Friday, December 31, 2010

Hogmanay 2011

Spectacular Torchlight Procession

Hogmanay: Biggest and friendliest party on the planet

Published Date: 31 December 2010
By Tim Cornwell

Edinburgh's Hogmanay organisers claimed a late surge in ticket sales for the Street Party celebration tonight after winter storms had stalled visitors' plans for the party in the capital.
As Scotland prepared for its biggest night of the year, celebrations kicked off in Edinburgh to the cool sounds of jazz and early fireworks. A huge crowd of people

snaked through the city in the annual Torchlight Procession to Calton Hill on a cold clear night that showed off Edinburgh's beauty to the full.

A New Year's Day "conversation" with crime writers Ian Rankin and Lin Anderson, discussing Edinburgh's place in life and art, became the latest Hogmanay event to sell out yesterday. All tickets have sold for both the Concert in the Gardens headlined by Biffy Clyro and The Keilidh, the open air ceilidh.

Hogmanay organiser, Unique Events' Pete Irvine, hailed the opening of the "biggest and friendliest party on the planet".

He said: "The Street Party was ahead of sales on last year until that bad weather. Then they stalled, so we were concerned, but in the last few days they are selling faster.

"We live in a late-ticket world now. At the beginning and at the moment, they are selling faster than previously."

However, Mr Irvine declined to give any details of how many of some 80,000 Street Party tickets had now sold. "No promoter will tell people, to start a mass panic or mass rush," he said. Tickets were still available yesterday for both the Street Party and the New Year's Day concert headlined by KT Tunstall.

• Hogmanay: good times on a smaller scale

• Staff jet-lagged on leaving festive time zone

• Hogmanay fashion: Ring out the old looks, ring in the new – or add a twist to a classic

Places for the Loony Dook New Year's plunge have gone faster than before.

"There is no real competition for this. Round the world there are fireworks displays but there is nothing like this. We think the anticipation and the buzz is here and the city is full of people. We say we are the home of Hogmanay, which is a bit couthy, but we are the only New Year's celebration."

Edinburgh's Hogmanay has shrunk from five days to closer to three. Organisers will be watching to see if this year's figures live up to those of last year, when visitors from 55 countries bought tickets, and nearly 90 percent of accomodation in the city filled, generating an estimated £24 million worth of business for Edinburgh and £29m for the Scottish economy.

Backers claim the concentrated celebration will create a better atmosphere. While this year's numbers have yet to be tallied, there was no mistaking the enthusiasm among visitors.

"It's one of the things you have to do before you die," said Matthew Cole, a London journalist visiting the city with his girlfriend, Jackie Brown.

"I've been to Edinburgh before and loved the place, so wanted to come back at Hogmanay.

It's lovely to be here, it's very romantic."

"I've always heard that Edinburgh is a great place for Hogmanay, and I've never done it," Ms Brown said. "There's a whole atmosphere here."

The Scottish Government's Culture Minister, Fiona Hyslop, said: "This is the best place to party on Hogmanay. It's a fantastic opening of a whole series of festivities."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Dunblane Cathedral Handbell Ringers

Baloo Lammy (Child born of Mary) - performed by Dunblane Cathedral Handbell Ringers

17th Century Scottish

. A musical setting can be found in Roy Ringwald's Book Of American Carols (2004), who gives attribution for the first verse to John Wedderburn, 1567. He states that the author of verses 2 and 3 is unknown. The full original title was "An Sang of the birth of Christ," from James, John and Robert Wedderburn's Ane Compendium Buik of Godly and Spirituall Sangis (1567)
. A musical setting can be found in Roy Ringwald's Book Of American Carols (2004), who gives attribution for the first verse to John Wedderburn, 1567. He states that the author of verses 2 and 3 is unknown. The full original title was "An Sang of the birth of Christ," from James, John and Robert Wedderburn's Ane Compendium Buik of Godly and Spirituall Sangis (1567)

A Rare Scottish Carol known as Baloo Lamby

Baloo, Lammy is a Scottish Carol from the 17th century. This song came from a performance of the Nashville Early Music Ensemble at the Christ Church Cathedral in downtown Nashville, TN on Tuesday, November 25, 2008.
















Version 2

This day to you is born a child
of Mary meek, the Virgin mild.
That blessed bairn, so loving and kind
shall now rejoice both heart and mind.
Baloo Lammy.
A star appeared this blessed morn,
and unto us a child is born.
To heaven He'll lead us from near and far,
So follow, follow that wondrous star.
Baloo Lammy.

Collected in the Shetland Islands

*Bairn is Scots for Child
bairn "child". This is one of the most obviously Scandinavian words in Scots,
with a cognate - barn - used in practically all Nordic languages.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Eloise Harriet Stannard

1829 - 1915

The daughter of Alfred Stannard, Eloise was a member of one of the foremost families of artists which characterised the Norwich School. She may have attended her father's art classes, and assisted in his studio. Her earliest work shows the influence of the Dutch Still Life Masters and in particular Van Huysum, but by the mid 1860s she had developed her own style, depicting less formal compositions, painted in natural light. The quality of her painting ensured many patrons, and the Norwich Corporation permitted her to use pieces of their plate in her pictures.

Exhibited : Royal Academy (1856-1893); British Institute (1852-1867)

This is just great!

Christmas Rose, Hellebores

Hellebores, or Helleborus niger, is known as the Christmas Rose since it blooms in December. In some areas, depending on your weather, it’ll start blooming in fall. The leaves are usually evergreen, which also adds to its appeal. Hellebores are very deer and rodent proof.

