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Utah, United States
One night while tucking Abby into bed she sweetly chimed, "good night! Sleep tight! Don't let the bed bites bug you!" I like her thinking. Sometimes life bites. The trick is to not let it bug you.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Wha's Like Us?

I've been a little immersed in Scottish-ness for the past couple of months, and our Highland Games tour took us to Payson last Saturday for one of our favorite events. The beautiful park venue, friendly vibe and nonexistent entry fee lends to a casual, family-friendly feel at the Payson Scottish Festival. The Salt Lake Tribune did a nice write-up which included the photo of Abby, above.

The night before Payson, Abby and I attended a fantastic concert at the Sandy Amphitheater by Kiwi performer of Scottish-themed music, Steve McDonald. His music is sentimental but exuberant. I bought a CD and he signed it. Abby and I have now listened to it at least 10 times. If I've been immersed in any Scottish-ness, I have no one but myself to blame!

The CD we purchased is titled "Highland Farewell," with a collection of songs that tell the story of the "Highland Clearances" that took place when land owners drove poor farmers off their lands and replaced them with herds of sheep, prompting an exodus which led some of the highlanders overseas. This song is about the strength of the Scottish people who did indeed "rise again" and thrive in many different places on earth. Now, apparently over 120 million people around the world claim Scottish clan heritage. Could you even fit 120 million people in Scotland? That number would surely spin the head of the guy who first said "wha's like us? Damn few and they're aa deid!"

Anyway, while searching for Steve McDonald videos on You Tube, I happened across a neat series of documentaries called "the Clans of Scotland." Very interesting, if sometimes harsh stuff. I did want to thump the host a few times as he brusquely detailed the history of Clan Campbell, although I appreciated his pointing out that over 800 Campbells were slaughtered in 1644 by the MacDonalds in Inverary, prior to the unfortunate and more well-known events of Glencoe (in which 38 MacDonalds were killed).  Frankly, pretty much every different clan episode I've watched has outlined a bloody progression of battles, squabbles, and land-grabs. My favorite line from a sturdy highland reenactor was: "If you were'nae fat and strong, you did'nae survive!" This sentiment may become my new motto.

This link will take you to the 2nd in a series of 3 videos that complete the Campbell episode. It explains how the Campbell and MacDonald feud was wrapped up in the religious reforms of the time. I've included it here, mainly because I love the dude who speaks at 3:30, Professor Ted Cowan. His enthusiasm for the subject (and his FABULOUS Glasgow accent) made the whole series for me.

Growing up, I remember Gran always expressing her distaste for history class because "history was so bloody." If this was the stuff she was getting in school, I don't blame her for feeling that way! Gran was a Campbell, as were some of my ancestors on the other side of the family. Though I've connected myself officially to Clan MacNicol recently, I grew up understanding that my family felt its strongest connection to the larger, more widely renowned Campbell clan. When I was 9 and my my family was on a road trip through the Scottish highlands, my father's loyalties were embedded in my brain when, after reading "CAMPELLS NOT WELCOME" on a sign on a restaurant door, my disgusted dad marched back to the car announcing, "we're not eating here!"

Now I'm married to someone with MacDonald (and other) clan lineage. I'd like to think that modern thought allows us to look past the old clan biases, but the fact that I put so much effort into trying to not think about the rift only shows how some old ways of thinking might just be embedded in DNA. It is fun going to different highland games, though, and walking from clan tent to clan tent with my kids telling the people, "we have some Rosses! We have some Nicols! We have Campbells and Mac Donalds!" It's much more enjoyable to revel in the bonds than in the rivalries. I hope that my kids will take pride in all their Scottish connections.
MacNicol tartan

My Aunt Jean once said to me, "there are none so Scottish as those who leave Scotland." This may be true, and judging by the turn-outs at local Scottish events, applies to plenty of folks who never lived there in the first place! My Scottish friends and family may think my fixation is a little ridiculous, but I'm sure having fun with it.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

These aren't my kids; they're my entourage.

Us last month. We were on a slope: no growth spurt for me.
I've spent a lot of time contemplating family lately (you'd have no clue based on my last two posts). A documentary called New Economic Reality: Demographic Winter has left my mind buzzing about the impact that families (or lack thereof) have on cultures and their futures. I have attached the link for part 2, which is less statistical and more human-interestical (oh yes I did) than part 1, but if you have the time, I recommend watching both. The overview of how societal events over the past century have resulted in changed families, economic decline and an uncertain future is broad in scope and not so simplistic as to be strictly ideological. Lots of interesting experts and graphs. I thought much about my sociology degree-holding sister while watching. I bet I would have found her courses very enjoyable.

 In the spirit of promoting families, I'd also like to call your attention to our friends, the Augades. Scott and I met Steve in our fateful college Japanese class, as he had also served a Japanese mission. About a decade later, he and Deidra moved into our neighborhood, and now our sons are buddies. This very cool family (you don't get much cooler than a roller derby mom) recently returned from China with their adorable new daughter and sister, Daisy. Deidra's blog, among other things, documents their road to adoption, the anticipation and anxiety, and ultimate union with darling Daisy. Recent weeks have read like a travel diary, and now I feel as though I too have walked through busy, gritty Chinese streets. I'm a hooked follower, Deidra; keep up the awesome writing!

I wish everyone, whatever your family situation may be, lots of love and harmony. And to my American friends, I wish a fabulous Fourth full of punks and blooming flowers. (If you don't know what those are, maybe you're from California.) I'll leave you with my own rendition of "the Stars and Stripes Forever": Three cheers for the red, white and blue! Da da da, da da dee, da, da-daaaaaa da. Da da, da da da, da da daaaaaa, da da da-daa, da da doooooo..... etc. ;)  -this is what happens when you blog after midnight