My niece, Chantel Balcerzak was the first grandchild of my parents, Al and Collene Spencer. From the start, Chantel was a Diva, and very girly. She could have been a model of baby clothes. She was almost always in a pose. Chantel always had so much going for her. She was everything lots of girls wanted to be. She was cute and petite, 4’10” fully grown. She had a super smile, and you couldn’t help but smile with her.

Of course, Chantel has other things going for her. Chantel has a wonderful imagination…both for stories and for art. As she has grown, Chantel’s imagination has grown, and developed into a love of art. She is so creative, and her art is stunning. Recently, Chantel has been painting murals for people around town, and her mural business is really growing. Painting a mural is no easy job. It takes a lot of planning. I’m sure that Chantel started on her own walls, and she has painted so really beautiful murals for her home. The other people heard about her murals, and her business took off.

Chantel also has a wedding business. She doesn’t do the whole wedding, but the flowers, and other decorations. This year she already has flowers for two weddings lined up. She is very skilled at floral arrangements, and word of mouth is one of the best ways to advertise, so her business has really grown.

Chantel and her daughter, Siara Kirk have been working out together for a couple of years now, and they are both crazy strong. they do a lot of the heavy lifting, and they are really good at it. They try to work out during lunch breaks, which kills two birds with one stone. They get their workout in, and they eat less food at lunch. It’s a win-win!! Siara is so proud of her mom’s tenacity.

Chantel is a woman of strong faith. No matter what comes her way, she prays over it and then patiently waits on God to take care of the situation. She has passed that strong faith on to her husband, Dave Balcerzak, and her children. Her strength and her faith have made them very proud too. Chantel and Dave are not only husband and wife…they are best friends. Her daughter, Siara says she is her best friend as well, and always has been. And her sisters dearly love her. Today is Chantel’s birthday. Happy birthday Chantel!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

My grand-niece, Zoey Iverson is an active six-year-old girl with a vivid imagination. Zoey is into sea animals like octopus, jelly fish, and mermaids. I’m quite sure that her little girl’s mind can imagine herself diving and swimming beneath the ocean…looking for octopuses and jelly fish, but secretly hoping to find a real mermaid. She might even decide to bring home a starfish or two, because lets face it she is swimming far beneath the ocean and this is all make believe anyway, right.

Like most six-year-old girls, Zoey loves Barbie, and that makes Barbie Live TV on YouTube a big deal. When Barbie was invented, somebody knew little girls and had the right idea, because Barbie has the glamor and the accessories to make every little girl’s dreams come true, but it’s not the only thing Zoey likes to do. Zoey is learning to ride her bicycle. She is using training wheels, but we all know that doesn’t last long. Kids figure out their bicycle and the freedom it provides pretty quickly. Zoey also love to swim in the pool in the back yard. With the heat of the summer, the backyard pool is the best place to be, and this summer has been pretty hot.

Zoey is headed for 1st grade next year. She will be the youngest student in her class, but she is excelling very fast, so she will not be the bottom of the class by any stretch of the imagination. Zoey is a very smart girl, and loves to learn. She loves writing, practicing her letters, and…coloring everything…even the walls. Yikes!! Its a good thing most crayons wipe off easily, and there re good cleaners to help. After all, an artist needs her canvas…wherever it may be. Imagination simply cannot be corralled!!

With summer, the family has been camping and enjoying the scenery. With the Big Horn Mountains nearby, and so many other beautiful spots in Wyoming, the are lots of camp grounds to choose from. Zoey loves to catch bugs with her bug catcher, go swimming in the creeks, and spend time helping her older brother, Lucas, who is special needs. Zoey has been instrumental in his development. We are all very proud of her. She loves Lucas so much, and he loves her. That might be the reason she is doing so well in school. Teaching others is a great way to learn. Today is Zoey’s 6th birthday. Happy birthday Zoey!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Author of Looking Backward:2000-1887, Edward Bellamy, wrote in the novel first published in 1888 novel, asked his readers to imagine a scene in which a time-traveler from 1887 reacts to a technological advance from the early 21st century that he describes as, “An arrangement for providing everybody with music in their homes, perfect in quality, unlimited in quantity, suited to every mood, and beginning and ceasing at will.” It’s amazing to me that many writers of fiction, see the future in a way most of us can’t. Their imaginations manage to picture a future that sometimes, proves to be uncannily like real life in the future. Jules Verne was that way too.