Hellebores are a stemless herbaceous perennial, native to Europe. It grows up to 18” tall. The flowers are usually white, although some will have a dusty rose color.

How to grow Hellebores Hellebores like moist, shady soil. So be sure to give it lots of water regularly after planting, and into the fall, when the ground may be drier than other times of the year. They like neutral or slightly alkaline soil.

Give them some shelter – plant them near a building in order to protect them from wind and cold.

You can view them best if you are viewing them straight on or from below. So, planting them at the top of a retaining wall, for example, will help you to appreciate their flowers more.

They are hardy from zones 3 to 8 in the U.S.

They can be difficult to divide as the roots snap off very easily, so a lot of care must be taken when dividing.

All parts of Hellebores are poisonous, the roots being especially poisonous. This would account for its deer-proof properties. Certainly, don’t eat any parts of the plant, but also be very careful handling this plant – it can cause skin irritations. Wear gloves!

Borage and Hellebore fill two scenes,
Sovereign plants to purge the veins
Of melancholy and cheer the heart
Of those black fumes which make it smart

From Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy

The Christmas Rose flowers from December to April, it's beautiful white petals and deep green foliage standing out amidst the dull, leafless terrain of winter.

It really isn't a rose at all, but the Black Hellebore, a member of the hellebore family and one of the most poisonous plants in existence. The name "Hellebore" comes from the Greek elein (to injure) and bora (food), which roughly translated means injurious food. It is called Black Hellebore because of its dark colored rootstock.

It has been used medicinally in Greece around 1500 B.C., where it was called Melampode in reference to Melampus the physician who first employed it as a medicinal herb. Melampus used it as a purgative in treating mania. Herbalists used it thoughout the centuries for curing madness, as a tranqulizer, and in a concoction washed onto walls to rid households of flies.

In ancient times, the Black Hellbore was considered to have a powerful ability to drive away evil spirits. People would bless their livestock with the Black Hellebore, to protect them from evil spells. Sorcerers were said to use hellebore to make themselves invisible by casting powered hellebore in the air.

According to Parkinson, 'a piece of the root being drawne through a hole made in the eare of a beast troubled with cough or having taken any poisonous thing cureth it, if it be taken out the next day at the same houre.'

Many historians speculate that the Black Hellebore probably became associated with Christmas because it blooms at Christmas time, and Christ as the rose is a common metaphor found in the Holy Bible. As well, Martin Luther King, the founder of the Protestant Christian movement, adopted it as his coat of arms and insignia.

Finally, here is a beautiful legend, adapted and written into story form in the 1500s by Lizzie Deas told of the Christmas Rose:

When the Magi laid their rich offerings of myrrh, frankincense, and gold, by the bed of the sleeping Christ Child, legend says that a shepherd maiden stood outside the door quietly weeping.

She, too, had sought the Christ Child. She, too, desired to bring him gifts. But she had nothing to offer, for she was very poor indeed. In vain she had searched the countryside over for one little flower to bring Him, but she could find neither bloom nor leaf, for the winter had been cold.

And as she stood there weeping, an angel passing saw her sorrow, and stooping he brushed aside the snow at her feet. And there sprang up on the spot a cluster of beautiful winter roses, -- waxen white with pink tipped petals.

"Nor myrrh, nor frankincense, nor gold," said the angel, "is offering more meet for the Christ Child than these pure Christmas Roses."

Down in Yon Forest

Traditional English

1. Down in yon forest there stands a hall:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

It's covered all over with purple and pall

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

2 In that hall there stands a bed:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

It's covered all over with scarlet so red:

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

3 At the bed-side there lies a stone:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

Which the sweet Virgin Mary knelt upon:

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

4 Under that bed there runs a flood:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

The one half runs water, the other runs blood:

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

5 At the bed's foot there grows a thorn:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

Which ever blows blossom since he was born:

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

6 Over that bed the moon shines bright:

The bells of Paradise I heard them ring:

Denoting our Saviour was born this night:

And I love my Lord Jesus above anything.

Singing this carol here is Joan Baez

Down in Yon Forest" (or "Down in Yon Forrest") is a traditional English Christmas carol dating to the Renaissance period.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Silent NIght by my friend Solitaire Miles

by Solitaire Miles

"Silent Night" (German: Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht) is a popular Christmas carol. The original lyrics of the song Stille Nacht were written in Austria by the priest Father Joseph Mohr and the melody was composed by the Austrian headmaster Franz Xaver Gruber. In 1859, John Freeman Young (second Bishop, Episcopal Diocese of Florida) published the English translation that is most frequently sung today.[1] The version of the melody that is generally sung today differs slightly (particularly in the final strain) from Gruber's original, which was a sprightly, dance-like tune in 6/8, as opposed to the slow, meditative lullaby version generally sung today. Today, the lyrics and melody are in the public domain.

Amazing Video of Frozen Lighthouse on Lake Erie

The Cleveland Harbor West Pierhead Lighthouse turned into an artistic testament to nature after high winds and subzero temperatures continually coated the structure with ice Tuesday afternoon.

After waves from Lake Erie propelled by high winds coated the structure, the lighthouse began to take this beautiful shape, reported the Washington Post.

