I hate to deliver news like this but everybody needs to know.

His name was Mike. I called him Michael for short.

If things got tense, I called him Michael Karl Casper. This was only when I really meant to give him the business.

Regrets from the past often catch up with us, don’t they? Do you ever wish you could turn back the clock to do it all again? This time in a kinder, softer way? I know I do.

He was the last of six. He was my baby boy.

One cold winter January morning during the early ’90’s, my dear Michele, heavy with Mike, went into labor. We headed out the door. I brought up the rear just to make sure I could hold on to Michele to keep her safe on the slick and icy steps.

I lost my footing on the ice and started beating cheeks down the steps. Michele and Michael were right in front of me and soon they were enjoying the ten or twelve foot winter wonderland sleigh ride to the bottom, compliments of their sugar daddy. It was a little bumpy for all three of us as we navigated each step down. More for me than them.

This was one of those times when I wished that I could turn back the clock and do it in a kinder, softer way.

From this experience, I would recommend this exercise for any mother with child. It definitely cuts down on the waiting time and hospital charges (unless you break a leg).

If I had to do it over again, I absolutely would make sure Michele had the steps cleaned off before I went down.

So we raised Mike for the last 24 years. How I have hated to see him go but sometimes things just happen.

“When did he die?” You might ask.

I would mumble with tears running down my cheeks,  “Let’s just say he is in heaven and leave it at that.”

These are some of the last moments I have recorded before his transition:

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He’s a goner.

 

I’m going to miss the kid. Judging from the last scene in this video, he’s going to miss me too.

Thanks to my great and grand son-in-law Todd Holbrook (Holbrook Films) for videoing the day of joy and delight that marked the end of me having to make Mike’s monthly car insurance payments.

Welcome Amelia!

Michele and I have held our breath for over a year now. We can finally exhale, grab some fresh air and start waiting for an incoming stork to show up.

Don’t be a loser!

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Christine got nothing, as you can see. Don’t be like her and walk around carrying a bag of regrets for the rest of your life. Don’t miss out on 500 smackers like three of my friends have already experienced. Be my Fb friend to get in the running, become a Recovering Idiot blog follower and share some of my Facebook posts about the blog. That’s all you’ve got to do!

And if you are a follower, you won’t miss out on any of my wacky posts.

We draw a name every Saturday. Review previous blog posts for complete details!

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I will award the bonanza as soon as we draw an eligible winner and I can pry the cash out of Michele’s rigid fist.

It is no secret I’m a fan of ice cream and cash which is the reason for this post.

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A whole new set of rules has evolved because three of my Fb friends have turned out to be losers, at least in the category of my $500 giveaway. I’m changing things around mostly because of my wife.

As many of you have noticed, my svelte figure is one that many weight-watchers eye with envy. This is because my wife refuses to buy me ice cream when she makes her weekly grocery run. She buys yogurt for herself because she claims it has half the calories of ice cream.

I refuse to chow down on yogurt for several reasons. They are:

  • I don’t like the name. Yogurt rhymes with EWWW! and YUCK. I personally am not aware of a worse sounding name than yuckgurt.
  • Bacteria. Yogurt is one moving morass of little crawly bacterias with ten legs just waiting to propagate like skeeters in a Louisiana mud puddle.  ‘Cept they do it in a nice, warm mouth and stomach of some health food nut. I’m not in that category.
  •  Yogurt is made by bacterial fermentation of milk. I stay away from anything fermented. I’ve lost several friends because they couldn’t refrain from fermented products. Because I am so risk averse, I do my best to shun all addicting substances, namely fermented yogurt.
  •  Yogurt is produced with byproducts from cows, water buffalo, goats, mares, camels, yaks and ewes. EWWW! is the root word of ewe.
  • Yogurt is produced using a culture of Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus bacteria. Sometimes, whenever one of the workers stirring up the concoction gets in the mood, they yell “Yo! Gurt.” Then Gurt throws a shovel full of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria into the pot. If for no other reason than Gurt and his shovel, I refuse to partake.

So I stick with tried and true ice cream. And any announced name in this contest who turns out to not be eligible is invited to my house for a helping of ice cream. By making this rule change, my wife is now forced to stock our freezer with ice cream.

In fact, anyone who didn’t get drawn but would like to share a bowl of ice cream, stop on by. I’ll dish you up a serving with a minimal charge of $50 per bowl. This will help defray the cost of that $500 I’ll be giving away sooner or later.

Recovering Idiot followers and sharers are adding up. Soon, I will draw the name of one them. I will be five hundred bucks shorter, they will be five hundred longer and my wife will once again stop buying ice cream.

