Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Henry V

What an amazing production! A small, outdoor theatre. (Granted, it was cloudy and in the 50s, but, hey, it was Wisconsin at the end of September.) A cast of 13 actors (which meant that Katherine's lady's maid had to be played by a balding man; it was hilarious!) Simple staging but powerful acting. It was terrific.

Can you tell I liked it? thing bothers me...

After the play a talk-back was held. I don't know if it's this way all over the country, but the companies that I have seen do Shakespeare for students will hold these. Actors come out onstage afterward to chat with the audience, answer questions, and, yes, hear one-on-one how wonderful they are. (They are actors, after all!)

The question was asked, "How does the director decide which scenes to cut? Cut Shakespeare? Yeah, they do. They may not have budget for enough actors, or time to stage the entire play, or space, or whatever. Scenes get cut. In this case, it was the speech before the battle of Agincourt, when Henry considers kingship, it's ceremonies and responsibilities. The director was not at the talk-back, but the speculation by the actors was that the scene had been cut, because, (paraphrasing) in our society, we don't have the experience of inherited leadership. Since our leaders do not have leadership handed to, or thrust upon them, as Henry did, they reasoned that it would be difficult or impossible for the audience to understand inherited leadership to be the burden Henry was feeling it to be.

Is it just me, or does that sound elitist? "We," (the cast, the members of the staff, the company) "don't think you," (the uneducated, inexperienced audience) "could grasp the depth or niceties of the emotions Henry is experiencing at that moment. So we'll just take it out of the play and pretend it wasn't there." Now, editing a scene is not the issue; I understand that parts may have to be moved or removed to make the play flow or feel "right" to the director. (Although I do understand wanted to see it unabridged.) What bothers me more is the attitude that an audience is shallow enough to be unable to pick up on the backstory of the scene. Meh--maybe I'm just too fussy or too sensitive. But lately it seems people of my ilk, my acquaintance or my class have been experienced an excess of, "You can't possibly understand..." I'm kinda tired of it, and I was having such a good time yesterday. Why did they have to pull this in and mess with it?

Well, try to mess with it, anyway. I still had a terrific time. We had lunch afterward, including frozen custard (which isn't really something we should tell Weight Watchers, OK?) The drive home was pleasant; I let Ethan drive, so I got in a nice nap. And dinner was in the crock pot when I got home, so there was no hassle there. Yeah, they tried to mess up my day. But they didn't succeed!

Small time, but in that small most greatly lived
This star of England: Fortune made his sword;
By which the world's best garden he achieved,
And of it left his son imperial lord.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Stay in the Fishbowl!

The vacation is now behind us. Our drive across 3 states ended at 5am, Sunday. We staggered in, set the alarm for church, and went to bed. When it rang, we turned it off and slept another 3 hours. It was lovely.

So, pictures. As it turned out, ours are pretty gamey, as pictures go. The room, the lighting, and the camera did not lend themselves to National Geographic quality. But we have enough to remember the event.

We have one from our vantage point; behind 367 soldier medics in a long, narrow room. Who made that decision? (By the way, the class started with 489 students. This is not a slam dunk school.)

Before the ceremony, we were able to walk around and take pictures of our soldiers, who we, for the most part, might not have seen otherwise. This was fun for the mommies and grandmas, who had one more (in my case, 2 more) chance(s) to embarrass their sweet little pumpkins. (Listen for the "Awwww's.")

Who, with his cheesy grin, had more than ample opportunity to embarrass himself...

He walked the aisle to get his diploma...

Took the obligatory photo with Dad...

And we were outta there!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Homeward Bound

We have left Matthew and Keri again, after spending a day or so around Ft. Sill. We're heading through Oklahoma, and are almost to Missouri. We should be home in the wee hours of tomorrow morning.

Ethan is taking a turn behind the wheel. Our family rule is that the driver picks the radio station. I am being reminded of the musical tastes of young men between 18 and 24.

Why do the stations I like fade out after 30 miles or so, and his just keep going and going and...