The natural ice sculpture isn't without its hazards however, as the ice obscures the actual purpose of the lighthouse. The Coast Guard has issued a warning of hazardous conditions to mariners, who won't be able to see the lights or distinguish their colors, reports MSNBC.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue

1. There is no rose of such virtue
As is the rose that bare Jesu;

2. For in this rose contained was
Heaven and earth in little space;
Res miranda.

3. By that rose we may well see
That he is God in persons three,
Pari forma.

4. The angels sungen the shepherds to:
Gloria in excelsis deo:

5. Leave we all this worldly mirth,
And follow we this joyful birth;

6. Alleluia, res miranda,
Pares forma, gaudeamus,

There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue

English Traditional, c. 1420

"This is one of thirteen carols found in a Cambridge MS., T.C.C.o. 3, 58, part of which at least is attributed to John Dunstable of Henry VII's Chapel. It is quite uncertain whether he wrote the words as well as the music."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just 10F here tonight

A favorite old Movie for the Holidays

I never get sick of "It's a wonderful life".

It's a Wonderful Life is a 1946 American drama film produced and directed by Frank Capra and based on the short story "The Greatest Gift" written by Philip Van Doren Stern.

The film stars James Stewart as George Bailey, a man whose imminent suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers). Clarence shows George all the lives he has touched and the contributions he has made to his community.

Despite initially being considered a box office flop due to high production costs and stiff competition at the time of its release, the film has come to be regarded as a classic and a staple of Christmas television around the world. Theatrically, the film's break-even point was actually $6.3 million, approximately twice the production cost, a figure it never came close to achieving in its initial release. An appraisal in 2006 reported: "Although it was not the complete box-office failure that today everyone believes … it was initially a major disappointment and confirmed, at least to the studios, that Capra was no longer capable of turning out the populist features that made his films the must-see, money-making events they once were."

It's a Wonderful Life was nominated for five Oscars without winning any, but the film has since been recognized by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 best American films ever made, and placed number one on their list of the most inspirational American films of all time.

Rat Hunter

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Third Sunday in Advent

O Key of David, Jesus Christ,
the gates of heaven open at your command,
come and show us the way to salvation.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Message of Peace

Apple Tree Morris-Speed the Plow

Come each jolly fellow that seeks to be mellow
Attend unto me and sit easy
For a pint when its quiet
Me lads let us try it
Dull thinking will drive a man crazy

I have lawns, I have bowers
I have fruit, I have flowers
And the lark is my morning alarmer
So be jolly boys now
Here's good luck to the plow
Long life and success to the farmer

Draw near to my table, my lads, when you're able
Let me hear not one word of complaining
For the tinkling of glasses all music surpasses
And I love to see bottles a-draining
For here I am king
I will dance, drink and sing
Let no man appear as a stranger
And show me the ass that refuses a glass
And I'll treat him to hay in a manger

Let the wealthy and great roll in splendor and state,
I envy them not, I declare it.
I eat my own ham, my own chicken and lamb
I shear my own fleece and I wear it.
By plowing and sowing
By reaping and mowing
King nature affords me a plenty
I've a cellar well stored
And a plentiful board
And a garden affords every dainty

I love slowly decorating my place right up to Christmas eve.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Cherry Tree Carol

When Joseph was an old man,
An old man was he,
He courted our Mary,
The Queen of Galilee (2x)

And when he had wedded her
And home had her brought
she proved to be with child
though Joseph knew her not

As they went a walkin
In yonder fair grove
They saw cherries and berries
as red as any blood

Then up spoke young Mary
In words meek and mild
Won't you gather cherries, Joseph
For I am with child.

Then up spoke old Joseph
In words so unkind
Let him gather cherries, Mary
Who got thee with child

Then up spoke Christ Jesus
From within his mother's womb
Bow down thou cherry tree
For my mother to have some

Then the highest branches on the tree
bowed to Mother Mary's knee
And she gathered of the cherries
By one two and three

When Jesus was a young child
Mary dandled on her knee
She asked of her young son
What shall this world be

This world is no other than
the stones in the street
But the sun moon and stars
shall sail under thy feet

Child #54

There are allot of versions of this song. I learned this from Custer LaRue. This is one of the most popular of English religious folk ballads. Its tale derives from the Pseudo-Matthew gospel, and in medieval times was frequently dramatized in folk plays and mystery pageants including, among others, those performed by the Grey Friars in Coventry. Fuller versions of the ballad sometimes contain predictions of Jesus' birth, death, and resurrection.

Today I am so Sad.

I just read vandals have destroyed one of the most celebrated Christian pilgrimage sites in Britain. They chopped down a tree said to have sprouted from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Thorn Tree of Glastonbury, Somerset, is visited by thousands every year to pay homage and leave tokens of worship. Those visiting today were moved to tears on finding the tree cut to a stump. The sacred tree is unique in that it blossoms twice a year - at Christmas and Easter - and sprigs taken from the thorn are sent to The Queen each year for the festive table.

I dreamed of visiting the thorn tree one day but I am too late. There are no words for the sadness I feel, this was an act of hate.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chautauqua County land of Lake Snows

I live in Chautauqua County, in the southwestern corner of New York State.It is located along the New York-Pennsylvania border, is the westernmost of New York's counties. Chautauqua Lake is located in the center of the county, and Lake Erie is its northern border.

Part of the Eastern Continental Divide runs through Chautauqua County. The area that drains into the Conewango Creek (including Chautauqua Lake) eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico; the rest of the county's watershed empties into Lake Erie and out into the North Atlantic Ocean. This divide, known as the Chautauqua Ridge, can be used to mark the border between the Southern Tier and the Niagara Frontier. It is also a significant dividing point in the county's geopolitics, with the "North County" being centered around Dunkirk and the "South County" centered around Jamestown.