In Bellamy’s imagination…almost inventor-like, this astonishing feat would be accomplished by a vast network of wires connecting individual homes with centrally located concert halls staffed round-the-clock with live performers. Of course, that would be a difficult task to pull off, but in the end, someone else took care of the finer points of Bellamy’s vision. As we all know, today we can turn on a radio, whether plugged into the outlets in our home, or a portable version that we carry around, and of course, these days every smart phone has the ability to listen wirelessly to radio stations, watch television, and download all the music our hearts could desire.

Bellamy’s vision came to pass much sooner than the 2000 predicted date, and without all the wiring he thought would be needed, but he wasn’t too far off in what the end outcome would be…at least for the homes. I doubt it ever occurred to him that it could all be done wirelessly, or that telephones could have the same capability and much more. Of course, at that time, telephones were still in their very primitive stages. On October 1, 1920, Scientific American magazine reported that the rapidly developing medium of radio would soon be used to broadcast music. A revolution in the role of music in everyday life was about to be born.

“It has been well known for some years that by placing a form of telephone transmitter in a concert hall or at any point where music is being played the sound may be carried over telephone wires to an ordinary telephone receiver at a distant point,” began the bulletin in the October 1, 1920 issue of the popular science monthly, “but it is only recently that a method of transmitting music by radio has been found possible.”
People still argue about radio’s origins to this day, but its basic workings had been understood for upwards of 20 years at the time of this announcement. It was only in the years immediately following World War I, however, that radio made the transition from scientific curiosity to practical technology. Then, by late 1919, Britain, the United States and elsewhere were beginning experiments that would lead to the breakthrough use of radio not just as a replacement for the telegraph, but as a communications and entertainment medium. The idea that Bellamy suggested, was coming to pass…a full 81 years sooner than he had expected.

It was those experiments that led to the public announcement in Scientific American. “Music can be performed at any place, radiated into the air through an ordinary radio transmitting set and received at any other place, even though hundreds of miles away,” the report continued, noting that “the music received can be made as loud as desired by suitable operation of the receiving apparatus.” “Experimental concerts are at present being conducted every Friday evening from 8:30 to 11:00 by the Radio Laboratory of the Bureau of Standard. The possibilities of such centralized radio concerts are great and extremely interesting.” Bellamy’s dream had come to pass.

My aunt, Deloris Johnson, lovingly know to all of us a Aunt Dee was one of the sweetest, most loving people I know. She could also be very protective of those she cared about too, however. She was very protective of her siblings, when she needed to be, but she really liked teaching them things, or buying them things that would be fun for the whole family. Things like the piano that was in my grandparents house for as long as I can remember. Lots of the kids “played” that piano at one time or another. Of course, none of us took lessons, so when I say “played” the piano, I use the term loosely. Nevertheless, I think Aunt Dee played it pretty well.

She was always helping her younger siblings to try new things. “Flying” in the wind, using a coat for wings, was a favorite for Aunt Dee, and the other children too. My mother, Collene Spencer, younger sister of Aunt Dee told me about how much fun they had when Aunt Dee was involved in the activities. I think it was all about the great imagination Aunt Dee possessed. When one of the kids has enough imagination to create fun situations, everyone involved has a great time. That fun person was Aunt Dee. She was the one that made everyone laugh, and I know that from the time she spent with our family. It was always fun to have Aunt Dee come over to our house. Her sweet smile put a smile on everyone’s face.

