These boots are made for fencing

bent boot

Years ago I read a book called Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise?: An Imponderables Book (Imponderables Books). One of the questions was, “Why do ranchers cover their fence posts with boots?”

I’ve seen this practice many times and have read three general reasons. The first makes the most sense. If someone was lost, the boots would show that someone lived nearby. The lost person could follow the boots to a dwelling. Some cover fence posts with boots to protect posts from weather. Some say it’s just tradition.

I like tradition. Long may it live!

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Who’s the smallest?

Slope County Courthouse

Amidon, N.D., county seat of Slope County, advertises itself as the nation’s smallest county seat. That is a dubious honor at best. Amidon’s population is officially 26. The county is the size of Rhode Island.

However, Mentone, Texas, is smaller still. No official population count exists because Mentone isn’t incorporated, but the sheriff believes population is 16.

So how do we square the claims?

Maybe Amidon is the nation’s smallest incorporated county seat.

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Packs a party punch

With my reception hostesses Avis and Krista

Krista made the cookies and I made the punch for my Artist’s Reception. I wanted red punch for the holiday season (and because red is my favorite color). I got out my mother’s Hall County (Neb.) Extension Cookbook and found this recipe from Mrs. Frederick Pfell. Of course, we amended it to suit ourselves.

Party Punch

Printer-friendly PDF
1 large can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 large can frozen pineapple juice concentrate
juice of 2 lemons
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 quarts water (less if using ice)
1 package cherry Kool-Aid
1/2 t. cherry flavoring
1 T. maraschino cherry juice
drops of red food coloring
maraschino cherries
orange slices

Add all but cherries and stir together. If possible, make frozen punch ring ahead of time. Float some maraschino cherries and orange slices in punch as garnish.

Enjoy! We did.

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Star-spangled outfit

Hubby and me in front of my photographs at Artist's Reception

Since my Artist’s Reception was Independence Day Weekend, I wanted a star-spangled look. I already had the jacket, a gift from Wendy, and I had a serviceable blouse. But that blouse didn’t thrill my soul. When I went to thrift store to buy frames, I found the lovely blouse in the picture for $2. What a deal!

All I had to do was buy navy capris and design a domino necklace and frou-frou flip flops. Simple. Or so I thought.

star-spangled frou-frou flip-flops and domino necklace

The only red flip flops I could find had plastic straps. I attached the embroidered stars and star buttons with fabric glue. The appliques and buttons adhered to each other very well, but the appliques didn’t stick very well to the plastic straps. I probably should have tried super gluing them, but I sewed them on. What a process! Those flip flops had open season on my needles, even though I tried pre-punching holes with a carpet tack. And the metallic gold thread was downright wimpy. It disintegrated repeatedly. The project dragged on for much longer than I’d anticipated it would, but finally I had my star-spangled flip flops.

When I finished the flip flops, I started the domino necklace. When I screwed in the eye bolt, domino cracked. I flipped domino and started over. I used leftovers from the shoes for the domino.

The star-spangled design went together easily, much to my relief, but the sapphire rhinestones on the flip side had their own ideas. They wanted to stick to my fingers more than they wanted to stick to domino. E-6000 tamed the rhinestones, but I was grateful I hadn’t had time for a manicure. Glue was all over my fingers and I had to remove it with acetone, the active ingredient in fingernail polish remover.

Once the embellishments were glued on, I put wood glue into the crack and clamped necklace overnight. Voila! Custom-made accessories!

In spite of the frustrations, I love being an artist!

You may buy pictures from the photo album links at top left of this page. To subscribe to this blog, go here or click on the orange and white RSS logo on this page. To follow me from Facebook, click on “Follow This Blog” in the Networked Blogs box, also on this page. Or like my Facebook page. Or you can follow me on Twitter.

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Sheepish

Bighorn sheep

Sometimes a great photograph comes from simply being in the right place at the right time with the right gear. This is one of those times.

We were approaching Jasper National Park of Canada when we stopped to look at some bighorn lambs along a lake.

Bighorn lambs

We shot several pictures, then turned toward the van. The adult sheep had come down from the hills and were so close to the van that I could have touched them. I’ve never been this close to a bighorn and was thrilled. I hit the shutter button as fast as I could. I was afraid they’d leave before I could get good shots.

hungry bighorn

I needn’t have worried. They were uninterested in us. They seemed to be saying, “This is our dinner. Watch all you want, people!”