The snow we are getting right now is Lake effect snow. When cold air moves across Lake Erie it picks up moisture from the warm lake which has not yet frozen and then dumps it as snow as it flows over the land and up over Chautauqua Ridge often hammer us here in Stedman on the hilltop with lots of snow like its doing this week.

I think we have about three feet now.

I think we have about three feet of snow now and its still coming....

The Snow-Storm

Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
The steed and traveler stopped, the courier's feet
Delayed, all friends shut out, the housemates sit
Around the radiant fireplace, enclosed
In a tumultuous privacy of storm.

Come see the north wind's masonry
Out of an unseen quarry evermore
Furnished with tile, the fierce artificer
Curves his white bastions with projected roof
Round every windward stake, or tree, or door.
Speeding, the myriad-handed, his wild work
So fanciful, so savage, nought cares he
For number or proportion. Mockingly,
On coop or kennel he hangs Parian wreaths;
A swan-like form invests the hidden thorn;
Fills up the farmer's lane from wall to wall,
Maugre the farmer's sighs; and, at the gate,
A tapering turret overtops the work.
And when his hours are numbered, and the world
Is all his own, retiring, as he were not,
Leaves, when the sun appears, astonished Art
To mimic in slow structure, stone by stone,
Built in an age, the mad wind's night-work,
The frolic architecture of the snow.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

We now have about 18 inches of snow.

Monday, December 6, 2010


All bright and clear, the starry vault
With golden lights and crisp, clean air,
Allures the soul to rise, nor halt
Till she shall float exultant there.

Earth folds her form in ermine cloak,
Whose glist'ning sheen reflects the stars;
Clear rings the skaters' rhythmic stroke
From stream held fast in icy bars.

Uprears the sun at morning's birth,
In glory bathes the wood and plain;
Day's busy hum awakes the earth
To view the scene of Winter's reign.

We love the smile of youthful Spring,
There's gladness in the Summer's glow,
And rich in Autumn's harvesting,--
Yet, greater gifts can Winter show,--

Rare gifts, surpassing pearls and gold;
God's Mother-Maid, Immaculate,
And Christ the King--these, Winter old
Brings down to bless man's poor estate.


Fleur de Lis. December 1922

Thoughts on the Second Week in Advent

Advent Antiphons

From Mary's sweet silence
Come, Word mutely spoken!

Pledge of our real life,
Come, Bread yet unbroken!

Seed of the Golden Wheat,
In us be sown.

Fullness of true Light,
Through us be known.

Secret held tenderly,
Guarded with Love,

Cradled in purity,
Child of the Dove,


Sr. M. Charlita, I.H.M.

Robert, Cyrus. Mary Immaculate: God's Mother and Mine. New York: Marist Press,

It has been said that mainstream Christianity is a religion based on the life story of Jesus rather than on His teachings and I think in many ways that is true. Few churches seem to understand the message Jesus had for the world of humility and love. If you want to really be a Christian you have to dump the trappings and get down to the message of love and peace that was being taught by Jesus. When I was in my twenties I saw the rise of the "warehouse" Christians and was so dismayed. The 80s was the beginning of the great age of Narcissism both secular and religious. I fellowship with a small church that is caring and very nurturing. It has deep roots in the community and is very inclusive and laid back. I consider myself very lucky I still have my faith and that it is reinforced by the wonderful people who share my belief that Jesus would have us take risks to help others and strive to be selfless. I love following the Christian calendar through the year. Advent and lent of course are the biggies. I lit the second candle on my advent wreath yesterday and the carols we sang are ones of expectation and waiting. The joy I feel never seems to dim as the years roll by.

-Beth Maxwell Boyle

Saturday, November 27, 2010

First Sunday in Advent

Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It is the beginning of the Western liturgical year and commences on Advent Sunday, called Levavi. The Eastern churches' equivalent of Advent is called the Nativity Fast, but it differs both in length and observances and does not begin the church year, which starts instead on September 1.

The progression of the season may be marked with an Advent calendar, a practice introduced by German Lutherans. At least in the Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Anglican calendars, Advent starts on the fourth Sunday before December 25, the Sunday from November 27 to December 3 inclusive.

Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used in reference to the Second Coming of Christ. Christians believe that the season of Advent serves a reminder both of the original waiting that was done by the Hebrews for the birth of their Messiah as well as the waiting of Christians for Christ's return.

In the 5th Century Advent began on St Martin's Day -11th November and entailed a six week fast leading up to the Christmas celebrations. During the 6th Century, Advent was reduced to four weeks with no fasting.

Our ancestors used wreathes with lit candles during the dark December days as a sign of hope, as they looked forward to the winter solstice and the lengthening of the days, and the return of the life-giving sun.

Advent 2010 begins on the First Sunday in Advent, November 28, 2010.

Aileen Carr -This Is No' My Plaid (trad.)

This is a favorite song of mine sung here by Aileen Carr. The song is often said to be a Jacobite-era song. The lyrics are possibly coded speech about the exiled Charles Edward Stuart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie. After the 1745 Jacobite Uprising, much of the familiar trappings of Scottish culture were outlawed. To openly speak support for the Jacobite cause would have been folly, so this (and probably many other) songs were written to communicate love (that is, the love of a patriot, disguised as a romantic love in the song) for Bonnie Prince Charlie. The plaid is a symbol of the loss of an independent Scotland. After the 1707 Act of Union bound Scotland and England, many Scots were left feeling that their country was no longer their own. (...this is no ma plaid, bonnie though the colours be...)