When we lost Aunt Dee to brain cancer in 1996, her passing left a hole in our hearts. My mom especially felt it, because they were really close. I can’t begin to imagine how much he passing saddened my mom. I can only say how sad it made me. Today would have been Aunt Dee’s 88th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven Aunt Dee. We love and miss you very much.

Husband_KimmelIt seems that whenever something goes wrong in our world, someone must be to blame, and I believe that is often the case. The problem with playing The Blame Game, is that all too often, the person where the real blame should go is not the one who ends up taking the fall. Scapegoats have been around since Bible times, when the sins of the people were placed on a goat and it was sent into the windernesss. That isn’t the type of scapegoat that we see today, however.

Don’t get me wrong, we all play The Blame Game, but politicians seem to be particularly adept at it. A good example is the forced retirement of Rear Admiral Husband E Kimmel, who was relieved of his command of the United States Pacific Fleet on December 17, 1941, just ten days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I don’t say that he bore no blame at all, but in reality, he had no more reason to think that an attack on Pearl Harbor was imminent, than anyone else had. And in reality, the blame needed to fall on our President at the time, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, because he was soft on the Japanese, and basically asked us to trust them, when they were not at all Attack_on_Pearl_Harbor_Japanese_planes_viewtrustworthy. President Roosevelt’s actions…or lack thereof, left us sitting ducks when the Japanese made their move.

Basically, Rear Admiral Kimmel was chosen to take the blame because of his lack of imagination…or so it was said. Kimmel was a creature of habit, and he had expected an attack on Midway Island or Wake Island, and even went so far as to request extra antiaircraft artillery be sent there. None could be spared, and so was not sent. It never occurred to him that the Japanese might attack Pearl Harbor, and therefore he took no special action there. Unfortunately, Kimmel was an easy read by the Japanese, and when he chose not to protect Pearl Harbor, that was where the Japanese made their attack. But, as I said, he had no more reason to expect an attack at Pearl Harbor than anyone else had, and for that reason he should not have born the brunt of the blame.

Kimmel could have faced court martial…a second and even more severe injustice…but in the end, when he requested early retirement, his request was granted. The American people were outraged at this breach in FDR in 1933security, so someone had to take the blame. I really find that to be an unfair way to handle this situation, but it was how it was done anyway. When Admiral Kimmel’s Story, which was an “as told to” autobiography, was published in 1955, the admiral made it clear that he believed President Roosevelt sacrificed him, and his career, to take suspicion off himself. Although there was no evidence to prove it, Kimmel believed Roosevelt knew Pearl Harbor was going to be bombed. I’m not sure Roosevelt could have known that either, but I think he was just as much or more to blame than Kimmel was. There always seems to be enough blame to go around, but in reality, trusting our enemies will always bring bad results. We need to be watchful and strong in military might to keep this nation safe.

AnnaMy grand niece Audrianna Masterson is a girl with a lot on her mind. She may not talk much, except around those who know her well. Those people, of course, know about the goofy side of Audrianna. She likes to tease and joke with her siblings and her cousins. She likes to be funny in general.

Lately, however, I have begun to notice a change in Audrianna, lovingly known to all of us as Anna. Even though she is only just turning eight today, she is starting to become a more girly girl. She always had that tendency, but with a large dose of tomboy mixed in. Lately though, she seems to be getting more, I don’t know, grown up maybe. In many ways, that reminds me of how my granddaughter, Shai Royce was at that age. They have the ability to tease, but they like to be more quiet and reserved too.Anna & Rob

