Merry Christmas!

Heap on more wood! – the wind is chill;
But let it whistle as it will,
We’ll keep our Christmas merry still.

∼From “Marmion”, by Sir Walter Scott

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May your Christmas bring joy to your hearts and happiness to your homes.  Love,  peace, and God’s blessings to all.

XOXO,

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And this is the testimony:  that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.           

∼1 John 5:11

 

*star photo courtesy of Pexels; popcorn photo courtesy of Pixabay

Autumn Fires, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Autumn Fires

by Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson

 

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!

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What the Kelp?!

Hey gang!  Welcome back.

Today may I present to you… The Kelpies of Falkirk, Scotland.

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Well, as I saw them, at least.  Sadly, that would be as Mr. C and I whizzed past them on the M9 (I think).  I wish I could tell you that we had scheduled time to visit The Helix to walk the trails, take a paddle boat for a little spin on the lagoon, and to capture some artsy fartsy photos of these really cool equine sculptures.  But nope.  Because for some reason, I thought Falkirk was located in the Highlands and not a mere 27 miles from Edinburgh!  Imagine my surprise when all of a sudden I spotted these big guys coming up fast at 70 mph out the car window.  I mean, what the Kelp?!  I barely had time to grab my camera before they were a memory.

C’est la vie.  Perhaps we’ll catch them next time.

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What a Gem

Hi Friends!

One of my favorite discoveries from our Scottish adventures is a unique company called Heathergems.  The only manufacturer of its kind, the Heathergem company produces beautiful jewelry and other gift items from the stems of the heather plant.

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I first saw these interesting creations at the James Pringle Shopping Outlet in Leith, Scotland (a decent place to look for a few souvenirs, if not a tad bit on the kitschy side – I did once find a very good hat!).  I have since seen Heathergems for sale at the Celtic shop near my hometown here in the States.

Aside from the Scottish thistle, perhaps no other flower epitomizes Scotland the way that the heather plant does.  It makes me think of the movie Brigadoon – Gene Kelley capturing the heart of the beautiful Cyd Charisse as he sings sweetly to her of the heather on the hill.  The song follows with a dance number that has the pair gliding over the moor and I think that maybe Cyd Charisse isn’t the only one who is falling in love.  We do too a little.

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Prayer For the Faithful, by Saint Patrick

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May the Power of God preserve us.

May the Wisdom of God instruct us.

May the Hand of God protect us.

May the Way of God direct us.

May the Shield of God defend us.

May the Angels of God guard us.

-Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!

May Christ be before us!

May Christ be in us,

Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord, 

Always be ours,

This day, O Lord, and forevermore.  Amen.

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

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*Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.

Happy Valentine’s Day

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A Red, Red Rose

-by Robert Burns (1759-96)

O my Luve’s like a red, red rose,
That’s newly sprung in June:
O my Luve’s like the melodie
That’s sweetly play’d in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry.

Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun;
And I will luve thee still, my dear,
While the sands o’ life shall run.

And fare-thee-weel, my only Luve!
And fare-thee-weel, a while!
And I will come again, my Luve,
Tho’ ’twere ten thousand mile!

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to each of you today!

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*Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

The Bard of Ayrshire: Robert Burns

Welcome back! I hope everyone is having a terrific week.

Today I would like to pick up where I left off in my previous post about Scottish poet Robert Burns and the annual Burns Night celebration. I promised you I would go a little deeper into the life of the man who penned ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and who some 222 years later, is regarded as the national poet of Scotland. So let’s dig in!

Ol’ Rabbie was a handsome chap, eh?

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The eldest of seven children, Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759 in a small town in Ayrshire, Scotland. His father, William Burnes (the family later dropped the ‘e’), and mother, Agnes Brown, were poor tenant farmers. Because of their impoverished situation, young Robert’s formative years were spent engaged in hard, manual labor on the family farm. This facet of his life would shape his world view and inform his writing throughout the years.

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Burns Night

Greetings Readers,

Today is a big day in Scotland and for those of Scots descent around the world.  For today is January 25, the birthday of Scotland’s beloved national poet, Robert Burns.