MA PLAID (trad.)

This is no' my plaid, my plaid, my plaid
This is no' my palid, bonnie though the colour be

The ground o' mine was mixed wi' blue
I got it frae the lad I lo'e
He ne'er has gied me cause tae rue
And oh the plaid is dear to me
For mine was silky soft and warm
It wrapped me round frae arm tae arm
And like himself it bore a charm
And oh the plaid is dear to me

Although the lad the plaid wha wore
Is now upon a distant shore
And cruel seas between us roar
I'll mind the plaid that sheltered me
The lad that gie'd me it like me well
Although his name I duarna tell
He likes me just as weel's himself
And oh the plaid is dear to me

Oh may the plaidie yet be worn
By Caledonians still unborn
Ill fa' the wretch whae'er shall scorn
The plaidie that's sae dear tae me
Frae surly blasts it covers me
He'll me himself protection gie
I'll lo'e him 'till tha day I die
And oh the plaid is dear to me

I hope he'll no' forget me now
Each aften pledged aith and vow
I hope he'll yet return to woo me
In the plaid sea dear tae me
And may the day come soon my lad
When we will tae the kirk and wed
Weel happit in the tartan plaid
The plaidie that's sae dear to me


About Aileen Carr

Aileen is originally from Blairgowrie in Perthshire, and now lives in Auchtermuchty. She's been singing traditional songs since her teens - what else would you be doing coming from these places? During her long career she has sung by herself, with Coelbeg among others, and now with Palaver. Hers is the deep voice in Palaver's sound. Aileen has contributed tracks to a number of compilation albums.

The 1960's were exciting times for the folk revival in Scotland but it was hearing the likes of Belle Stewart at the 1967 Blairgowrie Festival that was a defining moment for Aileen - not to mention the day she was given, at teacher training college, a copy of Norman Buchan and Peter Hall's 1973 'Scottish Folksinger'. On her family moving to Goole in Yorkshire, Aileen became a floor singer at the South Cave folk club and at the Bluebell Club in Hull, where she met many performers such as Alison McMorland and Archie Fisher. In the 1970's she returned to Scotland and became a regular solo singer at St Andrews and other folk clubs, performing at Kinross Festival and throughout Britain and Ireland. During her long career she has sung by herself, with Coelbeg among others, and alongside Maureen Jelks and Chris Miles in the highly popular a capella group, Palaver

Aileen continues to sing solo, and over and above her clear, disciplined performances and her excellent, powerful singing voice, her most important attribute is the way she persistently searches out fresh and interesting material from both sung and printed sources, constantly researching texts, tunes and history. Although an eclectic singer in the true folk tradition, it is the great classical story ballads - especially Scottish - and their rich history that she enjoys most of all.

Our First Real Snowfall

We picked up a couple inches last night and it looks like a Christmas Card.

Over the River and Through the Wood

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandmother's house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.

Over the river, and through the wood -
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, "Ting-a-ling-ding",
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!

Over the river, and through the wood
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.

Over the river, and through the wood -
And straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!

Over the river, and through the wood -
Now Grandmother's cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

This Thanksgiving song originally appeared as a poem written
by Lydia Maria Child in Flowers for Children,
volume 2, in 1844. Lydia Maria Child was a novelist,
journalist, teacher, and wrote extensively about the need to eliminate slavery.

This is the only version I could find other than one where the verses were changed and made into a Christmas song.

Friday, November 26, 2010


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

This was made by my friend Solitaire Miles.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Scanners and Scammers

Wondering here tonight when are Americans going to pick up on issues like Chertoff (former head of Homeland Security) touting the benefits of Rapiscan (Rape & Scam) while being a paid consultant to the company? It would be so easy to put explosives in the power supply to electronics, a camera or in ones body cavities. If a terrorist really wants to bring down a plane they can do it with ease with or without all this ridiculous unconstitutional invasion of peoples bodies and rights. The terrorists have won we are destroying our own society.

Monday, November 22, 2010

An old favorite painting by Norman Rockwell

Norman Percevel Rockwell (February 3, 1894 – November 8, 1978) was a 20th-century American painter and illustrator. His works enjoy a broad popular appeal in the United States, where Rockwell is most famous for the cover illustrations of everyday life scenarios he created for The Saturday Evening Post magazine for more than four decades.[1] Among the best-known of Rockwell's works are the Willie Gillis series, Rosie the Riveter (although his Rosie was reproduced less than others of the day), Saying Grace (1951), and the Four Freedoms series. He is also noted for his work for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA); producing covers for their publication Boys' Life, calendars, and other illustrations.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Essential Liberty

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

-Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Violation of the constitution

Security protest could disrupt Thanksgiving travel

By Doug Pensinger

Body scans take as little as 10 seconds, but people who decline the process must submit to a full pat-down, which takes much longer.

CHICAGO (AP) — As if air travel over the Thanksgiving holiday isn't tough enough, it could be even worse this year: Airports could see even more disruptions because of a loosely organized Internet boycott of full-body scans.

Even if only a small percentage of passengers participate, experts say it could mean longer lines, bigger delays and hotter tempers.

The protest, National Opt-Out Day, is scheduled for Wednesday to coincide with the busiest travel day of the year.