Bighorn on the rocks

When we finally left, this sheep turned to look at us as if to say farewell.

No wonder the zoo felt anticlimactic.

You may buy pictures from the photo album links at top left of this page. To subscribe to this blog, go here or click on the orange and white RSS logo on this page. To follow me from Facebook, click on “Follow This Blog” in the Networked Blogs box, also on this page. Or like my Facebook page. Or you can follow me on Twitter.

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Where the wild things are in a cage

On the last day of our trip, we were passing Bear Country USA when Dad suddenly decided that we should go there. Attraction was listed as a gem in AAA Tour Book. Otherwise, I would have tried to talk him out of it. We’d seen so much wildlife in the wild that a zoo seemed anticlimactic.

Bear crossing between cars

This is a very good zoo. People drive and animals roam within the boundaries of their cage or fence. We were ordered not to lower our windows, especially in the bear area, because the animals were able to come right up to us.

Even so, zoo was most definitely anticlimactic.

We had seen a couple black bears but I didn’t get a shot of either. That was disappointing, but shooting bears in a cage is a lot like catching fish in a barrel. I felt as if I were cheating.

If we had visited Bear Country USA at trip beginning, I’m sure I would have thought zoo was great. But at the end, well, it was a disappointment. Seeing wild things where they belong is a thrill. In a cage? Not so much.

You may buy pictures from the photo album links at top left of this page. To subscribe to this blog, go here or click on the orange and white RSS logo on this page. To follow me from Facebook, click on “Follow This Blog” in the Networked Blogs box, also on this page. Or like my Facebook page. Or you can follow me on Twitter.

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Town for sale

Crow Buttes

Do you want to own a piece of Native American history? Crow Buttes is for sale.

According to a sign there, in 1822 Sioux Indians attacked a Crow Indian camp. When the warriors fled to the buttes to gain a better vantage point, Sioux attacked the camp and raped the women. They surrounded the waterless buttes and waited until Crow warriors had all died of thirst.

In poetic justice, many of the Sioux later died of a fever they had contracted from the Crow.

Crow Buttes population 0

Crow Buttes, in Butte County, S.D., the state’s northwestern most county, is site of a convenience store and house. This cap was for sale in store. It cost more than I wanted to pay, so I just took its picture. Crow Buttes is so nowhere that no one lives there, apparently even the c-store’s proprietors.

Town for sale sign

So if you want a job and quiet lifestyle, buy Crow Buttes. After all, how many of us can say that we own an entire town?

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Life lesson at a parade

Dad and I watched Royal Canadian Mounted Police cadets march in Sergeant Major’s Parade in Regina, Sask., last Wednesday. The cadets wearing what we Americans call “Smoky Bear hats” are those about to graduate. Mounties call those hats “Stetsons”, which makes me think of a brand of cowboy hats.

After parade, we talked with a drill instructor. I wish I would have shot footage of that. What he said was very interesting.

Drill instructors are the ones carrying swagger sticks. The one we talked to is the tallest one on video.

I asked him swagger stick’s purpose. He said that one purpose is to make him look intimidating. Another is to bang out cadence when no drummer is available. A third is to show cadets where to stand and straighten out lines.

Then he discussed the purpose of drill and all that yelling we’ve seen DIs do in movies — or in real life if you are in or were in the military.

Drill builds obedience, teamwork and self-confidence. And all that yelling? It teaches cadets to deal with surface distractions while focusing on the main task.

He told a story about a cadet who “popped his jugular” during some field exercises. Fortunately for him, hospital was only blocks away. Emergency surgery left a long, vivid scar on his neck.

He said cadets need to be prepared for “drunks and others” to attack them in areas of perceived weakness. He told that cadet that he must invent a good scar story when people try to irritate/distract him by bringing up that feature. The same goes for any other feature others might pick on.

So he calls attention to those and any other defect, real or perceived, to teach cadets how to handle pressure “in a safe environment.” “Safe” means a place where no one will shoot at them using live ammunition.

I have never understood why DIs treated their charges with such seeming contempt. Now I see that it isn’t contempt. They are teaching skills that may be life-saving in a dangerous occupation.

Who knew I’d learn something valuable at a parade?

You may buy pictures from the photo album links at top left of this page. To subscribe to this blog, go here or click on the orange and white RSS logo on this page. To follow me from Facebook, click on “Follow This Blog” in the Networked Blogs box, also on this page. Or like my Facebook page. Or you can follow me on Twitter.

