Thursday, July 31, 2008

Homeward Bound

Another great breakfast and then off to the Literary Seminars. There were lively discussions about Othello and Fiddler. At 11:00a.m. we went to the Props Seminar where we were told great stories and incidents about making and remaking and remaking props! We learned little tricks that the props department does to stay within their budget for each making a potbellied stove out of plastic flower pots! Who knew!

After an obligatory stop at WalMart, we ate lunch and then drove to Las Vegas. We dropped Jo and Duane off at the airport for their flight back to Dallas and then we checked into Sunset Station. We ate Mexican food for supper and will be making it an early evening. Tomorrow we catch a plane and head home. It's been another wonderful time with Jo and Duane as well as seeing 6 great plays.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Last Plays

Another good breakfast was enjoyed this morning before we went to the Literary Seminars. At 11:00a.m. we had the Actor's Seminar where 2 of the actors joined us to talk about their careers and answer questions from the audience. These 2 were in this afternoons performance of Fiddle on the Roof.

For lunch we had apples, peanut butter, pretzels and a Snickers. After the 1:00p.m. orientation, we saw Fiddler on the Roof. This play is one of the most popular musicals of the last 50 years. It is a story of Jewish life and persecution in Russia in the early 1900's. It is the story of a Jewish community and highlights a family with 5 girls. Three of them are marrying age and the father, Tevye, wants them to marry according to tradition. The tradition is that they will be matched with Jewish boys that are acceptable to their father. Unfortunately for the father, love gets in the way and the girls end up picking a husband they love. The father would not have approved of any of them, but in the end gives his blessing on all three of the marriages. Near the end of the play the Jews are forced to leave their community and find homes outside Russia. They accept this persecution as part of their lives and move on to new lives in new locations.

For supper, we went to Cafe Orleans where Mike and I had a hamburger and Jo and Duane shared a seafood appetizer. It was OK, not great. In fact, we stopped at Mickey D's on the way back to the hotel for ice cream sundaes and milk shakes!

Othello, the night performance is one of Shakespeare's best known tragedies. It takes place mainly on the Island of Cyprus. As the play opens, Iago, an ensign in the Venetian Navy is passed over for promotion. Iago has dedicated himself to the destruction on the officer that failed to promote him. Othello a celebrated general is that officer. Othello is a celebrated Venetian general and is sent to Cyprus to protect the Island from an invasion from the Turks. He takes his new wife, the daughter of a senator in Venice. Once on Cyprus, the Turks are defeated and Iago begins his campaign of the destruction of Othello. He does this by convincing Othello that his wife is unfaithful. He becomes obsessively jealous and kills her. Iago is soon found out as the villain and is sentenced to death by torture. Othello, in his last action kills himself and the play ends.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Love on Stage

This morning we ate breakfast at the hotel...actually it is in an adjoining house. There are 3 ladies there who make scrambled eggs, cook bacon and biscuits, and make sure the rest of the buffet is replenished.
We are in Cedar City, Utah, which is in SW Utah about 3 hours NE of Las Vegas. This is a college town of about 27,000 people. The college is a Mormon school that has grown so much(to about 8000) in the time we have been coming here since 1991. It is a teacher's school, but also has a large drama department... many of the Greenshow and ensemble people come out of there.
The city is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, very near Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. It's hard to believe that it's a mile high when you see mountains looming around you. The weather here is wonderful...while we're here, the temps are from 60 to high eighties...gorgeous blue breezes occasionally...magnificent flowers and hanging baskets.

At 9:00 a.m. we went to the Literary Seminar in a grove of trees behind the outdoor theater. Here we listened to and participate in the discussions about the play that we saw last evening. Then an 10:00a.m. we talk about the afternoon performances. At 11:00a.m. there was a Costume Seminar, but today we decided to walk to the campus bookstore. At noon, we went to the Festival Guild's Lunch with the Actors. They served a delicious fajitas buffet with garden salad and cheesecake. This is the first time they have had one of these on a Tuesday...they normally are on Fridays. The 3 actors that they had were ones we had seen either yesterday afternoon or evening. Going to the luncheon put us out too late to go to the afternoon's orientation, but we thought that was OK since we knew the story of The Taming of the Shrew.
Today's afternoon performance was Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. It is a delightful comedy dealing with love and headstrong women. Baptista is a successful businessman that has two daughters. The younger one, Bianca, is sweet and gentle and is desired by all the men that know her. The older one is so ill tempered that she is known as Kate the Shrew. Their father has decreed that the Bianca cannot be married until Kate is married. The plot of the play is all about who can woo, marry, and tame Kate.