"Just one or two recalcitrant passengers at an airport is all it takes to cause huge delays," said Paul Ruden, a spokesman for the American Society of Travel Agents, which has warned its more than 8,000 members about delays resulting from the body-scanner boycott.

It doesn't take much to mess things up anyway — especially if someone purposely tries to mess it up."

Body scans take as little as 10 seconds, but people who decline the process must submit to a full pat-down, which takes much longer. That could cause a cascade of delays at dozens of major airports, including those in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta.

"I don't think it would take that much on the busiest day of the year to slow things down," said Gerry Berry, a Florida-based airport security expert. "If I was an airport guy, a screener, a traveler — I'd be concerned."

Not all airports have the machines, which resemble large refrigerators. And not all travelers are selected for scans. But Berry estimated that up to 20% of holiday fliers will be asked to use the full-body machines — meaning tens of thousands could be in a position to protest.

The full-body scanners show a traveler's physical contours on a computer in a private room removed from security checkpoints. But critics say they amount to virtual strip searches.

The protest was conceived in early November by Brian Sodergren of Ashburn, Va., who built a one-page website urging people to decline the scans.

Public interest in the protest boomed this week after an Oceanside, Calif., man named John Tyner famously resisted a scan and groin check at the San Diego airport with the words, "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested." A cell-phone video of the incident went viral.

Other groups have since taken up Sodergren's cause.

"I had no idea what was being started and just how upset people were," said Sodergren, a health industry employee. "I'm just a guy who put a website up."

The Transportation Security Administration has a new pat-down procedure that includes a security worker running a hand up the inside of passengers' legs and along the cheek of the buttocks, as well as making direct contact with the groin area.

Pat-downs often take up to four minutes, according to the TSA's website, though that could be longer if someone requests it be done in a room out of public view or if an ill-at-ease traveler asks for a full explanation of the procedure beforehand.

Factoring in those time estimates, it would take a total of around 15 minutes to put 100 people through a body scan — but at least 6 hours to pat down the same number of travelers.

The TSA's Chicago spokesman, Jim Fotenos, would not disclose how many travelers are normally selected for scans. He said only "a relatively small percentage" normally need pat-downs.

Fotenos declined to say if the agency was taking precautionary steps ahead of the protest, saying only that passengers can make their experience better "by coming prepared and arriving early."

On Friday, TSA head John Pistole told CBS's "The Early Show" that the close-quarter body inspections are unavoidable in a time of terrorist threats.

Pistole acknowledged the public distaste for more intense security, particularly hand pat-downs, and called it a "challenge" for federal authorities and airport screeners.

Also Friday, the TSA agreed to allow airline pilots to skip security scanning and pat-downs. According to pilot groups, pilots in uniform on airline business would be allowed to pass security by presenting two photo IDs, one from their company and one from the government, to be checked against a secure flight crew database.

David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, which represents the airline industry, declined to speculate whether the protest would trigger delays.

"It is impossible to assess how many people will take part, but we would be disappointed if many travelers did participate on one of the busiest days of the year," Castelveter said.

He said airlines always urge customers to show up early during peak holiday travel times and were not suggesting any changes specifically because of the protest.

Delta Air Lines planned to have extra staff in place as it normally does during a holiday travel period. Spokeswoman Susan Elliott said the company was not taking any extra precautions in case of widespread protests.

Southwest Airlines Paul Flaningan said only that his company was "aware of what is being talked about, and we are in constant communication with the TSA."

He said Southwest was not bringing in extra workers specifically because of the threatened protest.

Karen Pride, a spokeswoman for Chicago's Department of Aviation, which oversees O'Hare and Midway airports, would say only that the airports planned to bring in extra workers for the holiday, but she declined to address the potential effect of the protest.

Sodergren sounds much less strident than many critics of screening procedures. And he says he's not trying to cause disarray at airports.

"I have no idea what's going to happen," he said "I don't think it will be chaos. And I have no desire to slow the system down."

But some protesters are aiming to do just that.

Another participating organization called "We Won't Fly" features a blurb at the top of its website that says, "Jam TSA checkpoints by opting out until they remove the porno-scanners."

Organizer James Babb of Eagleville, Pa., agreed many travelers would see the pat-down as equally intrusive or more so. But he's still recommending the pat-down because, he says, it would create more disruption and send a stronger message.

"They won't have the manpower to reach into everyone's crotch," he said.

Passengers cannot opt out of both the scan and the pat-down once they have been selected for the enhanced searches, according to TSA rules. If they then try to evade the measures, they could face an $11,000 fine.

Even if someone in a security line becomes frustrated and decides not to fly, TSA rules require they submit to a scan or pat-down. If people were allowed to walk out, the agency says, would-be terrorists would have an easy escape.

At least some entrepreneurs are offering passengers other forms of protest.

One Las Vegas company is selling designer rubber patches to cover body parts that travelers do not want screeners to see. One patch for the crotch area includes text written in fonts associated with Las Vegas billboards that reads, "What Happens Under Here — Stays Here."

And for anyone who wants to express displeasure with pat-downs, Tyner's confrontation has spawned online sales of T-shirts, bumper stickers and even underwear emblazoned with the words, "Don't Touch My Junk!"

Ironically, one person who will not take part directly in Wednesday's protest is its instigator, Brian Sodergren. He said his wife is too uncomfortable with the prospect of either a body scan or a pat-down, so they are driving the several hundred miles to a relative's home.


