, my sister, Allyn’s family love to get out there in the snow, and my sister, Cheryl loves the cold, although not really the snow. They can have it if you ask me, because I am a definite Summer person…ok maybe Spring…but definitely not Winter.
As it says in the Bible, “there is a time to every purpose under Heaven” and I guess that applies to the Winter cold too. There is a time when kids love the cold and the fun they can have there, and then there is a time when these same kids, now adults find themselves feeling totally over the Winter…and it hasn’t even started yet!
Kids always seem to do things in grand style. They never start out small and work their way up once they have some experience under their belt. It doesn’t seem to matter what it is, they always do things in a big way. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the things they are doing will not be done well, just that they might be over-done to a degree.
My Uncle Bill and my dad were pretty handy with tools and building things, so when they set themselves to the task of building a home for their dog Shep, they felt confident that they knew what they were doing and that they could do a good job. They loved Shep and they wanted him to have a good home to live in. In their minds, maybe Shep was a bigger dog than he was in reality or maybe they just wanted his home to be roomy enough for him to be comfortable. Or, it could have simply been a matter of their calculations being a little bit off…Uncle Bill doesn’t really clarify that. Nevertheless, when the house was built, it was…well, grand!! It wasn’t that they lined it with gold or anything, but it definitely had a vaulted ceiling.
When their mother, my grandmother saw the dog house, she got such a kick out of it that he dubbed it the two story dog house. When you look at it, she was right. It looked like it had a loft in the upper area. Of course, in reality, Shep had a smaller dog house that looked really big on the inside. If any of the kids had wanted to spend the night out there with the dog, they probably could have stood up inside.
Looking back as young men, I’m sure they have all had a good laugh a time or two about that old dog house. These days, they would never have wasted the wood on such an extravagant dog house, especially since all that open space probably provided less warmth than a smaller dog house might have, but they were little boys, trying to do a good thing for their beloved dog. I am equally sure that Shep appreciated their efforts, and never told them about it…if the house felt cold due to the extra space.
In years gone by, when it wasn’t as easy to get to your job site as it is today, many people lived as near their work as possible, especially when their work was out in the woods. Jobs in the cities and towns don’t require long drives, but when you travel on a horse, and work from sunrise to sunset; it’s nice to be close to home. Working in the logging industry, like my grandparents did, living in the woods was just part of the job.
I’m told that their little cabin in the woods was near International Falls, Minnesota, where their daughter, my Aunt Laura was born. I would imagine that the winters were very cold there, and the best thing for anyone who could was to stay indoors, but them I seriously doubt that my grandmother was a woman who was afraid of a little but of cold and snow. Still, the cold and snow would really make it hard to work out in the woods…nevertheless, that was the job that had to be done. Maybe that was another good reason to live near your work. You could get home to the nice warm house sooner, and maybe even be able to go home for lunch.
When I look at these pictures, it reminds me of the “Little House on the Prairie” books. Everywhere you look seems to be a new adventure. I can imagine how the Ingalls girls felt living there…the adventures they must have had…the adventures my Aunt Laura must have had there, playing with the children of the other logging families that lived in the woods too. I’m sure there was an abundance of forest animals to see and be in awe of. I love photographing the animals…when I happen to be in the right place at the right time. The pictures can be amazing. I can imagine all the beauty all around the little cabin in the woods.
As much as I dislike snow, and the inevitable wind that always seems to come with it, there are times when, if I have just a moment of free time, and if I stop long enough, I can look at the snow and possibly see something beautiful. It’s hard to do that though…slow down…look around…stop and smell the roses, so to speak. Everything in life these days demands a hectic schedule. Every day I try to cram everything I need to do into a day that doesn’t have enough moments in it, let alone hours.
I had just such a moment on New Years Eve. I had the day off, and Bob had to work. I still had my caregiving duties, but I had a little bit of quiet time late in the morning. I took a look outside, and there it was. The wind had quit. The snow was a little bit windblown, but smooth in many ways. The sun had come out and was shining brightly on the snow. The air was cold…frigid really, but it didn’t matter. I stepped outside, and looked at the snow. The sun was so bright, it made my eyes water, but I still couldn’t take my eyes off of it.