Until that time, when any losers are drawn, they are invited to stop by my house for a consolation prize of a big bowl of ice cream. I too will indulge just so you don’t feel like a stranger.

This will accomplish two things:

  • Losers will feel like winners
  • My wife will have to start buying ice cream again so we can feed the losers (including little ole me)

 

 

I haven’t a clue. But the winning number is 1904. Finding the winning name that matches up with the winning number takes up a good portion of my Saturday morning. As I scroll through my Fb friends, I see many good friends and one or two not all that good.

I see a few who have died and a few who have really stepped up in the past and bailed me out of one situation or another. I see many great people who I count it as a privilege to have known.

I see a few sprinkled among the masses who I know are eligible to win the cash and I see a lot who aren’t.

I see a guy named Tyler Hawkins who is my biggest Recovering Idiot blog fan. Each week I hope Tyler’s number is picked and so far, we’ve both been disappointed.

I see one or two who are loaded to the gills with cash already and have no need of the paltry $500. I break into a cold sweat worrying about their number getting picked. If I end up giving this prize to a loaded-with-dough or fair-weather friend, it’s going to hurt.

But then again, if they’ve taken the effort to become a blog follower and share a post, I guess I can’t complain.

The name of my 1904 Fb friend is Austin Fox. Austin, if you are eligible, let me know what your email address is as registered on my blog Follower list and if you’ve shared RI blog posts on Fb. I’ll then get a picture of me handing the $500 over to you and post it. If you aren’t, I gotta go through this whole process again next week.

If that’s the case, get yourself eligible as there’s a chance your number might get picked again.

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So far, the ineligible winners have been Al Yenney and Christine Jenks. I’m not going to track down Austin’s status as I’m worn out from counting. I’m just hoping Austin followed the program so he and I and everyone else can experience some Recovering Idiot worrying-about-the-cash closure. Let me know Austin, you lucky sucker you.

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Things were a lot different when I was a teenager. Back then, when the phone rang, we answered it. Post haste pronto. In fact, we ran and fought over who was going to answer first. Back then, we were on a party line. If we didn’t answer it, our neighbors would.

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I wonder if there’s a kid in the USA who has any idea what a party line is (or was)?

Sorry, I can’t help myself…

AnsweRING a phone’s ring  was paramount because we didn’t have answerRING machines or Caller ID. The calls were so much more important and almost sacred to the recipient. They were special, especially if the call was made long distance.

And the ring itself? It was an authentic telephone bell being rung without all the fake bells and whistles of today’s world.

A techno but normal speech-impaired teenager in today’s world won’t answer the phone. They simply refuse. I’ve watched this phenomenon in person. Time after time. I have to fight the urge to walk over, snatch the plastic screen out of their hands and answer it myself.

Or, even better, put them over my knee and do a little i-phone-paddling. That too is a lost art form. Especially in the schools where it’s needed most. I know it kept me and my buddies in line, at least a time or two.

Back to the missed call. There is no doubt in my mind that the caller on the other end of the line would be over the age of 40. In fact, I’d be willing to bet 100 shares of AT&T stock on it. If I lose, give me a call to collect. For the first time in my life, I won’t answer.

There is no doubt (at least in my mind) that it is nigh impossible for anyone born after 1985 to stop texting and start talking.

Why? I think it’s because they have never learned the social art of conversation. Their social art is text, text, text. That’s it. And they’re not even that good at it. You might say they’re all thumbs.

Or maybe they can’t hear. Since texting came into play, there is no need for sound. The hearing genes haven’t been utilized for decades now. Pretty quick, these kids are going to start being born without ears.

All a teenager in today’s world has learned is to understand acronyms, send emoji’s, dabble in internet slang and see how fast he can move his thumbs. From morning until night. No talk, all text.

Even my kids who are in their 20’s and 30’s won’t answer their phones. It drives me nuts! I know I didn’t raise them that way.

And what happens if I want to talk to Michael, my youngest man-child? Forget it. The next time I see him in person after trying to call him ten times, he says “What’d you want, Dad?”

Will? NOpe with a capital NO.

Christianne? She’s a little better.

Once in a while she even answers. But then again, she’s got three kids. Most of the rings I send to her probably get lost in the ambient noise pollution of her castle hallways.

But my older kids will pick up on most occasions. The discerning factor is they were born in the early 80’s. Texting and the alphabet hadn’t been invented yet.

They must know I’m calling long distance when they answer. Maybe they have been gone long enough that they are starting to miss the sound of my voice. They might even be thinking that any day now I might fall off a grain bin and quit calling their Apple. At least that’s what I call it.

