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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

I knew two, found a third, but more?

A piper in full regalia wearing
the Dress Fraser tartan
Scotland, England and Wales. Are there more countries with tartans? Yes, Ireland... and others, but more about them soon.

I grew up knowing I could wear the tartans of two Scottish clans: my mother was born a MacKenzie, and Grandma Davies a Fraser, so I knew I could wear the tartans of those two clans.
Ancient Red Fraser tartan, my favourite
I thought I understood why Grandpa Davies considered himself Scottish, because he grew up just outside Glasgow, and once a Glaswegian, always a Glaswegian and I didn't think to ask anyone about other tartans in Britain.

My MacKenzie grandfather was born, just as I was, in New Westminster, British Columbia, but his parents and at least one or two of his many older brothers moved to Canada from Scotland.
Dress MacKenzie tartan
Weathered MacKenzie tartan

Clan MacKenzie motto 'Luceo Non Uro'
"I shine, not burn"
Then, more recently, I found out there are also Welsh tartans, and realized that Grandpa Davies had had a choice... he could, if he wished, wear a Scottish tartan, but he had inherited the right to wear a Welsh one. This, in turn, might now give me a chance to wear this lovely blue Welsh tartan, to go with my blue eyes!

Davies...a Welsh tartan...who knew? And it's blue!

Davies tartan scarf

I think I would be remiss if I did not tell you about one of Scottish history's most famous MacKenzies: Roderick, who, while fighting for the Jacobite cause, gave his life to save a prince.

The Jacobite uprisings, also known as the Jacobite rebellions, or the War of the British Succession, were a series of wars in Great Britain and Ireland occurring between 1688 and 1746.


The uprisings were intended to restore the last Catholic British monarch, and later his descendants of the House of Stuart, to the throne of Great Britain.

England's King James II was deposed in 1688. For almost a hundred years, the Catholic Jacobites fought to reinstate him to the English and Scottish thrones.


When Roderick MacKenzie, son of an Edinburgh watchmaker, joined the Jacobite army, it was discovered that he bore an uncanny resemblance to Bonnie Prince Charlie. Roderick was, therefore, asked to ride, not quite with, but near the Prince.
This ruse managed to save the Prince for a time, but it cost young Roderick his life. The English forces, misled by the resemblance, captured and injured Roderick. As he died, he said, "You have just murdered a Prince." The English troops beheaded him, then took his head to London to 'prove' they had murdered Bonnie Prince Charlie. However, unbeknownst to the English, and thanks to Roderick MacKenzie, the Prince was able to escape and eventually took refuge 'over the sea to Skye' as the old song says.

Now, friends, it is winter here in the northern hemisphere and so, on a cold and blustery night, you might want to sit yourself down to read about Roderick and his brave sacrifice here at this link:
http://www.thesonsofscotland.co.uk/roderickmackenzie.htm

The ancient pile of rocks pictured below is a cairn
commemorating the bravery of young Roderick MacKenzie.   

Many thanks to my dear Scottish friend Yamini MacLean who took me to see the cairn, and to see as much of Scotland as we could pack into that all-too-short visit to my ancestral land.


The story on Roderick's cairn:
  

Sharing with Fiona's memorable meme:


Irresistible fiery skies

An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

I had a blog post all prepared for this week's Our World Tuesday, but Lady Fi's beautiful sky photos in today's e-mail reminded me that we have some lovely night skies of our own right here.

I photographed the panorama shown above while standing on the edge of the deck, wearing my bedroom slippers instead of shoes, as I waited for the dog to come in.

And then, the sky was so beautiful I just had to ignore my lack of footwear and move to the cement pad by the garage. I don't recommend wearing lightweight bedroom slippers on concrete in December, but the sky was well worth the temporary pain.



Our little town in southeastern Alberta is known as The Greenhouse Capital of the Prairie, and many of my backyard pictures, as in the photo below, show the row of greenhouses one street over, with an empty field in between. It really can't be helped sometimes. I'm shooting with a cell phone in low light, so I can't run out across the snow-patched lawn in order to eliminate unwanted structures. Just shooting blind, really. (Pun included for hunters, if any are out reading this.)


Kay Davies photos

And this last shot, below, was taken by my husband when he and the dog were out in the yard. It was getting late, and already very dark, so the photo lost some of its clarity when enlarged, but is irresistible nevertheless.
Richard Schear photo



Monday, December 4, 2017

It doesn't always end like this, but...

We love our energetic little terrier-mix. Her name is Bonnie-Belinda and she is, as my mother used to say, more fun than a barrel of monkeys.

