Monday, June 28, 2010

Astonishing! 11 Weeks

I find I often start my posts very late at night. I am not convinced that this is an advantage - probably my thoughts are fuzzy and ramble more this close to midnight. However, I wanted to sneak a post in this week so I wouldn't miss a week - there aren't that many left!

It is very remiss of me, I realized this past week, to not have written about the McCloud genealogy film that was part of a large genealogy program that involved President Eyring, the author David McCullough and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. How I wish I could have been present for such an exciting evening. Jared, bedecked in kilt and fancy jacket, played "Amazing Grace" and was joined by a stirring and beautiful arrangement of the choir singing the same song.

There is a link:

There is a picture of Jared, and also, if you click on the videos tab, the forth video is the McCloud family video. It's very exciting! As I said, I wish I could have been there, but the program, I know, was an unqualified success!

Also, someone who attended this wrote of it in their blog:

Unforgettable indeed!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Waulking with Oomph! *** 12 Weeks

For hundreds of years in the highlands and islands of Scotland, after weaving a piece of cloth, the women would get together to full the cloth. They would get it wet and either with their feet or their hands pound and work it until it shrunk the desired amount.

Last night I had an opportunity to lead a simulated waulking. Heather's friend Amy (I mentioned her earlier as her sheep had lambs recently) was contacted by a local Scottish society to give a presentation about Scottish methods of using wool, spinning, weaving, etc. And Amy called on us to help her with the Scottish side of things.

Amy brought several blankets that she had woven, as well as her spinning wheel, wool, even some sheep skins. She gave a wonderful presentation on all the steps involved: washing the wool, dying it, carding or combing it, then spinning it. And she spoke of the warmth and protection that wool provides, even if it gets wet. Our small audience of five of the members of this Scottish society were a very excited and attentive group. And while Amy spoke, Katie sat at her wheel spinning (Katie is a beautiful spinner!).

Then Heather spoke about the waulking. Donald had sent us an excellent article he had written about it and about the Harris Tweed. Then we took one of Amy's blankets and we all gathered around a small table to simulate the waulking, by beating the cloth and singing to the rhythm of the beat. To prepare for this I had listened to recordings of several waulking songs, and the one I finally chose was from a recording called "Waulking Songs from Barra" recorded back in the late 1960's. I liked this recording because it wasn't polished up and recorded nicely, it was just a group of older women recreating a waulking from their younger days. I had my lesson with Donald earlier in the day and he had me sing it for him. "Well..." he said, "That's fine, but you need to put more oomph into it." He further explained that it was like a party - that there was much laughter and much energy as they sang and pounded the cloth. He had me sing it for him about four times more!

Waulking on Eriskay, 1899
The waulking songs are a sort-of call and response. The leader sings a line, then everyone sings a line together, and so on. So I taught everyone the response phrase, and we began. It was very energetic and exhilarating. Everyone enjoyed the experience. I certainly did, and I think I managed it with enough oomph!

Here is the song we sang:

Eile le ho rò ho hù o

Eile le ho rò ho hù o

Robh thu ‘sa ‘bheinn o ho hù o

Eile le ho rò ho hù o

An diugh n’ an dè o ho hù o

Nan d’fhuair thu sprèidh?

Cha d’fhuair an leth

Cò tha bhuat dhiubh?

Ogha Buidheig

Ogha Ruadhain

Ogha na bà

Maoile ruaidheadh

Gura h-e mo

Run an t-uasal

Chunna mi’n dè

Seachad suas thu

Air each glas na

Nan ceum luatha

Le d’bhiodagan

Ortho chruachain

Le d’ghunna snaip

Ortho ghualainn

Dol a shealg na

h-èilde ruaidheadh

eala cha dig

slàn o d’luaidhe.

(the ho hu o is sung at the end of each line, and the "Eile le ho ro ho hu o" is sung between each line.)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Elsie and Mairi *** 13 Weeks

Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm
Years ago I read a book on the 1st World War published by the Imperial War Museum and in it was a chapter about two extraordinary women, Elsie Knocker and Mairi Chisholm who worked at the Western Front all throughout the war. I wished at the time that I could find out more about them. Well, this past week I have started a fabulous new book about them called Elsie and Mairi Go To War by Diane Atkinson. I hadn't realized how exciting and brave these women really were. It seems before the war they were both avid motorcycle enthusiasts and participated in races. The author explains that back in the 1910's motorcycles were fickle, difficult creatures and that you would have to know how to fix and service them constantly if you drove them. Elsie was thirty, and Mairi eighteen at this time. And when war was declared in August 1914, they left almost immediately for Belgium and worked at the front lines bringing in wounded, serving them soup and cocoa, constantly risking their lives and living in great discomfort to bring relief to the soldiers. They were admirable women, and it is a rollicking, fascinating read so far.
There is an online exhibit of sorts at the Imperial War Museum:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Mairi Bheag! 14 weeks!

This past weekend, my dear friend Sarah, her husband Erik and their children Tommy and Mairi came to visit us. They came on Friday night and left Sunday evening. It was a delightful weekend, and so wonderful to see them all, and especially to meet "Little Mairi" (Tommy calls me "Big Mairi"). We didn't do much - just relaxed, took some walks, talked, etc. it was really perfect.

On Saturday night we watched a "Jeeves & Wooster" episode. Tommy got all excited and exclaimed "Jeeves and Wooster!" enthusiastically. In fact, I think he called our dog Wooster (his name is Rooster, which is a silly name for a Dalmatian). I think it was an improvement.

I hadn't realized how red Little Mairi's hair is. It's a beautiful, light, vibrant red. And she has dark blue eyes, and it's a lovely combination. She's such a good girl, too.

I'm so glad that Sarah, Erik and their family were willing and able to make the drive here. It was delightful having them.