My cousin, Delwin Johnson was always a quiet man…at least he was every time I was around him. Nevertheless, he was a sweet man, and it makes me sad that he has left us. I’m sure that he wasn’t quite so quiet around his family. In fact, he loved teasing his nephew, Ethan Stanko when he kept asking his mom, JeanAnn Stanko to explain the game of football to him on Thanksgiving, but then Ethan was just too busy to listen to his mom teach him about the game. It’s a typical kid thing, but funny, nevertheless. As for Del’s brother, Elmer…well, they were very close, and there will always be a hole in Elmer’s life where his little brother once was. That makes me so sad, because I know Elmer missed Del so much.

Delwin, wasn’t a clumsy sort, but he did have a “little mishap” one time while he was out hunting with his sister, Darla Stanko. His niece, JeanAnn Stanko tells me, “He was with mom (his sister, Darla Stanko). They stopped because they saw a deer and he accidentally shot through the floorboards, hitting the transmission cooling lines. As you know transmission fluid is red, so it looked like the car was bleeding.” I can see the shock on their faces now, and then, I can almost hear Delwin saying, “Oops, I shot the car!!” Then, the shock would most likely turn to hysterical laughter…until it came time to figure out how to get home…and how to get the car fixed.

Ashley McCollum calls Delwin, Uncle Del, not because he is her biological uncle, but because her dad and Del were friends before Ashley was born. Ashley grew up around Del, and she said that Del had a profound impact on her life. When Ashley was in 7th grade, she was living with Del in a little house on Durbin Street in Casper, and their favorite thing to do was to take turns playing Zelda on Del’s Super Nintendo. They loved to take their fishing trips. He also helped Ashley and her dad when they needed a new roof on their house. And there was the time Del fed Angel (who I assume was a dog) the last of his pizza. Ashley says you would just have to be to understand, and that she will forever miss her Uncle Del.

Rachel Johnson, Del’s daughter-in-law recalls the trips she and his son, Jason took to see Del, over the 4th of July. Del’s grandson, JJ had such a wonderful time. He and Grandpa Delwin loved playing with the Nerf guns. Every time JJ managed to hit Del in the chest, Del acted the part of a man who had been shot. JJ loved it!! He laughed and laughed. JJ loved his grandpa so much, and after they had visited, he asked to go see Grandpa Delwin for weeks and weeks. Del loved being a grandpa, and the grandkids and step grandkids were his pride and joy. They are the blessing you get from being a parent. Delwin passed away in exactly the way he wanted to…peacefully in his sleep. We will all miss him very much. Rest in peace Del…until we all meet again.

I woke up this morning to about three inches of snow, which has now turned into about twelve to fifteen inches. Spring officially started on March 20th, so my question is…WHY are we looking at so much snow!!! Businesses are closed, schools are on a homeschool day for today and tomorrow, and many of the roads are closed or have “No unnecessary travel” restrictions. I know Spring snowstorms are not that unusual, but I don’t have to like them. Ok, that’s my rant. This isn’t the first Spring snowstorm I’ve ever been through, and most likely won’t be the last. In fact, I remember a few from my childhood, that have been doozies!!

We had a storm in 1973, that totally qualifies as “a doozy” and one I’ll never forget. I had to get up on the roof of my parents’ house and shovel the snow off. The news told everyone that too much snow could cause the roof to collapse. That was the first I had ever heard of such a thing. These days, it’s common knowledge. Of course, schools were closed with that storm too, and people were actually getting around on snowmobiles in town. I remember thinking ho strange that was. Still, there were people who needed to get places, and people with snowmobiles were helping them get there. I didn’t hear of any emergency childbirths with that storm, but I suppose it was possible.

My niece, Chantel Balcerzak was just a teeny, little girl of two, and the snow was taller than she was. Of course, Chantel is only 4’10” now, so not much has changed, and she might want to stay indoors, so she doesn’t get lost. My dad, her grandpa, Al Spencer took her outside for a picture to commemorate the occasion. Like most snow days, the fre day presented us with a perfect opportunity for fun in the snow, and we took full advantage with snowball fights and trudging through the depths of the “white stuff” that covered the city. It’s funny how that snowstorm seemed so fun, and these days such a storm is just annoying.