UPDATE: Jenny has helped clear up for me the mystery of the radio stations. She says that it is because rock stations are powered by sex and drugs. Country stations (my favorites, especially when driving through TX and OK) are only powered by beer in cans and the dust from a pickup truck as it leaves. Makes sense to me!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


The boy has graduated, and our road leads north. We'll be driving for a few days, and don't know what kind of Internet access we'll have. We have lots of pictures and video to share, at least when we get home. Maybe sooner!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

First Day of Fall

We spent the first day of fall on the beaches near Corpus Christi.

In between beaches, Serena had an orthodontist appointment. It was a windy, rainy, stormy day, but we managed to be inside anyway for most of the rain. It did help a bit with my weekly exfoliation, being hammered by tiny grains of sand. But there was no way these girls weren't going to spend some time together by the water on this trip!

Julee and I walked a lot, while the girls played. We saw tugboats and barges; here's a picture for you, John. (Not that my husband reads my blog!)

We also took several trips on the Port Aransas ferry, watching for dolphins. We saw several, including one extroverted cetacean who leaped high out of the water for us. But they were too fast for our cameras.

We rode the ferry one time with this little guy,

who apparently didn't read this sign.

I am not a summer/beach girl. Summer in Illinois is something I live through so I can get to fall. So a windy, grey beach is not really a big deal to me. This morning is lovely. We woke to temps in the 60s, perfect fall weather! I took a long walk with Julee and Baxter, the dog, and loved the feeling of a cool breeze while looking at palm trees and cacti.

Today we leave and head to San Antonio. We'll meet up with John, my sister and her husband, and, tomorrow, we'll see Ethan graduate as a combat medic.

Then the worrying starts. Another boy to deploy. Hooah.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

As I'm sure the suspense was killing you, I'll tell you that the decision for yesterday afternoon was to visit the King Ranch.

The King Ranch is amazingly huge, but still felt like a small farm. I suppose that was the image the tour guide wanted to give, but it worked for us. The ranch was founded in the early part of the 19th century by one of those dirt-poor LEGAL immigrants we don't seem to like anymore. He brought cattle from Mexico, along with other legal immigrants to work the ranch and care for the critters. The people he brought came for jobs, homes and care he promised and provided. Hmmm...How did he do it, with no government program? But I digress...

The ranch has developed it's own breeds of cattle, the Santa Gertrudis and Santa Cruz. Each was developed at the ranch for a specific purpose. The Santa Gertrudis were developed to produce high quality meat, replacing the Longhorns, which had been used for beef prior to this. (The ranch still keeps a herd of Longhorns, for historical preservation purposes.) The Santa Cruz

were developed to produce high quality lean meat, without that nasty, horrible marbling that causes us to have heart attacks and drop dead, thereby not buying meat anymore. King Ranch keeps herds totaling about 30,000 head. That's a lotta beef!

The ranch has also become well-known for it's Quarter horses, with a line developed at the ranch for use there. Here's Package of Sugar, one of two Quarter horse studs at the ranch.

He is quite the attention-seeker, making sure we saw all sides of him as he preened and showed himself off to us. (At one time, they also raised racing Thoroughbreds, but don't do that anymore.) They told us that only 10-15% of the horses are sold each year, and the ranch keeps a herd of about 350 working cow horses. We met one of the cowboys, Lolo,

while on the tour. He told us a number of stories about the ranch. One of the most interesting was about Assault, the 1946 Triple Crown winner. The horse had stepped on a stake in a pasture, permanently deforming his foot. His trainer decided to destroy him. Lolo, who was 9 at the time, asked if he could be allowed to nurse the foot. He was, and the horse recovered...obviously! He always limped on that foot, but he managed to win despite it. Lolo was also the first person to ride Assault, when he (Lolo) was 13.

The ranch is ginormous, this particular section being larger than Long Island. And it was started by a dirt poor, legal Irish immigrant in 1853. Hmmm....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Corpus Christi

Once again settled into the Brynestad household...Mary and I have kicked two sons out of their beds, but, otherwise, we're feeling pretty good about all of this!