This invasive scanning and body searching is a direct violation of the constitution and because it doesn't make us any safer. People are being roughed up and irradiated for nothing basically. The US boarders are as porous as a spaghetti colander. If terrorists want to do anything they need only walk across our borders. This is not about safety its about control. A terrorist need only check a bag with a bomb or send it cargo to blow something up. You are far more likely to die in a car crash in you own home town than be killed by a terrorist. This is fear mongering and all radiation is dangerous to your health. The next thing you can expect to find is these scanners in every single courthouse and federal building and then on to every subway. I am very concerned how many people think this is no big deal.

U.S. Constitution:
Fourth Amendment - Search and Seizure
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Susan Boyle -Perfect Day

Friends - a poem by William Butler Yeats

Now must I these three praise
Three women that have wrought
What joy is in my days:
One because no thought,
Nor those unpassing cares,
No, not in these fifteen
Many-times-troubled years,
Could ever come between
Mind and delighted mind;
And one because her hand
Had strength that could unbind
What none can understand,
What none can have and thrive,
Youth's dreamy load, till she
So changed me that I live
Labouring in ecstasy.
And what of her that took
All till my youth was gone
With scarce a pitying look?
How could I praise that one?
When day begins to break
I count my good and bad,
Being wakeful for her sake,
Remembering what she had,
What eagle look still shows,
While up from my heart's root
So great a sweetness flows
I shake from head to foot.

Friday, November 19, 2010

This speaks volumes


by Jo Shapcot

In reality, sheep are brave, enlightened

and sassy. They are walking clouds

and like clouds have forgotten

how to jump. As lambs they knew.

Lambs jump because in their innocence

they still find grass exciting.

Some turf is better for tiptoeing

say lambs. Springy meadows

have curves which invite fits

of bouncing and heel-kicking

to turn flocks of lambs

into demented white spuds boiling in the pot.

Then there is a French style of being a lamb

which involves show and a special touch

at angling the bucking legs. Watch carefully

next time: Lambs love to demonstrate -

you wont have to inveigle.

Eventually, of course, lambs grow trousers

and a blast of wool

which keeps them anchored to the sward.

Then grass is first and foremost

savoury, not palatable.

I prefer the grown sheep: even when damp

she is brave, enlightened and sassy,

her eye a kaleidoscope of hail and farewell,

her tail her most eloquent organ of gesture.

When she speaks, it is to tell me

that she is under a spell, polluted.

Her footwear has been stolen

and the earth rots her feet.

In reality she walks across the sky

upside down in special pumps.

The Oldham Tinkers


"If a man does not make new acquaintances as he
advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone;
one should keep his friendships in constant repair."
~ Samuel Johnson


"Some people come into our lives and quickly go.
Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to
new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom.
Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.
They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints
on our hearts, and we are never ever the same."
~ Flavia Weedn


"The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand,
nor the kindly smile nor the joy of companionship;
it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when
he discovers that someone else believes in him
and is willing to trust him."

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Blessed Quietness by Beggar's Velvet

This is a new video I just put together of Beggar's Velvet singing acapella the traditional Hymn, Blessed Quietness. Beggar's Velvet was an outstanding UK group made up of Cathy & Charley Yarwood and Dave Webber & Anni Fentiman. Beggar's Velvet stopped performing in 1993 after eight successful and happy years but you can still buy their music! The photos were taken by my husband in Scotland in Oct and Nov. of this year. 2010.T he hymn Blessed Quietness was written by Manie Payne Ferguson (1850 -- 1932)

Joys are flowing like a river,

Since the Comforter has come;

He abides with us forever,

Makes the trusting heart His home.


Blessèd quietness, holy quietness,

What assurance in my soul!

On the stormy sea, He speaks peace to me,

How the billows cease to roll!

Bringing life and health and gladness,

All around this heav’nly Guest,

Banished unbelief and sadness,

Changed our weariness to rest.


Like the rain that falls from Heaven,

Like the sunlight from the sky,

So the Holy Ghost is given,

Coming on us from on high.


See, a fruitful field is growing,

Blessèd fruit of righteousness;

And the streams of life are flowing

In the lonely wilderness.


What a wonderful salvation,

Where we always see His face!

What a perfect habitation,

What a quiet resting place!


Monday, November 15, 2010

The Iron Horse by Kentigern

This is a song about a Scottish train called the Iron Horse by Kentigern. The wonderful vocals here are by Sylvia Barnes. Kentigern was a group formed in 1978 out of a regular session at the Victoria Bar, Glasgow. John Gahagan (whistle) had been a member of The Battlefield Band, and with Jimmy McGuire (fiddle, banjo) combined with the four members of Tinkler Maidgie - Sandy Stanage (cittern, guitar, banjo) (who had also been in Molendinar), Ian MacDonald (pipes), Jim Barnes (cittern, guitar, vocals) and Sylvia Barnes (vocals, dulcimer, guitar, bodhran) - to form Kentigern. Dougie Pincock (pipes, whistle) replaced Ian MacDonald. The photos with the music were taken in Scotland of the stream train known as the Jacobite. This ride is often described as one of the great railway journeys of the world. The 84 mile round trip takes you past a list of impressive extremes. Starting near the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, it visits Britain's most westerly mainland railway station, Arisaig; passes close by the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar and the shortest river in Britain, River Morar, finally arriving next to the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis.

November Night

by Adelaide Crapsey
Listen. .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp'd, break from the trees
And fall.