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Big house on the wide prairie

Saskatchewan Legislative Building

Saskatchewan’s Legislative Building, Regina, is not a building. It’s an edifice. Saskatchewan is one of the smaller population provinces, but it has the largest Canadian provincial capitol building. Building is an example of the Beaux Arts style in vogue at the time it was built, 1908-1912. Tour guide said it was modeled on Versailles, but Legislative Building lacked Hall of Mirrors.

Legislative Building entrance

The building’s entrance is beautiful.

pillars

These green and cream pillars were made of marble from Cyprus and that quarry is now empty of that stone. They are spectacular.

dome and mural

This is the rotunda, where the Latin cross of the building’s design intersects. Mural is called “Before the White Man Came”. Its painter is a correctional officer.

The Legislative Assembly’s chamber makes it clear that this is a constitutional monarchy, not an American-style republic.

rostrum and mace

Queen Elizabeth II’s portrait is above the Speaker’s chair, showing where the highest authority lies. That authority is symbolized by the mace, carried in before sessions begin. Head of mace points toward party in power, showing who’s in charge.

beaver carving in Assembly chamber

Chamber woodwork is beautifully carved. Tour guide said a young man, I believe 17 years old, carved all of them. I was amazed that such a young carver could execute such sublime work.

Queen Elizabeth II's equestrian statue in front of Legislative Building

The people are devoted to their queen. A statue of her riding her favorite horse Burmese, a Canadian mare, stands in Wascana Park across street from Legislative Building. Queen unveiled it in 2005. Her son Edward, Earl of Wessex, broke ground for it in 2003. Plaques show where royal family members have been. A plaque on Legislative Building notes that “Their Majesties” King George VI and Queen Mary were there in 1939. I thought of the legendary “George Washington Slept Here” signs of the early American republic.

Rest of building was surprisingly plain. Most of the halls we saw were undecorated and the light fixtures were simple. This was in sharp contrast to Massachusetts’ statehouse.

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Rank has its privileges

Government House

Government House was the former residence of the Lieutenant (LEF-tenant) Governor, the British monarch’s direct representative. Each province has a Lieutenant Governor. The current Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor no longer resides in Government House, but retains an office there. I was surprised at the lack of security apparatus. Some uniformed officers were present, but I saw no firearms. We didn’t have to go through any metal detectors or run our belongings through a scanner. I was grateful not to remove all my gear. This is a great contrast to US governmental facilities.

Queen Elizabeth II portrait

When tourists enter, their first sight is this life-size portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, whom Canadians recognize as their monarch. She seems about ready to step out of the painting. I almost bowed reflexively until I remembered two things: 1) it’s only a portrait; and 2) Americans don’t bow to royalty.

Oranges in conservatory

Government House has been restored to the period when Lt. Gov. Amédée Forget (FOR-zhay) and his wife Henriette lived in the mansion.

The first two rooms visitors see are the ballroom and conservatory. Conservatory was originally much larger. At the time of its construction, Government House was a kilometer outside Regina (Re-JINA), with its only neighbors the local Mountie regiment. Government House grew much of its own food and traded with the Mounties for meat. When ballroom was added, conservatory was downsized.

salesman chair

Salesman chairs were placed in the ceremonial entrance. Turning salesmen away was considered to be rude. The butler would summon the man of the house to see the salesman. In order to get rid of them, they were asked to sit in these chairs. Back legs were longer than front ones so the chairs tilted uncomfortably. When salesman would try to adjust himself on the seat, the crack would pinch him. If he leaned against the back, a projection would stab him. Now, which is more rude? Telling him no at the door or wasting his time while making him very uncomfortable?

master bedroom bed detail

The master bedroom had very ornate furniture, which came as no surprise since the Victorians loved ornateness. The bed had high head and foot boards because Victorians believed that air on head and feet was dangerous to one’s health.

The children’s and governess’ rooms were definitely less elaborate. They were low down on the totem pole, even though the governess was highest ranking servant. Children were definitely expected to be seen and not heard. If they wanted to see their father, children had to make an appointment.

chess set in first guest bedroom

This chess set was in the bedroom reserved for the highest-ranking guest. Another bedroom was reserved for lesser-ranking guests. Even the wallpaper showed how important — or not– a person was. I thought, “What petty snobbery!”

bleeding heart bush

We had come at day’s end so staff hustled us out rather quicker than I wanted to leave. We stopped briefly in the garden. I hope my bleeding heart bush will look this beautiful someday.

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