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Monday, August 31, 2015

My Talented Cousin - Colleen Raney

 I have a wonderfully talented cousin, once removed (that's a 2nd cousin), one of the youngest of my first cousin Pat Raney and his wife Barbara, who have oodles of wonderful kids. Colleen's talent as a singer in the Irish folk tradition is a wonder to hear. I really didn't know about her (Pat and Barbara live in Seattle and Colleen lives in Portland, until I was peppering Pat on Facebook about our Irish ancestor (who came to the U.S. about 1730 from what is now Northern Ireland) because Jay and I are going to Ireland and Northern Ireland.  He mentioned that Colleen had studied at the National University of Ireland at Galway - and that she was a professional singer. What??? So, I googled her and then I ordered her three available albums from her website.  What a delight she is to listen to.

Here is a sample of her extraordinary voice, the first song on her album, "Here This is Home."

You can hear more of her songs on YouTube. Just look her up by her name, Colleen Raney.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sentimental Journey Back to Laramie, Wyoming

Jay and I drove down to Laramie, Wyoming, last week - the first time we've been back since 2007. I wanted to see my friends Sue (in middle) and Mary (at right). We've corresponded via email since I left to come back to Idaho to care for Mom, but emails are no comparison to seeing people you love  in person.

I love statuary and the University of Wyoming has in recent years planted mythic images of the Old West across it campus.  You may know that the bucking horse Steamboat and his rider is the image on the Wyoming license plate. It is also the official image of the university. While Jay was working at the university,  a huge statue of Steamboat was erected outside the football stadium.

Later a large colorful statue of the Shoshone Chief Washakie was erected in front of the university's Washakie Center. The university is proud to educate members of the Shoshone and Arapaho tribes of the Wind River Reservation .

I was delighted with the newest installation (added spring 2015) near the athletic field titled "Breaking Through," in honor of Title Nine women, depicting a young woman in 1920s western garb on a bronco. It is enormous, intended to match "Steamboat." Her hat alone weighs 500 pounds. The wall is reminiscent of  Wyoming sandstone blocks  used to construct early university buildings (still in use).

There are plenty of nice hotels and restaurants in Laramie and it's a tourist draw in the summer. One of the nicest places to visit is the American Heritage Center and Art Museum, the building designed by architect Antoine Predock.

So, next time you fly into Denver and rent a car, drive two and a half hours north through Cheyenne to Laramie and spend a couple of days. And be sure to eat at the restaurant down on 1st Street (originally Railroad Street) and Ivinson, where you can watch  trains go past on the old Union Pacific rails across the street. The restaurant's second floor and that of other buildings near the tracks were originally  whorehouses attracting railroad workers and cowboys off the range, the university boys being too poor to indulge in that particular sin.