The twist in this production is that it is set in occupied Italy immediately after the end of WW2. The man tough enough to take on Kate is an American Officer that is part of the Occupiers. Her Dad agrees to the marriage and it takes place. Just to get the marriage off on the right foot, the husband to be arrives late for the wedding and does not dress appropriately. After the wedding ceremony, he takes her to a military camp to help her learn discipline. Along the way Bianca elopes with the young man she loves, and a second suitor, realizing he cannot win Bianca, marries a wealthy widow. Eventually the three couples return to the Father's house and Kate demonstrates much more love and subjecting herself to her husband than the other two recent brides do. It is a real fun 2 1/2 hours. Setting the play in 1946 really worked.

After we left the play, we went to Smith's grocery store and got cherries, strawberries, watermelon and a huge turkey and cheese sub. It was more that the 4 of us could eat, but we had a good time trying. We took our food and went back to the hotel and set on the balcony for our picnic.

The evening's orientation we led by Fred Adams, the founder of the festival. He always has such interesting stories to tell.

Tonight we saw Cyrano de Bergerac in the outdoor theater. This is a fictionalized account of the life of a real person who lived in the 1600's. The play dates back to1897. Cyrano is a poet, heroic soldier, dueler, and a person with a great heart. He has one physical characteristic that haunts him his entire life. He has a big nose. Because of this trait, he lives his life with a feeling of inadequacy. Cyrano has been in love with Roxane all his life (She was his cousin), but she thinks she loves a good looking soldier that is under his command. The soldier, named Christian, is too shy to develop a relationship with Roxane. He asks Cyrano to help him, which he does. One time, Christian is talking romantically with Roxane below her balcony. Cyrano whispers what Christian is to say to Roxane. While the two warriors were off to war, Cyrano wrote daily letters to Roxane in Christian's name. We learn that Roxane loves the author of the letters, which means she unwittingly really loves Cyrano not Christian. After Christian dies in battle, the rest of the play is about what happens to Roxane and Cyrano and their relationship. This play was one of the most powerful plays we have seen in the years we've been here. The plot is much more complex and convoluted than I have described. For instance, along the way, Cryano fights a duel, attacks a gang of 100 thugs by himself, and fights a war. To quote the director of this production:" I consider it a great honor to work on what I believe is one of the most astonishing texts ever written."

Wives and Gentlemen

This morning we stopped in Mesquite so we could eat at the breakfast buffet at Casa Blanco...great spread. We then drove on up to Cedar City, Utah and arrived just in time for the 1:00p.m. orientation. We were told about the play, The School for Wives, that was written my Moliere in 1662. It is a comedy about a gentlemen who was overly concerned about the possibility of infidelity by a wife. To avoid this possibility, he goes unmarried until an orphan he has had raised in a convent is of age for him to marry. Unfortunately for him, on the day before their wedding, she falls in love with a young man her age. She knows nothing about love, and her benefactor tries to convince that love is not about feelings, but about being practical. If he can convince her of this she will marry him instead of the young man. He can't and true love wins out.

Supper tonight was at Milt's Steak House where Mike and I shared a steak and a baked potato and had our own salad. Another delicious meal. They have many hummingbird feeders and the little birds were coming to the feeders in multiples. Both of these following pictures are what we could see from our table while we ate supper.
After supper, it was time for the orientation for the evening performance, an early comedy of Shakespeare: The Two Gentlemen of Verona. In this play, two young men are very good friends. Once they finish the equivalent of our high school, one is sent off to the emperor's court for further training, while the other stays behind in their village of Verona because he is in love with his sweetheart. The one that went to the emperor's court falls in love with the emperor's daughter, who is promised to someone else. The emperor's daughter also falls in love with him The friend left behind is ordered to go to the emperor's court by his father. With great anguish he promises to love his sweetheart even when they are apart and heads off to the court. Once there, he also falls in love with the emperor's daughter, forsaking his sweetheart. He also betrays his friend and has him banished from the empire so there is no competition for the emperor's daughter. The emperor's daughter leaves the empire to be with the her banished love. All the characters in the play follow her and end up together in a forest. Thru twists and turns in the plot, the second friend realizes that his hometown sweetheart is the woman for him, the friend banished from the empire forgives the friend for betraying him and gets the emperor's daughter as his. The emperor realizes he has made a mistake by banishing the love of his daughter so everything is settled as the play ends.

About 35 minutes before the play was to be over, the thunder and lightning began and soon after, the rains came. The actors left the stage, tarps were brought out and the play was suspended. We waited 45 minutes and the play resumed, only to have the rains return after only a couple of minutes! This time, the play was moved into an indoor theater where our tickets showed rain out seats in there. We saw the last portion of the play and finally got back to the hotel about 11:45p.m. A really late night by the time this blog got finished!

Sunday, July 27, 2008


We had a good night's sleep but woke up a little early...that's OK. We met at 8:00a.m. and drove to Green Valley Baptist Church for their 8:30 a.m. service. This is their gospel service and today there was a special guest who led us in several gospel songs. After observing the Lord's Supper, the pastor gave a brief sermon on Lying Prophets from Jeremiah 23.

