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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

R.I.P., Geordie

I'm feeling pretty blue tonight. I finally realized today that Geordie was killed by a coyote last Saturday. I'd found him down the hill sitting on my son Donovan's porch. Why do they think  hunting is better away from their own home? I put him in the car and brought him back up the hill. He ate and went back outside. And we haven't seen him since. He must have headed right back down and through the pasture where coyotes like to hunt varmints, too. A deadly combination

He'd been my birthday present from Jay in 2005 - just five months old that October. Always cocky, always thinking he was invincible, no matter how often I scolded. Even the dog's barking, warning coyotes to stay away from the house, wasn't enough this time. The fourth cat we've lost since moving back home. Well, Geordie, you were a fine cat and I will miss you very much.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When Mother Nature Smiles

It was a busy day today and my body aches for it. The photo above shows what fruit will be going to the Post Falls Food Bank this week. The top two boxes are our apples that Jay picked today. They might be Mackintosh. Hardly a worm hole, he said. The lower box on the left is full of Greengage plums that I gleaned from our neighbor Davy's orchard. There was a mighty wind last night, so mostly I picked them up off the ground. The ones still on the trees still appear unripe. Maybe in a few days.  They are very small  - no bigger than a large grape, but  very sweet plum when ripe. The box to the right are Davy's Italian prunes. He is generous to let me pick for the food bank.

This is just a sampling of the three large boxes of Bartlett pears I picked last week from our old tree before they got very ripe. I gave many to the neighbors. They keep pretty well in the refrigerator.

Then after I'd rested up from picking at Davy's, I picked these wild golden plumes from a clump of trees in a secret place. They are very difficult to get at even with a ladder and a picker because the trees are very tall and, of course, the plums mostly grow near the top. If I shake them down, they inevitably fall in brambles and wild rose bushes.

 And this is a variety of red plum that the deer planted years ago by Anna Spring.

Last year there were no wild pink plums on the large tree down by that spring, but this year it was loaded. I've frozen bags and bags of them. The deer come to stand under that tree just waiting for them to fall and that was where our trail camera photographed the black bear a few weeks back at 11 p.m.

It's already a bountiful season and most of the apples haven't even ripened yet.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Old Highland Cemeteries - Part 2 -Cill Chriosd in Isle of Skye & Clachan Duich in Kintail

Clan Map of Northwestern Scotland & Isle of Skye

I think what fascinates me about old Scottish cemeteries is that many are clan oriented. The clearances displaced thousands of highland crofters  from the 1750s through the 1840s so the lairds could use the land for sheep raising, which is why there are so many Americans, Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders of highland origin. Yet, many remained. In my last blog I showed photos of the Bolskine Burial Ground, which was on the eastern side of Loch Ness. It was full of Frasers and you can see above in lavender to the right Fraser country along the loch.

Cill Chriosd (Christ's Church or "Kilchrist") 
On the Isle of Skye lies Cill Chriosd burial ground dating back to around 700 A.D., but most graves are from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. It was MacKinnon ground. The ruins of the church are post-Reformation, replacing earlier churches.

Scottish cemeteries have such beautiful views

Sheep are allowed in to keep the grass down, but they rub against the stones and many are damaged and turned over. The weather, too, plays a part in wearing down the stones. The day we visited the cemetery, sheep were waiting for the gate to open and went away disappointed when we wouldn't let them in.

It must be open range.
The Clan MacRae burial ground is at Clachan Duich in Kintail - it's in pink on the clan map above, a small area in Wester Ross (that's the mainland) between Orange MacLeod below and blue MacDonnell above. 

Memorial to Clan MacRae men who died in the Great War

View of Clachan Duich Burial Ground from Clan MacRae memorial
It is believed that the ships that destroyed Eileen Donan Castle, the seat of Clan MacRae, in 1719 during that Jacobite uprising, also shelled this church.

Clan MacRae Motto "Fortitudine" - "With Fortitude"
Have I said that the Scots are a vey warm and friendly people. We felt so at home wandering about the highlands.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Old Highland Cemeteries - Part 1: Inverness & Boleskine

Old High Church Cemetery, Inverness, with a view across the Ness River

I have a fascination with old cemeteries. Fortunately, Jay shares it with me or I wouldn't be allowed to linger so long in them. The Old High Church Cemetery in Inverness has many old headstones, but most have been worn away by weather.

One of the oldest that can be deciphered

MacGregors are buried here

And Major Wm Donaldson (died 1881) who knew his duty

John Bain, Book seller Inverness. 
John Bain the book seller of Inverness is buried here, along with his wife, but there is no date on their stone. 

Rabbits inhabit the cemetery, too. Cemeteries are not necessarily magical places. But wandering about, I came upon a fairy circle of toadstools.

Fairy Circle in Inverness cemetery

A second cemetery we visited was south of Inverness along Loch Ness -- the Boleskine Cemetery.

It has a lovely view across the loch. Here are buried Camerons, MacBeans, Afflecks . . . 

And Frasers . . . 