I suppose things could be worse. I could be one of those people who will lose wages due to businesses closing, or who have to figure out daycare for children who are now home from school, or who will have to figure out a way to get to work , because my job doesn’t close for snow. Since I am retired, I will just get cozy with a fire going, and watch some television…oh wait, the internet is down which means that my television, email, and internet aren’t working. Thankfully there is wi-fi, so at least there is my phone. That’s my day, I hope you all have a wonderful doozy of a snow day!!

I’m sure most of us have seen a covered bridge…at least in pictures. Most people think of them as being nostalgic, and I do too. They remind me of times long gone, but why were bridges covered in the first place? It wasn’t to lend a romantic flair to the bridge, you know. No, the real reason for covered bridges actually traces back to what the bridge is made of. Wooden structures then and now are exposed to harsh weather and subject to wear and tear. Covering the bridge does two important things. The cover protects the wooden deck…the surface that people and vehicles travel on. It also protects the truss system, which is the lattice framework under and around the bridge that supports the deck, helping the structure last longer. The roof and side elements were replaceable as long as the support structure remained strong. If the support structure weakens, the bridge will have to be rebuilt, because rotting wood cannot be made strong again. This is one of the main reasons that covered bridges have slowly given way to steel bridges over time. Steel structures hold up years longer than wood.

A covered bridge is a timber-truss bridge with a roof, decking, and siding, so most covered bridges actually look like a building over water. They are an almost complete enclosure, with the exception of their two ends, and sometimes windows. Uncovered wooden bridges typically have a lifespan of only 20 years because of the effects of rain and sun, but when a bridge is covered, it could last over 100 years. In fact, the oldest covered bridge in the United States is Hyde Hall Covered Bridge, which is on the grounds of Glimmerglass State Park in Cooperstown. It was built by George Clarke in 1825 on what was then the private property of Hyde Hall.

Nevertheless, while covered bridges last a long time, in the United States, only about 1 in 10 survived the 20th century. It wasn’t because they were dilapidated, but it was due to deliberate replacement, neglect, and the high cost of restoration. Covered bridges have a long history, and they can be found throughout Europe and especially North America in places like New England, the Mid-Atlantic and the regions around the Great Lakes…mainly because these areas are very wooded, and so the building material there is plentiful. I think it’s rather sad that the covered bridges have almost become extinct…such a loss to history.

Like most of the Schulenberg men, my brother-in-law Ron Schulenberg is a work-a-holic. When he isn’t working as a diesel mechanic at Wyoming Machinery, he is working on a car at his own house. This year Ron also put a roof on the family home and put up a fence around the yard. Like any work-a-holic, he spends an average of 16 working hours a day, and then comes in to spend time with his favorite people, his wife Rachel and his son Tucker, and the dogs of course. Weekends often find him working with his nephew, Barry or brother, Bob, both of whom are work-a-holics too. The men cut wood or work on cars. The main good news about all this for Rachel is the fact that she knows where to find him. That’s the way I always felt about Bob’s work.

Ron loves grilling, and really knows his way around a barbeque grill. That seems to be another trait of the Schulenberg men…including my father-in-law, Walt Schulenberg, who was just like his sons and grandsons. Of course, these days, Ron has a helper with all his activities. His son Tucker, his sidekick, is right there doing whatever his dad is doing, be it working, playing, or grilling. They are best buddies, and they are perfectly happy to have each other to count on for help on their projects. It’s important to have an assistant for these things, and Tucker would rather be working with his dad, than almost anything else in the world.