The trip here was quite the slog. I was, admittedly, driving under the influence...of lack of sleep. The last 10 miles were pretty scary. I would have stopped for the night if I hadn't been so close. But we had stopped in San Antonio to visit with our combat medic. That involved Mexican food and doing laundry. We left at about 10:30pm for a 2 hour drive. And that's all I want to say about that.

We've caught up on sleep, feasted on the Lord's Supper and also on some of our hostess's good home cookin'. This morning the girls are studying Math, Spelling and Shakespeare. This afternoon our plans might include an historic village, the King Ranch or some undiscovered activity. Mexico was ruled out, as none of us has a passport. And don't get me started on that....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

From The Road, Ch. 2

15 hours. I drove 15 hours yesterday, from Iowa City, Iowa, to Lawton, Oklahoma, home of Ft. Sill, the U. S. Army Field Artillery, and our son, Matthew and his wife, Keri. I should be honest and admit that those hours include rest and food stops, but the net result is the same. We were pooped when we pulled in last night! Today we got to spend time with Matthew and Keri. Lunch out, Wally World...middle America at it's best!
Tomorrow...the slog down to The Body of Christ!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

From the Road

We have arrived in Iowa City, where we're spending the night. Rambo the Wonder Cheweenie has taken his fans for a walk, and they are playing out in the front lawn. We're waiting for 2/5 of the Family to return from a swim meet, and, so, it's computer time!

For fans of our farm, I thought I'd share some pictures of our "Girly Day." We played Horsey Beauty Parlor on Friday.


got a Western look. It lasted until yesterday.


went with the high and tight, or the roached look. Coats were brushed and glossed, fly spray applied, hooves cleaned, tails was quite the day. If birds were nesting, there would have been lots of building materials!

On The Road Again

We'll be hitting the road this morning for Corpus Christi, with several stops along the way. I am not sure when I'll be blogging again. Try to contain your disappointment. See you soon!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pro-Life Corner

"So we live in the Post-Christian age. Does that mean we should quit telling others about Jesus? No, of course not. The exciting note in this age is that many people long for the faith of their parents and grandparents. They want a faith that gives them a Gospel assuring them that, when these few years spent on earth are over, a heavenly home awaits them. Many of them remember Grandma talking about going to her heavenly home. It might be the Post-Christian age, but the fields are still white unto harvest."

Rev. Homer Larson

Friday, September 11, 2009

Patriot's Day, part 2

Remembering also today all military moms, wives, girlfriends, sisters, aunts, etc, etc, etc. Especially thanking Kris and Keri for loving my boys so well.

Patriots' Day

People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence in their behalf.

George Orwell

Today I want to salute those patriots who are also my own sons; Jay, Matthew and Ethan. You guys make me more proud, more amazed, and more thankful every day. I love you all very much.


Remember, before God, Christopher Edward Allingham, a victim of the coordinated terrorist attacks against the United States in New York, Washington, DC, and elsewhere on September 11, 2001.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dragnet Meets The President

Senor Sock sent me this one. It's a hoot...tell me what you think.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Branding Day

It's been really busy at the Boots farm, but I finally have time to finish my Wyoming saga.

A few days before we left, the Rancher family branded this years' calves. In northern Illinois, we don't see much branding of cattle. In fact, I haven't seen any, although I would not call myself well-experienced in this area. So, to say the least, I was a newbie at this, but I wanted to be of some use. Wendi left me in charge of the house this early morning, while cattle were gathered and sorted in preparation for branding. While we had sorted the heifers earlier in the week, and had them vaccinated, this time we were sorting the bull calves. They were to be tagged, vaccinated, and--hang on, guys--castrated.