When I was fifteen I would have had no clue what ringing an Apple I-Phone meant.  My closest guess would have probably been throwing a Red Delicious at the Liberty Bell. And guess what? Nowadays, like the real ring, the Red Delicious is almost obsolete.

If the younger generation doesn’t wake up and start answering the dang phone, the Liberty Bell and everything else we hold dear may disappear too. Just like the telephone ring.

 

Don’t forget to read my previous blog posts telling you how to become eligible for the big $500 giveaway this Saturday!

Today was a great Sundae.

Yesterday was not such a great Saturdae for Christine Jenks. As one of my Facebook friends, her number was drawn but because she wasn’t a Follower of this blog and neglected sharing it on Fb, she missed out collecting $500.

I saw her at church today and tried to make her feel a little better by presenting her with an imaginary cashier’s check, payable to Christine Jenks and signed by me. She seemed pretty happy about that. She’s a good sport.

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Walking down the hall immediately after presenting Christine with her imaginary cashier’s check, I saw Brent Rowley, a guy I can really empathize with…

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I empathize with him because……he’s about to get married.

 

Also, I can empathize with him in a minor sort of way because he did the same smashing and slicing damage to the exact same two digits I once did on the same left hand.  If he was bald and 70 years older, we’d look like twins.

So last week I was at a cousin’s funeral in Cheney. I was reminiscing about her life along with thinking about her parents who passed years ago. There was so much I knew and loved about their lives and yet so much more I wished I knew. I would love autobiographies of their lives but doubt they were written.

Just then I got a text from Steve Anderson, a friend who serves on our church’s stake high council. He asked me to speak with him at a young singles branch in Pasco today. The age group of these young’uns is about 18-30. He said the subject was on Family History which struck me as very interesting as that was the very subject I had been contemplating the moment he texted. I said “Sure”.

I got loaded for bear during the week. I prepared a massive talk and just to get my point across, I took a very large binder titled Ben Casper Family ’79-84 filled with pictures and information that my wife had compiled. She has several more of these monsters from ensuing years but I didn’t have a trailer behind my pickup so there is no way I could have hauled the entire shipment to the meeting. I scaled down my bookmobile idea and grabbed just a few more books.

I took my autobiography titled Recovering IdiotI took my Mom’s hardback history titled Dreams Really Do Come True. I took my Dad’s hardback A Farmer’s Life. Three more hardback copies by Michele about our family were rounded up and thrown into the basket by our front door that used to hold shoes. I threw the shoes out to make room for the books. This little action didn’t not endear me to Michele for the next hour or so.

A Casper Family History-Nauvoo Temple Story completed the abbreviated sample Family History library. The basket was now overfilled and ready for transport and eventual display.

It was a warm summer morning and I worked up a good sweat before I got the library loaded into our van. There would have been a lot less perspiration if I had done the job in my swimming suit with the sprinklers on.

Instead, I wore a white, long-sleeved shirt and tie with a suit jacket. Oh yeah, on this particular Sunday I decided to wear pants since I had some that matched the jacket.

I have to admit that I do a lot of sweating in church. Church keeps things real and focused on things in life that really matter. I’m far from perfect and I guess that’s what kicks the sweat glands into production as soon as I walk in the steepled building. However, it’s a good sweat since I’m working to stay on the path.

We arrived in Pasco. I gave my talk. It was much shorter than expected. Unbeknownst to Steve and I, the mission president, his wife and several other speakers and music numbers were also on the agenda. I transitioned my talk from 5 pages to 3 paragraphs.

The branch president is a friend of mine from way back named Karl Eppich. Karl is a great guy but a little mixed up.  Perhaps psychopathic schizophrenic is a term that might apply although that’s perhaps a little too mild. The Eppich name hails from Germany but Karl is 100% Jew, through and through.

Years ago my wife played a major and great practical joke on me (it’s in my book) and to make it happen, distributed a bunch of my cash at the outset of the prank to my friends including Karl. They were supposed to give it to me when the joke went down. When it came time to make the joke happen, Karl refused to give my cash back. It took much coaxing and prodding from the other 25 people in the room for Karl to unclench his fist from around my wad of cash.

So this morning, Karl was presiding at the meeting. As I spoke about my wife and family, I started tearing up a little. I looked around the pulpit for some Kleenex’s but saw none. Someone went out to get some.

As I continued speaking, I felt a movement on my side. I was startled but finally noticed that kind President Eppich had slipped his handkerchief past my side on to the pulpit in front of me in case the tears started flowing.