We start here with a nice quiet little photo opportunity. Bonnie had been very good, staying with our friends Larry and Gayle while Dick took me to an appointment.

We had a very short visit with them when we went back for her. We didn't even stay long enough to take off our coats,  but we did have time for our irrrepressible dog to star in...

The Bonnie-Belinda Show!


Gonna take my picture, Daddy?


Oh, yes, I'll smile for the camera.

















Let me look...
let me look!


See? I did good, didn't I, huh? Didn't I? Didn't I, Daddy?


But photo ops with Bonnie can end up like this!

Sharing Bonnie-Belinda's antics
with Fiona's marvellous meme:
Our World Tuesday

Monday, November 27, 2017

Am I at the beginning of the end?

Father Time, via Pinterest
Old age (I looked it up) refers to ages nearing or surpassing the life expectancy of human beings, and is thus the end of the human life cycle.   (Wikipedia)

Seriously, Wikipedia..."the end of the human life cycle"?
Really?
Who wants to know that? 

FYI, dear readers, the organic process of aging is called 'senescence' — while the medical study of the aging process is called 'gerontology.' You'd think they could get those two to meet, match, coincide or at least be spelled similarly. Senescology? No, but I digress. Old people digress a lot, have you noticed?

So, yes, I researched, to some degree, the subject of age:

Terms and euphemisms for those approaching the end include old peopleseniorssenior citizensolder adultsthe elderly, and (in many cultures, including the cultures of aboriginal peoples) elders. 


However, in my experience, impending old age (my own euphemism) is called horror.

Very young
"Old people often have limited regenerative abilities and are more susceptible to disease, syndromes, and sickness than younger adults."

How horrible is that? I don't want to be susceptible to a syndrome, having already had more than my share of diseases and sicknesses, even as a younger, but not much younger adult.

No longer very young

I just realized I led myself into discussing this subject  while in the process of preparing a former post
which was about about elephants.

You know elephants: they never forget, unlike yours truly here who forgets everything, and I think they live for squillions of years if they aren't shot or, worse still, left to die after a hunter has removed their tusks.


Oh, wait! Re elephants—not squillions of years of age at all. I looked it up: 60 to 70 years, it seems, somewhat less than what I expected my life expectancy to be.

But that means I have lived longer than an elephant, even if Jumbo lives to a ripe-old-elephant-age.

Sharing with Lady Fi's wonderful meme "Our World Tuesday"

   Young and old




Monday, November 20, 2017

Trump son's hunting, or not?


This just in: I wrote this blog post, about hunting elephants for their tusks, on the weekend and now, Monday, it appears pressure from social media might be having an effect.

Amazing — Trump just tweeted that he's putting his plan on hold and the BBC says it came after massive action on social media! Our pressure is working, but we haven’t won yet... (from Avaz)

US lifts ban on African elephant trophies
More than one online news source reported that the US import ban on elephant trophies from Africa had been lifted. Some say it's been done because the son of the president of the United States wants to be able to kill elephants 'legally'!


Trump's son
"US President Donald Trump just gave a sickening gift to his son: changing the law to let bloodthirsty American hunters murder elephants in Africa and bring their heads home as trophies. 

"Trump Jr. shot and mutilated an elephant — and now his dad is rewarding him by letting anyone join in the slaughter, and allowing them to bring home elephant body parts as souvenirs, even as ivory poaching threatens to wipe these amazing creatures out. 

"Elephants are facing extinction and this is no time to strip them of protection. Trophy hunting drives the slaughter of elephants, increases demand for their body parts, and projects a double standard that makes it harder to tackle ivory poaching," reports say.

"The Trump administration says it will only lift the ban on trophy imports from Zambia and Zimbabwe, countries which, (Trump) claims, have sustainable, well-managed elephant populations."

However, the population of elephants in Zambia is just 21,000—down from over 200,000 just 45 years ago.

Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, government officials trap baby elephants to sell them to zoos!  With Americans joining Zimbabwe in eliminating elephants, that population of 21,000 could be decimated in no time.

Experts say it’s almost impossible to stop poaching when wealthy Americans are shooting elephants for fun. The only way to save elephants from extinction is to stop killing them, and to reduce the demand for their body parts."

Body parts! 

This isn't Victorian England when the wealthy had umbrella stands made from an elephant's foot and lower leg.

I don't know anyone who wants elephant body parts. The people in my world are opposed to the slaughter of animals so close to extinction, and most of them are opposed to the slaughter of wild animals anywhere at all, whether endangered or not.

Surely my friends and I are not alone in our horror following this backward move on the part of the president of the United States.

But wait, isn't he the same president who doesn't believe in global warming? Isn't he the same president aiding and abetting the production of greenhouse gases in his country?