The Death of Autumn

The Death of Autumn

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

When reeds are dead and straw to thatch the marshes,
And feathered pampas-grass rides into the wind
Like agèd warriors westward, tragic, thinned
Of half their tribe; and over the flattened rushes,
Stripped of its secret, open, stark and bleak,
Blackens afar the half-forgotten creek,––
Then leans on me the weight of the year, and crushes
My heart. I know that beauty must ail and die,
And will be born again,––but ah, to see
Beauty stiffened, staring up at the sky!
Oh, Autumn! Autumn!––What is the Spring to me?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scotland marking Remembrance Sunday


Events of remembrance are being held in towns and cities across Scotland

Remembrance Sunday services are set to take place across the country in memory of Scotland's war dead.

A ceremony will be held at the Stone of Remembrance on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, which will include a march by ex-service and civilian organisations.

HMS Ark Royal crew members will lead a parade as part of Glasgow's ceremony in George Square, while a service will be held in Glasgow Cathedral.

Events will also be taking place in towns and cities across Scotland.

First Minister Alex Salmond and Scottish Secretary Michael Moore will be at the ceremony in Edinburgh.

The parade will include service personnel, regimental associations, the St Andrews Ambulance Association, the Humanist Society, Girl Guides, Sea Cadets and the Army Cadet Force.

Royal British Legion Scotland general secretary George Ross said: "We want this to reflect the whole of society.

"Remembrance is not the exclusive preserve of the Armed Forces and we hope the parade will reflect this."

THE COMMANDO MEMORIAL - The Memorial commands wonderful views of Ben Nevis, the Grey Corries and the western end of the Great Glen. It was unveiled in 1952 by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and commemorates the elite soldiers of the Commandos who died during the Second World War. Achnacarry, six miles from Spean Bridge, was the Commandos' Basic Training Centre from 1942. Over 25,000 men were trained here and in the surrounding area including British, American, French, Belgian, Norwegian, Polish, German (Jewish) and Dutch troops. With Ben Nevis only an 18 mile run from Achnacarry, reaching the summit was just one of the challenges for a day's training! Many veteran Commandos make the annual pilgrimage to attend the Service of Remembrance and Wreath Laying held at the Memorial in November. At any time, this moving tribute offers a rewarding visit, and spectacular photos are often available, especially at sunset.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Remodeling going on at the National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland site is undergoing an incredible transformation into a 21st-century museum experience, re-opening in summer 2011. This means that at present, around half of the museum complex is closed, including the Victorian main hall. Jim was able to see a large part of the museum but the ancient jewelry and artifacts were still on display.

Treasured: Oliphant hunting horn from National Museums Scotland on Vimeo.

New Jeana Leslie and Siobhan Miller CD released on Greentrax

Jeana Leslie & Siobhan Miller are two of Scotland's talented young traditional musicians. Working together as a duo, they won the prestigious BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award 2008

Jeana Leslie - fiddle, voice
Jeana hails from Deerness in Orkney. A member of the group Hadhirgann she has many varied influences and has visited the east coast of Canada (PEI & Cape Breton) many times where she has played with the local musicians. Jeana is a also a keen tune writer and has played at Orkney Folk Festival both as a soloist and band member. A student at RSAMD she received the Jimmy Shand Scholarship from the academy for promising musician with first study in fiddle or accordion. Jenna is also a senior teacher for the RSAMD YouthWorks programme, along with teaching for Glasgow Fiddle Workshops, Glasgow Cultural Enterprises and Celtic Connections workshops throughout the year.

Siobhan Miller - voice
Siobhan is 21 and from Penicuik near Edinburgh. She is a favourite at TMSA’s Auchtermuchty Festival since first appearing there at 13 and has won both the children’s and women’s singing competitions. She has appeared as a solo singer at several festivals including Celtic Connections and guested with Jock Tamson’s Bairns at Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall last year. Siobhan is currently in her third year at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow studying a BA in Scottish Music.

The CD Shadows Tall, I believe is to be released officially on the 19th of Nov. on the Greentrax label. Jim met Siobhan Miller in Leadburn. She actually waited on my husband Jim at the Leadburn Inn as she works there. To make this all the more amazing she knows Ed Miller. I hear a strong Kate Rusby influence in her music only with a Scottish twist. Her fellow musician, Jeana Leslie is also excellent and the two of them make for an outstanding sound. They hope to tour in the US soon.

Greentrax Recordings
Specialising in traditional and contemporary Gaelic and Celtic music
from Scotland and beyond.

Eilean Donan Castle on Skye

Photo by James Boyle

As one of the most iconic images of Scotland, Eilean Donan is recognised all around the world. Situated on an island at the point where three great sea lochs meet, and surrounded by some majestic scenery, it is little wonder that the castle is now one of the most visited and important attractions in the Scottish highlands.

Although first inhabited around the 6th century, the first fortified castle was built in the mid 13th century and stood guard over the lands of Kintail. Since then, at least four different versions of the castle have been built and re-built as the feudal history of Scotland unfolded through the centuries.

Partially destroyed in a Jacobite uprising in 1719, Eilean Donan lay in ruins for the best part of 200 years until Lieutenant Colonel John MacRae-Gilstrap bought the island in 1911 and proceeded to restore the castle to its former glory. After 20 years of toil and labour the castle was re-opened in 1932.

Today, you can explore nearly every part of the castle, and enjoy a journey through the history of the area.

The Castle now has its own visitor centre, which includes the Ticket Office, Coffee Shop, Gift Shop and toilets.

The Rams Horn

The Rams Horn on Facebook