I couldn’t help myself. Because it had slightly interrupted my train of thought, I said “Oh, I thought Karl was trying to get my wallet but I guess he was just giving me a hankie.”

I guess everyone there must know Karl quite well because they all responded with understanding laughter.

We headed home after the meeting. After traveling a few miles, I noticed my wallet was gone. That darn Karl.

As we approached Basin City, Michele said she had to go back to the church to teach a lesson for the third hour of church. I figured I had already done enough church stuff for the day and told her to drop me off at our house. She said that was fine but if I was going home, I would have to fix dinner.

I decided to head back to church. It turned out I was glad I did.

The last half of second hour was happening. I walked into the Sunday school class and guess who was teaching it?

Christine Jenks. The girl who had missed out on the cash the day before. She was talking about how hard it was when they lost their baby a few years ago. She just couldn’t get over the pain and loss. I remember how devastated she and her husband were.

Later on, she talked to Bishop Nielson about her ongoing struggle. He asked her if she had turned it over to Christ. It took her a bit to relate to what he was conveying as he had to repeat the question. The realization began to settle on her soul that this was the only way she was going to be able to deal with it.

I’ve had and ongoing situation in my life is not nearly as serious as the one Christine and Kameron have endured but still has been something that has really bothered me. I realized while listening to Christine that that’s what I had to do.

No other fix available in this world will heal and bring peace like the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He has descended below us all and paid the price for all sins, losses and pain.

But it is only available for those who humble themselves, believe in and learn of Him, and seek to live His Gospel.

I know this is true but once again I had to be reminded by His Spirit (and Christine) to make it happen in my mind, heart and life. Thanks, Christine.

Now I really feel bad that she didn’t win the money.

So we came home for lunch. Michele fixed it. My wallet was still missing. That darn Karl. We ate and then I had to rush out the door to Home Teach a couple of families since it is getting close to the end of the month.

As I jumped into the 120 degree summertime cook-off van and drove up to the hill country where our families live, my nose started bleeding. I don’t know if traveling to the higher altitude (it’s at least 300 feet higher than the bottom lands of Basin City where I reside) or if it was just the hot weather, but I was in a pickle. The heat was not allowing the blood to clot and it was all I could do to keep my white Sunday shirt from turning polka-dotted red.

I picked Mel up (we are home teaching companions probably because we each are missing fingers) and we made our way to Phyliss and Merlin’s home. The nose was still dumping blood. Phyliss got me an ice bag and after a few minutes of the cold compress, the bleed went away and everything was fine. I greatly appreciated the help. As always, we had a nice visit.

We then visited our other family, the Hawkins. I’ve been home teaching them for 4 or 5 years now. Home teachers are supposed to bring goodies and do nice things for their families. Today, Mel and I walked out of their home, each carrying a bag of peaches. Every month, we arrive without gifts and leave with vegetables, fruit, apple cider or whatever is in season at the time.

I love the Home Teaching program. I love the families we visit. Salt of the earth people.

Speaking of salt, I guess I did take a gift to the Hawkins at least one time. I had a Bug-A-Salt gun which after a few pumps, sprays a few grains of salt out the end of the plastic barrel and obliterates the fly. After a previous visit to their home (which is somewhat close to a dairy), on the next visit I gave them the gun. We don’t live close to a dairy. They do.

I haven’t noticed any flies in the Hawkins ointment since the A-Salt weapon placement.

The topping on this Sundae came from Tyler as we left the Hawkins home. He informed me that he had started to reread my book for the second time. That made my day since it is 523 pages. His generation usually can’t stay focused on anything longer than a tweet.

My vote is for Tyler to win the 500 bucks. I get more comments and compliments from him concerning the book and blog than anyone else. It’s just too bad I’m not the one picking the winning names. I should say that many people have been throwing out compliments and I thank you all for that.

Today was a very productive day. It was one I would not have experienced if I was a scoffer and a doubter. Nor would I have experienced it had I been working at the shop, recreating on a lake or enjoying God’s great outdoors. I get to do that 6 days a week. (I’m not talking about the scoffing and doubting.)

Instead, I got to experience God’s great indoors, take the sacrament and give Him the day a week He has always asked us for. Living in this realm allows me great comfort when loved ones pass on or when life gets hard. When I contemplate the love I have for my family or when I really mess up, His undeniable Spirit is there to insure against loss and help me carry on.

I know that building a relationship with the Savior is just like building a business. The more we put into it, the bigger it gets and the more we get out of it.

Tomorrow I’m going to throw the books out and put the shoes back in the basket. Michele will be happy. Then I’m going down to Karl’s and look for my wallet.