Audrianna, like me, is a thinker. She contemplates the world around her. Some things she is trying to figure out, and other things she knows, but likes to mill over in her head. In fact, Audrianna reminds me so much of myself that it’s uncanny. Being a thinker makes you quiet sometimes, and I suppose it can be misunderstood, but Audrianna knows what I’m talking about. We can be in a room full of people, but we hardly notice it, because we are in our own little thought world. In some ways, it is a difficult place to be, because people misunderstand us sometimes, but in other ways, the thought world in our minds can be an amazing place. We get to spend time in our imaginations, creating things the way we want them to be. I can see that trait in Audrianna. She sometimes is so deep in thought, that you can easily startle her when you talk to her…if she hears you talking to her at all, that is. A deep thinker, might not notice that anyone else is in the room at all.
Anna & Siara
Audrianna is growing into such an amazing girl. I really look forward to seeing who she will become as she gets older. She is such a thoughtful child. And while she likes to tease, I think there is a kindness in her that far exceeds the normal for her age, or any other. I love it when she comes into a room, and immediately comes up to me and gives me a hug. She just makes everyone around her feel the love she has for them, and when she gives you a hug, you know that you are among those people that Audrianna really cares about. It is a blessing that she alone can give, and the receiver always knows that they have been singled out as a special person to Audrianna. Today is Audrianna’s 8th birthday. Happy birthday Anna!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sheridan Lake TrailSo often when Bob and I are in the Black Hills, we are out hiking the many trails there. Because of that, I have begun to notice that when we are driving around in the Hills, I seem to always be looking for trails, and when I find one, I begin to wonder about it. Where does it go? How difficult is the hike? What would I see on the trail? Are there streams there to cross? Pretty much it’s the normal questions that come to my mind when I think if hiking. I guess it’s just the trails draw. I like thinking about what is just around the next turn on the path. It gives my imagination a chance to work overtime.

The Black Hills has so many trails, that I find myself always in search of a new trail. And finding one is always a possibility. I seriously doubt if we have hiked even half of the many trails that exist there. Nevertheless, we have hiked many of them, and I can tell you that when you are out in the trail hiking…well, there is just nothing like it in the world. You just can’t see many of those sights from the road, but rather from the road all you get is the trail’s draw, telling you to come and have a look. To come and find the peace and quiet that lives there…only on the trail.

As I think about it though, and since I have hiked Harney Peak, my favorite hike, many times, I would have to say that the trail that I find the most intriguing…and the one that will stay that way for some time to come…would have to be the hike up to the Hall of Records, behind the faces of Mount Rushmore. Since it takes The Hall of Recordsobtaining Congressional approval…an act of Congress…to hike that one, I’m sure it will continue to remain a mystery to me, for a long time, if not the rest of my life. Every time I look at the faces of our presidents carved on Mount Rushmore, I find myself looking to the right, to a spot that could easily be missed if I didn’t know what it was. In many ways, I look at that spot longingly, because I know that up that hill are the stairs that lead to the top, to the secret spot behind the faces, where the Hall of Records has been carved into the granite face of the mountain top, hidden from public view, only to be seen by a very select few…and probably never me, because Congress would have no reason to approve my request. Nevertheless, the trail’s draw on me remains.

imageI went over to my mom’s house yesterday, for the first time since the recent snow storm that has simply devastated the area trees. Her front yard weathered the storm very well, in fact, only a couple of small branches fell there at all. Her back yard was a very different matter. The apple tree that I remember my parents planting years ago, had two trunks. It split right between them, taking half down to one side and the other half down to the other side…a total loss. Another tree dropped a huge branch…miraculously missing the entire fence that it laid down right next to. There are branches all over the yard, but it was the tree on the other side of Mom’s yard that hurt the most to look at.

It wasn’t that the tree on the other side had lost more branches than any other tree. It might have or it might not have, but that simply wasn’t my problem. My problem was that imagethe tree on the east side of Mom’s yard was the one we used to climb as kids. Not all of us climbed it, but I spent countless hours up in that tree, as did some of my sisters. My kids and the children of my sisters climbed that old tree too.

For me that tree holds so many memories. We always pretended that it was a tree house, even though it never had a floor or anything like that. I suppose it was a bit like the movie, “Anne Of Green Gables” when she decided to climb up and sleep in a cherry tree. She didn’t do it, but rather had imagined to do it. Anne was a very imaginative child, and in some ways I see myself as being a lot like her. Up there in that old Chinese Elm tree, I spent countless hours just thinking…imagining. I loved it up there, because it was cool there in the shade and you could feel a bit like a bird, up there off of the ground that held most average people down. I felt free…not that I wasn’t imagefree, but this was a different kind of freedom that only a person, who has climbed up to sit in a tree high above the ground, will ever understand.