While Ron is a work-a-holic, and like getting things done, he does like his relaxation time too. He enjoys traveling. The family took a trip to New York a while back and really enjoyed Niagara Falls. Ron really enjoys his work, but the reality is that we work to make a better life for our family. Work is a means to an end…a better family life. I can’t picture Ron never getting out there and working…at least not until he is really, really old, but I think that if you ask Ron how he feels about the things he does in life, he would simply say, “I’d rather be camping!” Today is Ron’s birthday. Happy 50th birthday Ron!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

cheryl160cheryl158It’s every school aged child’s dream…enough snow to have the school district call a Snow Day. The only bad thing is that they are always few and far between. Nevertheless, I can remember a few of those snow days from my childhood. They made for good rivals for the storm we had overnight, in the amount of snow received. I remember one storm in particular from those days, when we were told that the snow was very heavy, and people needed to shovel it off of their roof to protect the roof from collapse. Well, like most kids on a snow day, we didn’t need a second invitation to go outside and play. It’s funny how that works. The plan was to go out an shovel off the roof, but while that did happen, there was a lot of playing in the snow too. Now mind you that the school district had decided that it was too cold, too snowy, and definitely the snow was too deep to have the kids walk the relatively short distance…five blocks in our school, but we could spend half the day outside playing in the snow. I could see the problem if it had been blizzard conditions, but it wasn’t. Nevertheless, on a snow day,cheryl154 cheryl155playing outside all day was far better than trudging off to school.

Deep snow is always extra fun, because it makes building a fort much easier, and believe me, that snow and this snow today…are deep. the snow is heavy and easily formed into walls or snowballs. Before long the fight was on. I’m sure that our parents loved hearing the screams of laughter as their daughters played happily out in the back yard. You see, sometimes, snow days are for adults too. Today for instance, my car could not begin to drive down the alley from my garage, and we will have to go our and dig snow later to get it out so it can be parked in from of the house…if I am to make it to work tomorrow. When my husband, Bob left for work this morning, his truck was dragging on the deep snow, and my car sits much lower than his truck. The snow day of yesteryear that comes to mind was the one where my dad got to stay home too. In fact, he city was even asking people to offer to transport people on snowmobiles in the event of an emergency.

cheryl162cheryl156That didn’t affect us in any way though, because we didn’t have snowmobiles, nor did we have need of one. We were busy outside trying to move the snow from one spot to another, so that we could move from point “a” to point “b” with a little bit of ease. And the only reason we were doing that was because we wanted to see just how deep the snow really was. We weren’t going anywhere…we had nowhere to go…because it was a snow day, and everyone knows that everything of any importance to a kid is closed on a snow day…especially the school.

When Eric was born, his older brother, JD was very excited about having a little brother, but that didn’t mean that he knew how a little brother needed to be cared for. That wasn’t really unusual for a little boy of 17 months. Nevertheless, we all wondered how Eric managed to survive having an older brother like JD.

The first hint that Eric might be in peril came when JD stuffed an eye drop bottle, with the lid on thankfully, down Eric’s throat when he was less than a year old. Thankfully, their mom, my sister-in-law, Jennifer was very nearby and heard little Eric’s struggle to breathe. She immediately called 911, and they walked her through what to do. While Jennifer is a nurse, you can’t thinks straight when it is your own child.

Having survived that ordeal, life got back to normal for the two brothers…for a while anyway. When Eric was about 3 years old, JD’s curiosity would again get the better of the situation, and JD would lock Eric in the trunk of the family car…thankfully it was parked in the garage at the time and not in the hot sun. Jennifer heard his muffled yells for help and rescued her youngest son from his big brother a second time. Now, I know you think JD hated Eric, but the opposite was the truth. They were inseparable.

And if having his brother out to get him wasn’t enough, Eric decided to give it a go himself, when he fell off of the deck of the family’s bi-level home. He landed on the concrete below, but somehow managed to stay in one piece…with everything in working order. Talk about having nine lives, I think Eric must be part cat.

Through the years many future challenges presented themselves, since the brothers were very much into motocross, and with motocross comes a number of bruises. Still, that did not diminish their love for extreme sports. They have tried many different extreme sports, and usually do quite well at them.

But, probably the craziest thing Eric wanted to try almost happened on the day he had a friend over and he called his mom at work to ask if it would be ok for them to jump off the roof of the house and into a snow drift. Of course, Jennifer told him no, but he continued to try to persuade her to allow it. So, finally she told him that if he insisted on doing that, he had to wait until she was at home…because someone needed to be there to call 911. Needless to say, that was one attempt at Eric’s demise that didn’t happen. We’re glad you made it through it all, Eric!! Happy birthday!!

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