Those of you who are familiar with the Fraser (Lovat) clan, will see its motto, Je Suis Prest, (I Am Ready), on this moss-covered stone surmounted by the stag's head. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Jacobite Scotland - (Part 2) - Culloden

Yellow gorse and memorial cairn erected 1881 by Duncan Forbes, owner of land

I had wanted to visit the Culloden battle site for a number of years, having read much about the Jacobites and their risings in 1709, 1715, and their final act in 1745-6, to put the Stuarts back on the throne of Great Britain. The morning Jay and I went, it had rained during the night and the day was misty, much as it had been on April  16, 1746.

At time of battle, this was grazing land with rock walls.

 If you have visited Gettysburg, or any Civil War battlefield such as Antietam or Bull Run, there is nothing joyous in the visit. You are filled with sadness. Over two thousand men fell here, mostly highlanders, but some lowlanders, too, who had borne arms, led by highland chiefs following Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie - to reinstate his father, the Old Pretender, son of King James II and VI of England and Scotland. If you're interested in the actual battle, you can read about it here.  Visitors, perhaps descendants of clansmen who fought still leave mementos out in the gorse and heather.

After the battle, the locals were ordered by Government forces to dig the mass graves for the highlanders. In 1881 Duncan Forbes, the owner of the land, had memorial stones for the clans set where these mass graves lay.

Clan Fraser

Mixed clans

Clan MacGillivray
Clan Cameron

Well of the Dead

Clan Stewart of Appin
Clans MacGillivray, MacLean, MacLaughlan, Athol Highlanders
Clan MacKintosh
French Jacobites (many of Irish and Scottish descent), who protected the rear of the Highlanders' retreat

The lay of a battlefield will often decide the victory. The marsh, still here as on the morning of the battle, caused the Jacobites on the left to swerve around it to the right, bunching up in the middle,  thus failing to assault the flank of the Government forces.

Note the fellow looking into the window of this small cottage rebuilt after the battle, which was thought to have housed wounded Government soldiers. There is still some doubt where from 50 to 300 British soldiers are thought to have been buried, but archaeologists are working on locating the exact site -- and may actually have by now.

But, for all of the solemnity we felt, there was time for levity in the large new (2007) visitor's center, where Jay was allowed to don a targe and raise a sword  just to see how they felt.

And we had lunch in the cafeteria, which included this bottle of lemonade flavored with rose water - very good. I drank most of it before remembering to photograph it.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Jay's Take on Scotland (Part 4) - Commando Memorial

My Own Private Idaho: "This Country Was Their Training Ground": When a country has fought as many wars as has Great Britain, one would expect war memorials in every town, and that's certainly true of ...

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Jacobite Scotland (Part 1) - Massacre at Glencoe 1692

Monument to the Chief of the MacDonalds of Glencoe and his clan

Looking toward Glen Coe  from the  banks of Loch Leven

I have studied the Jacobite era of Scotland for many years and, lest you think it all occurred in 1745-6, terminating at the Battle of Culloden, it actually began in 1688 with the British Parliament inviting Mary, the Protestant daughter of Catholic King James II of England, who was also James the VII of Scotland (having  recently produced a Catholic male heir), and her husband William of Orange to come from Holland and assume the throne of Great Britain, which included Scotland. The Scots fought the English at Killiecrankie and Dunkeld in 1689 without a victory.  James personally tried once to regain his throne, but his forces were defeated in 1689 at Boyne in Ireland. Still, many highlanders remained loyal to James - thus Jacobites.

Modern Glencoe Village at entrance of Glen Coe
The facts leading to the massacre at Glencoe are fascinating and you may want to read them on Wikipedia.
McIan, chief of Clan MacDonald, was ordered to pledge allegiance to William and Mary. He did his best to meet the requirements.  Troops loyal to the crown were then housed among Clan MacDonald in three settlements (Invercoe, Inverrigan and Achnacon) with the claim that there wasn't enough room at Fort William. Hospitality was given, but two weeks later, orders came and the killing of the clan began. Thirty-eight MacDonalds were killed outright; 40 women and children died of exposure in the February cold and deep snow after their homes were burned down.

How the clans homes might have looked at the time, probably without whitewash

Through the modern village of Glencoe, then turning left on a one lane track, we came to the monument, erected by a direct descendant in 1883. A peaceful site on a small hill surrounded by woods.

"Cruel is the snow that sweeps Glencoe" begins the popular ballad of the massacre.

Not a forgotten place, as the cards and withered flowers attest
On our way out, we stopped at another memorial - to those Glencoe who died in the Great War. Eleven names, including MacDonald, Buchanan, MacMillan, Mathieson. Later, one was added from World War II.

Dileas Gu Bas - "Faithful unto Death"

On our drive back to Inverness, we stopped at the Commando Memorial

This large monument stands to more than 25,000 men who trained as Commandos during World War II, not only British, but U.S. Rangers, Frenchmen, Belgians, Danes, Dutch, Norwegians and Poles. It overlooks the area in which they trained with stunning views of Ben Nevis and Aonach Mor.

Dedicated in 1951 by the Queen Mother, who had an affinity for Scotland.