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Photo:  Public Domain

Also known as Robbie Burns, Rabbie Burns (my personal favorite), The Ploughman Poet, and the Bard of Ayrshire, Burns is one of Scotland’s most celebrated sons.  You may know him best as the man who first penned the words to ‘Auld Lang Syne‘.  And I’m sure you have heard the poetic verse: “O my Luve’s like a red, red rose that’s newly sprung in June”.  Perhaps you are familiar with Burns’ narrative poem, ‘Tam O’ Shanter’.  Or, maybe you have a fondness for one of Rabbie’s other 713 works (possibly more?), which range in topic from death and war, anguish and greed, from religion and politics, to love and sex (and many other topics in between).  There is certainly no shortage to choose from.  *Although archived and no longer updated, I discovered a BBC page dedicated to Burns that lists 716 poems and songs.  It allows you to search for works by title, season, theme, and year written.  Well worth a look if you are at all interested in Rabbie’s poetry.

Every January 25, Robert Burns is celebrated with the annual Burns Night Supper.  I have never had the good fortune to take part, but oh how I would love to!

So, what does a Burns Supper involve? Fun, I would imagine!

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For Auld Lang Syne

Happy New Year, Friends!

Wow, I simply cannot believe 2018 is almost here.  In less than 48 hours, the first of you will celebrate the strike of midnight and the rest of us will follow as the waves of time roll across the dark, deep sea.

A new year.  A new beginning.  A fresh start.  A blank page beckoning to be written upon.  What will you write on your page this year?

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In my great love affair with Scotland, I learned something that I would like to share with you.  If I were to quiz you on the name of the song sung on New Year’s Eve the world over, you would probably tell me it’s ‘Auld Lang Syne’.  And you would be correct.  But does anyone (aside from our awesome friends-the Brits) know to whom the song is attributed?  I never really gave it much thought, but how strange that so many of us across the globe ring in the new year singing the exact same tune and yet the majority of us likely do not know where it originated or even understand what the words are all about.  It reminds me of the humorous dialogue exchange between Billy Crystal’s and Meg Ryan’s characters at the end of one of my favorite movies, ‘When Harry Met Sally’.


Harry: [about Auld Lang Syne] What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot’? Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?

Sally: Well, maybe it just means that we should remember that we forgot them or something. Anyway, it’s about old friends.

-from ‘When Harry Met Sally’, 1989


Roughly translated “for old times’ sake” or “days gone by”, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ is nothing if not all about preserving old friendships, raising a glass, and looking back with nostalgia over the events of the year.  It is a song steeped in sentimentality that has the power to momentarily bind us together in remembrance, in the celebration of the moment, and in hope for the future.  Joy, kinship and comaraderie…even melancholy and regret…these are just a few of the feelings I think this song has the power to invoke.  Thus is the great power of music.

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I challenge you to replace the words ‘auld lang syne’ with ‘for old times’ sake’ when you read the lyrics (bottom of post).  It will take on a brand new meaning.

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A Christmas Prayer, by Robert Louis Stevenson

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To old friends, new friends, and friends I have yet to meet,

I want to sincerely thank you for welcoming me into your blogging community.  It has been great fun to write for you these last few months and you have been so encouraging with all of your likes and kind comments.  I have enjoyed interacting with you and look forward to getting to know you even better through your posts over this next year.

A few weeks ago I came across this Christmas prayer.  It is widely attributed to one of Scotland’s literary sons, Robert Louis Stevenson, although I am unable to find the source in which it was originally published.  Regardless, it is beautiful and it is my personal prayer for you this blessed season.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas,

Wendy

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A Brief History of the Bagpipe

Happy December, Friends!  Is it really just over three weeks until Christmas?  My goodness, where does the time go?  2018 is just a blink away.

I thought today it might be fun to do a little research on the history of the bagpipe.  Santa was more than happy to model his for you today!

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The bagpipe is quite unlike any other instrument in its ability to stir and penetrate so deeply into the soul.  When well-played, bagpipes can evoke a gamut of emotions:  joy, sadness, excitement, determination, and for me personally, a profound longing.  Even a homesickness of sorts.  It’s complicated.  It’s love.

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