The snow was beautiful, but looking deeper I saw what the snow tries to hide from those who just casually glance at it. So often we miss the deep inner beauty of the snow. There in front of my eyes I saw the riches of the snow…the gems that it had been hiding…snow diamonds. “What”, you might ask, “are snow diamonds?” Well, they are not just ice crystals sparkling in the sunshine. They are much more than that. They are the little glimmer of hope that no matter how heavy our burdens are…no matter how tough our job or our life is…there are still beautiful things around us that can lift our spirits, brighten our days, soothe our souls, and mend the brokenness that comes from a life that is lived far too often in a hurry.
As I stood there in the crisp cold air, looking once more at the beauty that had been pointed out to me by my Lord, in an effort to show me the things He has made that I might have missed, I felt a warmth inside me…a smile that started in my heart and after making a brief stop in my consciousness, it came to rest on my face. I closed my eyes so I could fix the image in my memory. With their beauty, the snow diamonds had completed their appointed work. They had lifted this caregiver’s spirit…brightened my day…and made me feel like I could breathe again.
Along about this time of year, my thoughts turn to Summer. I know that sounds odd, since it is almost officially Winter, but since Winter is the season I dislike the most, I start thinking about Summer. The days start getting longer after the 21st of December, so for me that signals the down hill run to Summer. I like being outdoors, but not in the cold weather, so I don’t ski, snowmobile, or any of the other Winter sports. For me, it is hiking in a beautiful, warm, green forest that turns my mood around…and there is just something about making it past that half way mark between one Summer and the next Summer that puts a little skip in my step.
It is at this point that I feel like I can survive the cold, dark Winter, which has not, at least so far, been so cold this year…but then, we are just getting started really. The wind this years, however, is a very different story. What we have lacked in cold, we have definitely made up for in wind. I’m not really sure which one I think is worse, but a good guess by a very small margin would be the wind. After a couple of days of constant wind, I find myself begging for the storm to just get here already!!
Wyoming is, nevertheless, my home, and I don’t expect to ever live anywhere else. I have resigned myself to our Winters, and like every other Winter since I was 3, I will survive this Wyoming Winter too, but I do find myself liking them less and less every year. The Summers here are wonderful, usually just to my liking. We have had some that were viciously hot, and some that didn’t feel like Summer at all, but for the most part, it is a time when I can bask in the sunshine and warmth of the season, and believe me…I do not think of Winter around the middle of June.
After what was a miserably hot Summer in Wyoming, as in much of the United States, Fall has finally arrived. It’s hard to believe that after praying for rain most of the Summer, we have had rain 3 times this week. I’m not complaining, mind you, but it would have been nice to get some of this rain in the Summer. Nevertheless, the cooler temperatures are finally here, as are the colors of Fall that we all love to see. While I usually say that Summer is my favorite season, and that is still true, this Summer has been so hot, that it was miserable, so for this year only, I think Fall might be my favorite.
While I probably won’t have any more time to get out and walk in this lovely Fall weather, I will do my best. The changing leaves are so pretty, even if we don’t have much of the gorgeous reds that you see back East, the green to yellow is also lovely…especially when those bright colors stretch as far as the eye can see. It looks like the sun landed in the trees.
Fall always brings memories of buying school supplies and clothes, of course that was back when it was closer to Fall when school started, and not still Summer, like these days. It also brings the realization that with Summer’s end and Fall’s beginning, Winter is not far behind. There has even been talk of snow on Wednesday. It always seems like Fall is mixed with Winter in Wyoming, which I wish would not be the case. The changing of the seasons might not seem so bad if they each took their turns. Winter simply needs to understand that it is not supposed to arrive until December 21, so what is with snow before that. Rain I don’t mind, but the snow should wait its turn.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t ask me what I think of it, so I guess my opinion doesn’t matter to it much. All I can do is try to get out and enjoy the Fall weather, before the season slips past me as Summer appears to have done. Like it or not…ready or not…here comes Fall!