We saw several familiar faces...Moses and Alice, the Hinsons, the Gissings, Yaconos, Woody Woodall, and a couple of other faces that didn't have names!

We then went to The Greens for breakfast...hope the pictures look as good as it tasted!

We then drove to Hope Baptist Church where we saw Jordan Goff and a couple of people from GVBC. The regular pastor was gone, but Pastor Mike (who is from Johnson City, TN) gave a great sermon on observing the Sabbath.

After a short nap, we headed to the Strip. We went to the Planet Hollywood Resort and the shopping complex that is there. There seemed to have been a plethora of shoe stores with outlandish shoes, sunglasses stores, and jewelry. To say the least, we walked through the area fairly quickly.

Then we drove to Ethel M to see that the Living Machine that Mike had designed, created and built, was all dried up...such a disappointment. We walked through the cactus garden and then went to the Hard Rock casino where we ate supper at Lucky's. We had the "gambler's special" which was a wonderful, fresh salad, a sirloin steak topped with 3 grilled shrimp. Not only was it delicious, but it only cost $7.77...what a deal.

Our next stop was another of our annual stops...Leatherby's Ice Cream Shoppe. We each had a banana split.
As you can see, we all enjoyed them! The Oriental lady who works there remembered us from our past visits and even knew what we wanted to eat. We were taking the "after" picture and she insisted that she take a picture of all of us! As we were leaving, she said that she would see us next year!We have enjoyed our "Las Vegas Experience" and are ready to go to Utah tomorrow to begin the Utah Shakespearean Festival.

Early Morning

We got up at 4:00a.m. and 4:30 a.m. to get ready for our flight out of Chattanooga to Houston. Jackson was ready to get home and see his family and his dogs.
After we landed in IAH, we got doughnuts and went to Jackson's gate for his flight to Corpus.

After he was taken to his plans, Mike and I went to another concourse for our flight to Las Vegas. We had a smooth flight in and got a rental car so we could get our In 'N Out burger! We then met up with our friends Jo and Duane with whom we will spend the next 6 days.

We took a short nap to revive us and then we went to Budd and Carolyn's for supper. There are good friends that we have kept up with since we moved from Las Vegas in 1996. It was a wonderful visit and delicious food.

We came back to the hotel and got ready for bed. It has been a long day!

There was rain here before we landed and we learned that it was the remnants from Dolly.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Last Day

Today was Jackson's last day in Tennessee so we took the opportunity to hang around the house. After Rheagan and Jackson got up and had chocolate chip waffles and cereal for breakfast, they decided to play in the sprinkler. Boy, was that fun!
Then Big Mike took them for a ride in their mothers' car! They just don't seem to understand that it's MY car.
They played in the driveway drawing with the chalk, tennis balls and rackets, frisbees, etc.
After lunch, while Tripp was taking his nap (he never went to sleep!), Karen helped them make rain sticks.
The sticks must have worked because after Tripp got up, everyone enjoyed playing in the sprinkles.
The rest of the afternoon was spent outside since it had cooled off some and was cloudy. Hopscotch, double dutch, race tracks, batons and shows, and various riding toys kept them busy.
It was been so much fun having Jackson with us for this past week, but all good things must come to an end and ours will end at 4:30 a.m. when we have to get up in the morning to catch the plane in Chattanooga!

Dolly Dilemma

Several of you have called and emailed about the status of our daughter and her family in South Texas. Thank you so much for your concerns.

Now that things have settled down, they are able to access the situation. Jon said that they had constant 40mph winds and rain for about 12 hours. The damage to their cotton crop will be a loss of 10-15% of their crop. When the sun comes out tomorrow, it will help to bleach out the bolls and maybe they can begin picking the latter part of next week.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Afternoon Activities and Beyond

We went to Chattanooga this afternoon and our first stop was the carousel where everyone chose their favorite ride.Then it was off to the Tennessee Aquarium where we enjoyed touching the rays and sharks and seeing a friend who was the volunteer while we were there.

We stopped by the butterfly exhibit and then went to the penguins...which is always a fun place to stop and listen to their antics.

The new shark tank made us very glad that we didn't have to be in this contraption with real sharks under water!

Assorted photos from the aquarium...

Our final stop for the evening was the Chattanooga Lookouts baseball game. They were playing (and eventially lost to) the West Tennessee Diamond Jacks.
It was like watching grass boring, but Rheagan did retrieve a foul ball and got it signed by the mascots.

It was back home and to bed for the young ones.

Morning Musings

This morning we had biscuits at Hardee's before going geocaching. We were successful in 2 out of our 3 tries.

Along the way, Tripp had an equipment malfunction.

We made a stop at the church library where all three got books, CSs, and prizes.

We stopped at Deer Park before we had lunch and then home for a rest before the afternoon and evening plans. More on that tonight.

Love those baby swings!

These are SFC (Straight from the camera) shots with no cropping or altering in any manner.