Oh, yes, that president. That's the one. Leading elephants and the world toward extinction.


Posting for Lady Fi's memorable meme, Our World Tuesday



Monday, October 30, 2017

"This one's an artist!"

My continuing family saga

1967 was the year of Canada's 100th Birthday

...it was the year my brother Clint joined the Royal Canadian Navy,
the year my sister Ann's friend Maria started to look at Clint with a twinkle in her eye
...not to mention that it was also the year I left home for the third and final time.

And then...
in 1968, my family grew!

The expectant father was beside himself with fear. Anything could (and often did) happen to women giving birth in the 1960s.
He was aghast!
My parents were planning their retirement, and soon there would be an addition to our family.
Mom was thrilled. She referred to the baby as Robbie even before he was born, but Dad would storm out of the house saying, "I don't know anyone who's having a baby!"
Poor Dad.
White Rock, British Columbia
He couldn't contemplate life without his sweetheart.
My mother was soon taken from the oceanfront suburb of White Rock to Vancouver General Hospital for strict observation, and stayed there until it was judged safe for a caesarean-section.
She thrived, and survived...and so did my new little brother: Robert Edward Davies, born March 7, 1968.
I was living in the city, and had to pass near the hospital on my way home from work. I'd stop most days to visit Mom in the most-difficult-pregnancies ward: a bright, warm, sunny room housing three young women—and my mother.
They were all there for quite a while, under the strict observation of multiple nurses and doctors, for a variety of reasons...and no wonder: one of the young women had triplets. Triplets! She was my age, triplets the same age as my new brother. I often thought of her as Rob was growing up: three infants, three toddlers, three teens...my mind boggled.
Dad was happy to turn his attention to new-fatherhood once he knew Mom was healthy and happy. Some of their friends, however, asked what would become of their retirement.
"We'll take him with us," he replied.
Fast forward to Robbie sitting in a high chair at the age of two. He started walking very early because he had so little weight to carry, but still used a high chair. He was very bright: easily recognizing the sounds of our parents' favourite musicians. His favourite was Louis Armstrong.
San Felipe, where Mom, Dad and
Rob wintered for many years
One day, Mom stepped out of the room for some reason, and quickly returned, but not before that little guy had turned himself around in his high chair, taken a piece of chalk in his hand and, along the bottom of her grocery-list blackboard, made a series of straight vertical lines about an inch high.
Mom was more amazed than worried. Sure, he hadn't turned around in his chair before, and he certainly hadn't tried to use a piece of chalk, but...
"What's that, Robbie?" Mom asked.
"Grass," he replied.
Mom phoned Dad at the family printing shop. "Bring paper," she said. "This one's an artist."
And Rob Davies was, indeed, an artist, and so he has been ever since: in kindergarten in our parents' chosen winter home of San Felipe, on Mexico's Baja Peninsula; in school in White Rock, BC; in art school in Vancouver, BC; at work in Vancouver, California and Germany, and now with his partners at Atomic Cartoons in Vancouver, B.C.
Rob, younger then than now
Atomic's signature cartoon is Atomic Betty. Betty was a young schoolgirl with red hair and superpowers, who lived in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and fought evil whenever necessary.

POSTING FOR
LADY FI'S MARVELLOUS MEME

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

My somewhat illustrious ancestor

My dad's Living Rivers of British Columbia and Living Rivers of British Columbia and Yukon books 'delight all those interested in the outdoors'.

While writing about my father, I felt I must look up some things that have already been written about him, and I've included some of them here.

Outdoor and travel writer, photographer, artist, musician, WWII veteran, and journeyman printer, Gordon Davies (1924–2009) was 'the friend of every river he ever met'.

With my mother, Pauline—and very often with their young son, my brother Rob—my parents explored and fished rivers from Yukon to Mexico.

In his Living Rivers books, 'he showed, in prose and photographs, how deeply he felt about the streams of British Columbia', our home province.

'Well-informed, concerned, caring, and with a wry wit, he leaves us in no doubt: he loved rivers.'

The second volume in Gordon Davies' collection of stories also featured the rivers of the Yukon. From the turbulent Yukon in the far north, to streams flowing into Washington State, he became, in his books, 'a valuable and entertaining guide to fisher and non-fisher alike'.

'An avid fisher could find information about various fish in each river, as well as suggestions as to the best lures and bait. 
Those who didn't fish could find a wealth of material about western Canadian rivers, and about interesting sites along their banks.'