So many memories lived up in that old tree, and now the branches we sat in are gone. Yes, the memories will always be there, but no new ones can be created on those branches that have fallen, and that makes me very sad. I haven’t thought about climbing that old tree for many years now, and most likely would never attempt it, but just knowing that those old branches were there, was comforting somehow. And now that feeling is lost, and that…is very sad.

Chris senior pictureThere comes a time in the late summer and early fall of each year when all the high school seniors are busy getting their Senior Pictures taken. They are excitedly planning the clothes they will wear and the settings they will choose. There are so many great places around town to have pictures taken. The ideas for poses are as endless as their imaginations. These days the senior picture accentuates the personality of the senior and not just the same old thing. When my generation got senior pictures taken, they were pretty much all the same. They were taken in a studio, and most of them were just a glorified version of the traditional school picture. The main difference was the fact that they could edit out your zits. You might wear special clothing, but the picture did not look that much different than the school pictures. But, that was the past…

This year, I will have two grandchildren who will graduate from high school. Christopher will graduate from Kelly Walsh High School and Shai will graduate from Natrona County High School. They have both had their senior pictures taken, and they are all so good it will be very hard to choose the one I like best for each of them. I have chosen two that I like for this story, but I can’t say for sure that they will be my final favorite. More likely, I will have several favorites, and I’m sure I’ll have to have several different ones for different places at work and home.

Choosing a photographer is just as hard as choosing the setting and clothes, and I think that the photographers they chose were both amazing. Each one has their own style and their work was great. Christopher’s pictures were done by my niece, Liz Masterson, who is the Journalism teacher at Kelly Walsh, and has produced the year book for the last several years, as well as taken all of the pictures for it. Shai’s pictures were taken by Jessica Coleman at Poetic Images Photography. I am Shai's senior pictureextremely happy with both photographers, and I think they both have a great future ahead of them.

I can’t believe that two of my grandchildren are going to graduate this year. It seems like only yesterday that they were born. How can they possibly be in their last year of high school? I know that the years ahead will be great for both of them. I can’t wait to see where their next journeys will take them. I am so proud of both of them. They are both amazing people. Chris and Shai, I hope your senior year is totally amazing!! I love you both so much.

Right before Christmas, we were at Walmart doing some shopping. There was a couple and their little girl there, and the little girl had noticed a doll house. As we walked by them, the little girl was busily trying to talk her parents into buying the doll house for her. They kept telling her that she already had a doll house at home and she never played with it. She insisted that she did, and that she would play with both of them if they would just “please buy it” for her. Of course, her parents knew what the end result of their daughter’s promise would be, and as they kept walking away, the little girl followed along behind them, doing her very best to convince them that she would keep her promise.

That little conversation took me back a number of years to when my girls were little, and we got them a doll house for Christmas. I had never had a doll house, and in my mind, it would be a treasured item for any little girl, and I’m sure they played with it for a while, but it never really became the treasure that I had expected. That isn’t really surprising, in that, a doll house can get boring after a while, because the dolls don’t do anything. Like kids today, dolls that do nothing get pretty boring after a very short time…I mean, there is only so much you can do with the imagination, and then you move on to toys with a little more action to them.

As we walked on, I was smiling to myself, because I could see how that little girl’s parents were thinking that they would just have to point out to their darling daughter, in the very near future, that she still wasn’t playing with the original doll house much, so she definitely wouldn’t have been playing with the new one, had they purchased it for her. And if she gave it some thought, I’m quite sure that she would have to agree with her parents, that while she loved her doll house, in her head, it probably wasn’t her favorite toy. The truth is that she just wanted them to buy her something, and for lack of a better choice, she opted for the first thing she saw.

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