My job, though, was to see that the kids were up, fed and dressed. Then, in preparation for the lunch that would be fed to the branding crew, the kids and I had some dips, spreads and desserts to prepare. All of this needed to be done by 8am. Sadly, I had been having trouble all week with my iPhone. Not only did I have no cell or text coverage, (although, somehow, I was able to receive texts) but my clock was confused. It keep vacillating between Mountain time and Central time. Several times during the trip, I set the alarm to Mountain time, but was woken up by Central time. This day was no different. I woke up without the alarm, and wondered, "What time is it?" It was 7:30. I was out of bed in a flash, and halfway to the kitchen, where the clock is firmly in Mountain time, before I realized there were voices in there. Sure enough, my clock had skipped time zones on me while I slept, and it was really 6:30 in Glenrock. Longer story shortened, cattle were gathered, food prepared, kids dressed and soon it was time to head for the corral.

Ranchwife spent much of the morning roping calves, and dragging them to the center of the corral for branding. It looked and sounded somewhat like this.

Since I spent most of the morning vaccinating calves, I didn't get any pictures of her roping. I did get one of her holding a calf for it's turn. Smile for the camera, Wendi.

Here's one of the Rancher in action. His job was castrating the calves, and keeping the morning running along as planned. Younger, more sensitive and male readers might not want to enlarge this photo.

Our favorite cowgirls got involved in wrestling calves, too, concentrating on the smaller ones.

Wrestling calves was fun. So was talking to cowboys.

After branding, a scrumptious lunch was served. Cold beverages were consumed. Your Blogger took a nap. And the calves were reunited with their mommas. Later that day, calves, mommas and poppas were driven to a new pasture, with lots of grass, water...and no branding irons! Bovine bliss!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Happy Anniversary to my Beloved

Spending time at the Bar LL and Lutheran Ladies' Academy was wonderful, but I did miss out on something special. While I was gone, the date for our 28th wedding anniversary passed. We have been together on all but three anniversaries. In 1993, I was in Lithuania. Last summer, John was in Seattle. And this summer, I was in Glenrock, WY. It wasn't as special as it could have been, but I did enjoy being there. Wish John could have come along...Alas, vacation time is scarce since he started working for a new company last year. VERY scarce; he went from 7 to 2 weeks.

In a couple of weeks, we'll be traveling again. Mary and I will head to Texas to see Ethan graduate from Combat Medic school. We'll go by way of Ft. Sill, so we can see Matthew and Keri. We'll also visit her very good friends (and mine!) in Corpus Christi. There will be plenty of fun had, and plenty of pictures to share. And John will use his very last vacation day to fly down and see the boy graduate. More on that later!

Thanks so much for reading. I really like having a place to spout off, and it helps to spout off to an audience. I've been honing my photography skills (Honey, I need a new camera!) and writing skills (always room for improvement!) and "spreading the love," as they say.

Who are They anyway? Does anyone know?

Friday, September 4, 2009


So the Rancher and Ranchwife have three adorable cowgirls. They have more energy than should be legal, but they are awfully cute. There's Clara, who, her mom says, "is just like I was!" I feel for Ranchwife's mom. One day Clara came out of the house and told me, "I ate a raw egg." "Why?" I said. She replied, "Because I can."

Faye is a bright redhead; bright in hair color and also bright in brainpower. She's also young enough to be an almost fearless horse woman. (horsegirl?) She handled tall, rangy Tess with confidence. Once, I saw her race off after a cow. Tess jumped a sagebrush; those aren't tiny plants. Faye lost her hat but not her seat! It was quite a sight.

Then there's Josey. She's a blond 5 year-old; 5 going on 35. She knows just what needs to be done, when, and is usually right in there, trying to get it done. She's not almost fearless; she's fearless! Her pony, Anna, is just the right size that when she falls off, she's still half on. Anna tests her, and Josey generally give back as good as she gets.

Here's s picture of Mary with Clara; don't they look like they've been planning something scary?

