Cowgirls and Horses!

Dear Cecilia, Finnian, Augustine, Kieran, and Mary –

I’ve been with some friends and some horses in California. Here is my friend’s daughter arriving at  the farm yesterday morning. Her name is Mary Ellen. Yes! You can see she was very busy.

Mary Ellen had  brought some of her horses to the Blacksmith, or Farrier. Can you guess why?


Can you see what he is doing?

When the farrier  brought out the next horse, he had a moment of what Gus would call freaking out 


In the afternoon, we heard there was going to be a practice  “Roping.” I had forgotten what this meant, then I remembered. Do you know? 

Yes, it’s  a practice for a real event, called Team Roping. One rider must lasso the horn or head (“Header”). The other rider must lasso the hind feet (“Heeler”). To watch, we sat inside the corral. A loudspeaker played country music, as we  talked and ate and drank while Mary Ellen and the others practiced.  It was a little like being at a swim meet,  or a soccer or baseball game, except we wouldn’t have let  Kieran or Mary  loose to run around!

Sometimes videos don’t work for you, so here are some photos (but I really hope you can get the video to work). You can click each picture:

 Mary has 4 dogs. They all look alike (to me!). I think this is Trigger: 



Mary Ellen’s husband wasn’t there, but his  horse, Possum. was, so I rode him for awhile  this morning —  

On Possum

On Possum

I miss you all very much. YOU WOULD LOVE IT HERE!





Mary Ellen  is a very good cattle roper. Set this YouTube Video at 1:30, then watch to 2:08. See her winning last year’s Team Roping Championship!










Waiting for Elizabeth and Roy

Hi, kids – 

I’ve heard that there’s still no swimming because of the Mississippi floods.  So, what do you do instead, Ceci, Finn, Gus, and Kieran? Mary, are you in a kiddie pool in South Bend? I hope so.

You know I am in Sicily, right? In a couple days, I’ll meet Auntie Elizabeth and Uncle  Roy here.  Over the weekend, I was in Palermo, which is a city with as many people as Minneapolis and St Paul put together. Palermo has many wonderful old buildings and hardly any Mafia (ask mom or dad). On Saturday while I was eating dinner outside near a church, I looked up and saw —


I left Palermo Monday morning, but not before this…


 And this (on the left, below). I know it looks like fruit, but in Palermo this “Martorana,” or Marzipan, is everywhere. It’s made of lots of sugar and ground almonds. I looked, but didn’t bite. 

 The other photo is one I took of some girls racing home – I was walking back from dinner a couple days ago, when I was staying in the village of Cinisi. I think they’re about Ceci’s age, don’t you?

So, now that I’m in Cianciana, I can show you the first  place I’m staying, waiting for Elizabeth and Roy. Here’s a 23-second video of the kitchen and stairs. As I say in the video, everything is very narrow (and steep!), I think because the walls are so thick. Can you guess why the houses are built with this kind of wall?

(Hint: it is very hot here!)


Yes, it’s very warm here during the day. Maybe some houses in Cianciana have air conditioning, but mostly, it’s fans. They work fine.

 In the early evening, I  see this little fountain from the kitchen and from the balcony —

Viewdi Eev's


I’ve been trying for an hour to upload a short video of the BLUE SMURF gelato I saw when I stopped at the cafe-bar this morning. The video isn’t working, so I’ll try it another time. I think it will make you laugh!

I miss you all very much, but know you are doing a lot of fun things this summer.



Kids for a Cause: Your Triathlon!

Dear Mary, maybe next year you will come watch your big cousins in this race. This morning they swam, biked, and ran their hearts out.
Dear Kieran, Augustine, Finnian, and Ceci,
You were amazing this morning —

Look who I met as I walked to the race site!

3 w.bikesJPG


Look who I found, paying close attention during doing their pre-swim stretches – 

Then Mom and Gus had a talk about swim strategy — 

I missed your swim prep, Finn, but found Ceci.  Swimming  is serious business for you older kids.

You thought it was just lots of fun, didn’t you, Kieran?

Kieran: swim prep!


…and here you are  being very serious – 

I ran from the pool just in time to catch you after you transitioned to your bike —

Kieran, transitioning

Finn and Ceci, you  were too fast for me – I missed your  bike event, entirely! But I caught Gus finishing the course. In this picture, you have just dismounted, and you are walking your bike, thinking about your run…
Gus: end of bike race

I saw some of the run,  but you were all too fast, so no photos this year.

Then, as  the rain began, FIVE CRONIN FINISHERS took a quick bow.           Congratulations, All!FIVE CRONIN FINISHERS