Lots of good, even wonderful, things have been said about my dad (whom I often referred to as 'my illustrious ancestor') and I feel in my heart that I should add something here, but right now I can only quote this verse from 'Voices United'

“I’ve got peace like a river,
I’ve got love like an ocean,
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul.”

NEW NEWS — I have successfully tracked down copies of Dad's books, have ordered some from Amazon, etc., and now am in touch with the publisher of Living Rivers II, about procuring more copies for posterity, and for the nieces, nephews, grandchildren et al.

Sharing this with Lady Fi's memorable meme Our World Tuesday

Monday, October 23, 2017

The musician in the man...my dad


Louis Armstrong
My very-much-younger brother
Rob could recognize the sound of
Louis' horn when he was a toddler.

Below: Glenn Miller
Mom and Dad loved his music
and made sure I loved it, too.



On a wind-up gramophone in the 1950s; on my portable record-player in the 1960s; and later, on a cabinet stereo or even a battery-operated cassette player— my parents loved to play the music of their youth: swing, blues, jazz, swing, and one of their favourites: Dixieland.

When my brother Clint and I were still quite small, we learned the names of all Dad's favourite bands and the band leaders, and several of the musicians, not just Louis and Glenn.
Our younger sister was either too young or too disinterested. Probably too young.
Canadian Army Show
(Wikipedia)


Like so many music students in the pre-WWII era, Dad had to learn violin when he was a youngster, but his real love was the trumpet. He could, and did, play other horns and other instruments, but he always loved his trumpet.

Dad played standing bass* in a dance band, and was a musician in the Canadian Army Show in Britain in WWII (where his other assignments included painting scenery, because he was also a dab hand with a brush).

Army show musicians, singers, and artists, all belonged to the army—they wore army uniforms, but they weren't trained soldiers. The show's job, as bombs dropped all around, was to entertain Canadian, British and other allied troops who were about to be sent across the English Channel to France.

One almost-fateful day, members of the army show were rounded up, put on a train and told their eventual destination was France...once there, they would no doubt be expected to use rifles, hand grenades, and who-knew-what-all weapons. They were not amused.
No amount of talking could convince superior officers that they didn't know one end of a machine gun from the other but, at the last minute, orders came to send them back to the Army Show from which they had come. Great sighs of relief (and cheers, I imagine) from scenery-painters, sign-painters, musicians and other entertainers! They'd have been helpless cannon fodder for sure, I'd bet.

*

Years later, back home, married and enjoying fatherhood, Dad quickly recognized my brother Clint's musical aptitude and eventually taught him to play trumpet.
However, I was, and am, tone deaf, so Dad told me early on that the best he could do for me was to teach me to listen to music, to learn and appreciate the sound of each instrument.
I'm so grateful he did that. I still can't carry a tune in a bucket, but I learned all the words to all the songs I heard on the radio, all the hymns in church, and can enjoy mouthing the words when others around me are singing songs from the 1940s and 50s, the 60s and 70s.
Nothing, however, matched the enjoyment of listening to Dad and Clint playing trumpet together. It gave me great pleasure, all warm and fuzzy and proud.

One of the sweetest and funniest things Dad did: when he bought my portable record-player, it came with a box of 45rpm records: a full set of Glenn Miller's music. Dad said I had to play one Glenn Miller record for every rock'n'roll record. Although I discontinued that one-for-one as I grew older, Dad's patient instruction stood me in good stead when it came to listening to the sound of other musicians, other orchestras, other bands.

*

I love a lassie, a bonnie Hielan' lassie
She can warble like a blackbird in the dell.
(Traditional Scottish song)

My mother, however, carried her own musical instrument within her: she could whistle every song she'd ever heard. She could definitely "warble like a blackbird in the dell" as the song says.

When I’m lonely, dear white heart;
Gordon and Pauline Davies
black the night or wild the sea,
By love’s light, my foot finds
the old pathway to thee.
                                (Eriskay Love Lilt)


*

Dad gave Mom an engagement ring before he went overseas. When he returned to the west coast of Canada, he married her: Pauline MacKenzie, his high school sweetheart.

One last note...when I was 21, my old parents became new parents: and my brother Rob quickly made it clear (when he was a toddler) that he had inherited our dad's artistic ability. Rob has always made his living in the animated cartoon industry, and I'm ever-so-very proud of him, proud to the point of annoying him when I get too gushy. Sorry, kiddo, but that's me.

*Bass, upright bass, string bass, acoustic bass, acoustic string bass, contrabass, contrabass viol, bass viol, standup bass, bull fiddle and bass fiddle. (Wikipedia)

PS—One day I might tell you about the bagpipe lessons I insisted on.

Posting for Fiona's wonderful meme  Our World Tuesday.