Clara owns Pathfinder, who is the daughter of Mary's horse, Wakiya. Clara originally planned to name her horse Lightning, and she told Mary that Thunder would be a good name for Lightning's mom. Well, Mary didn't like the name Thunder, so we started searching for the word in another language. We started with Lithuanian, because one line of our family comes from that Baltic country. Griausti didn't roll off the tongue. Then came German. Donner. Then Shoshone; Mary likes Indians. Dowoyagaide. None of these seemed right for a female horse, or they had pronunciation difficulties that Mary didn't want to deal with. Finally she looked at Lakota. Wakiya. It's pronounced Wah-Kee-Yah. She liked it. It rolled off the tongue, it sounded feminine, and it was Indian. So the horse became Wakiya. Lightning was renamed Pathfinder, after the ranch from which she came. She is a sweetheart who looks much like her mama. Here, compare...



See the resemblance?

The girls had a message to send to you all. It's simple, but it's cute.

And, for tonight, I say, "Goodbye!"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Finally...a chance to share with you pictures and memories from the Bar LL Ranch and Lutheran Ladies' Academy.

I mentioned heading up into the hills to bring cattle down. This is necessary for sorting and branding them, which went on later in the week. No, city boys, sorting is not done by color. (Except for those stupid red cattle that the Rancher despises.) They're sorted by age and sex; cows, heifers (females who haven't had calves yet) steers and calves. Then they are processed in different ways, depending on...age and sex.

So, to begin with, heading up into the hills to collect cows (they're all called cows for short) involves getting out of bed, caffeinating oneself, saddling a horse, and mounting up. So, let's start, I won't show you pictures of anyone getting out of bed or getting caffeinated. That would be too scary. How about some pictures of my friend Wendi's backyard?

Yeah. Her backyard.

So we rode back up into the hills; actually, you're looking backwards, over some of the terrain through which we rode. Looking forward looked something like this;

After a while, we stopped to cross a creek. This is where we had the tough spot I mentioned a few days ago. You know, the time we had a horse that wouldn't cross the creek (the palomino in the above picture,) a broken saddle, and an embarrassed young lady. Some of us turned back and headed homeward; the rest continued on to gather cattle.

Later in the day, 4/5 of us who returned home headed back out to help. We rode on until our fearless leader, Ranchwife Wendi, encountered a rattlesnake. She ventured forth, ready to dispatch the reptile.

Alas, the offending beast was not to be found. One less rattle in Wendi's collection. We were late for the gathering, but watched as the Rancher, Mary and a local cowhand brought them in.

That's our delicate little flower, high on the hill, in the blue shirt, on the chestnut horse. We brought the cattle down a little closer to the house. As we finished our day, I got a nice picture of the Rancher and Ranchwife.

And they got one of me.

Yes, Matthew, that's your Iraq boonie. And, yes, Ethan, that's Sebastian. He's not the PITA you told me he was. We got along fine.

More to come.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

Our ranch idylls are ended. We drove back Sunday and Monday...and were stopped by police only twice! One time I made the mistake of checking the map while driving. I know, I should have pulled over. But I was in western Nebraska and hadn't seen another car for about an hour. Until I looked up from the map...and saw one...coming directly at me, because I had meandered into the other lane! I pulled back into mine, and the lights came on behind me. "Are you all right, ma'am?" said the nice Nebraska trooper. "Yes, just stupid," I said. I explained my idiocy, he checked my paperwork, and let me leave, leaving me, as he said, in the capable hands of my 14 year-old daughter. -sigh- The second time was shortly after 1am. I had driven about 12 hours and was about 10 miles from my destination. I fell asleep at a stop sign and swerved as I drove away. On came the lights. The nice Iowa trooper thought I might be driving under the influence, but realized I was very tired when he heard how long I'd been driving. "Didn't you hear my horn?" he asked. When told that I had been listening to LOUD country music and singing along to stay awake, he said, "Well, I can't fault you for listening to good music." He checked my paperwork, and asked if I was OK to continue. Oh, yeah," I said. "The adrenaline is flowing now!" So he sent me on my way with a smile. Twenty minutes later, I was snuggly warm in a bed in a friend's house, and five minutes after that, sound asleep.

I have some pictures to share of our time at the ranch. They'll be here tomorrow, and for a few days afterward. Stay tuned!