31 July 2007

When You Feel Like Quitting...

This is a fantastic new inspirational site for writers, put together by a group of both published and unpublished authors. The opening video alone is worth your time. Enjoy!

Write Attitude

Hmmm, I wonder what kind of inspirational quote caption would go with this picture? [grin]

How about, "When life hands you lemons, smash 'em with a caber."

30 July 2007

Scotophile Monday

Welcome back to Scotophile Monday, where I post a few interesting, funny, or just plain weird snippets of stories from or about Scotland. All sources are credited. Enjoy!

Independence Plans in 14 Days
The Scottish First Minister has revealed that a plan for holding a referendum on Scotland becoming independent and leaving the United Kingdom will be published in the next two weeks. That would fulfill one of the election pledges made by the Scottish National Party about what they would deliver in their first 100 days in office. Read more

Movies Draw Crowds
10% of the visitors who come to Scotland say that they were prompted to make the trip by seeing a film which features the country. That translates into tourism worth hundreds of millions of pounds to the economy, particularly in the areas featured by the movies. It's doubtful if the drugs and violence of "Trainspotting" did much for Edinburgh, but Braveheart, Hamish Macbeth, Highlander, Local Hero, Loch Ness, Rob Roy and many others have prompted those abroad - and many English people - to come to see the locations for themselves. In recent times, the Harry Potter movies have brought people to the romantic steam-driven train journey on the West Highland line, taking in the Glenfinnan Viaduct (ssen above), and the Da Vinci code has resulted in visitor numbers at Rosslyn Chapel soaring by over 30%. Read more

Puffin Colony Recovers
Craigleith Island, off North Berwick, used to be used by 28,000 pairs of breeding puffins. Then, after 1999, numbers plummeted to just a few thousand last year. The problem was an invasion of tree mallow, a non-native species that grew over the entrances to the burrows where the birds nest. Hundreds of volunteers have been working to remove the obstructions and many more birds have returned this year. Read more

Scottish Wildlife Photos: Click here!

Highland Clearances Memorial
The Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, unveiled a statue this week at Helmsdale, north of Inverness, which commemorates the achievement and resilience of the many Scots who left the Highlands and Islands during the Highland Clearances. Read more

Enchanted Forest
Perthshire’s renowned Enchanted Forest sound and light show is set to delight the senses when it returns to Faskally Wood near Pitlochry from 19th October to 4th November, with a brand new theme. The focus of this year’s event will be "Creation", with spectacular lighting effects being used to illustrate the earth’s history from its early volcanic state, the Ice Age and the Jurassic era, right through to modern times. At a special lochside viewing area, visitors will be treated to a spectacular 10 minute choreographed sound and light show which, with the help of high level aerial lighting effects, coloured water jets and smoke, will gradually reveal a scene of turmoil develop and the loch turn into a bubbling cauldron! Read more

The Pineapple, Airth, Near Falkirk

THERE are many so-called follies dotted around Scotland's countryside, but perhaps the strangest is the Pineapple, near the village of Airth on the outskirts of Falkirk. Built in 1761 for John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore, as a garden retreat, it is now in the care of the National Trust for Scotland and the Landmark Trust. The stone building in the shape of said fruit dominates its surrounding gardens. Read more

Castle of the Week: Arnot Tower, Kinross

Scottish Blog of the Week: Scotland Blog

This Week in Scottish History
July 29 1565 - Mary, Queen of Scots, married Lord Darnley.
July 29 1567 - King James VI (aged 13 months) crowned at the Church of the Holy Rude, beside Stirling Castle, following the abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots, five days earlier.
July 30 1918 - Provisions were included in the Scottish Education Bill to ensure adequate facilities for teaching Gaelic in Scotland.
July 30 1938 - First edition of the long-running "Beano" comic was published.
July 31 1786 - "Kilmarnock Edition" of the poems of Robert Burns "Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect" first published.
July 31 1965 - Cigarette advertising banned on television in Britain.
August 1 1714 - Death of Queen Anne; George I, Elector of Hanover becomes king.
August 1 1747 - Proscription Act introduced, banning tartan and the carrying of weapons. The penalty for a first offence was six months in jail and a second offence resulted in transportation for seven years.
August 1 1967 - University of Dundee which was incorporated into the University of St Andrews in 1890, constituted as a separate university.
August 2 1922 - Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, died in Nova Scotia.
August 3 1573 - Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange executed, after defending Edinburgh Castle on behalf of Mary Queen of Scots from May 1568 to May 1573.
August 3 1460 - King James II killed by an exploding cannon at the siege of Roxburgh Castle.
August 3 1305 - William Wallace betrayed and handed over to the English.
August 4 1870 - Birth of the entertainer Sir Harry Lauder.
August 4 1900 - Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, the future Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, born.

28 July 2007

Sorry 'bout that!

My blog template was temporarily hosed, but it looks like it's back to normal. Well, mostly. The Read More coding is still messed up, and I can't figure out why the "In the Gloaming" cover won't display correctly on the sidebar. But I'll have to fiddle with it later, as I'm leaving in a few minutes for a class reunion.

Anyway, "In The Gloaming" is now available for pre-order on Amazon! Woo hoo! This book contains the print version of my novella Abhainn's kiss, The Heron's Call by Isabo Kelly, and Thief of Hearts by J.C. Wilder.

I'm blogging today over on Beyond the Veil, continuing my series about the Celtic Ogham divination. Enjoy!

Micheal McClanathan from The Bagpiper.

27 July 2007

Today's Blog Entry...

...is over here. Enjoy!

Colin MacGregor, Dressed to Kilt show

26 July 2007

Thirteen Haunted Scottish Castles

1. Borthwick Castle, Lothian - an apparition of Mary Queen of Scots, dressed as a page boy, is said to appear; she escaped from Bortwick Castle in 1567 in a similar disguise.
2. Braemar Castle - said to be haunted by a blonde haired, pretty girl, possibly a newly married bride who committed suicide because she thought her husband had abandoned her. (A sighting of her was reported in 1987). The spirit of John Farquharson of Inverey is also around - he is known as the "Black Colonel".
3. Castle Fraser - a young woman who was murdered in the castle in the 19th century and dragged down the stairs before being buried. Her blood on the stairs could not be removed.
4. Cawdor Castle, Invernesshire - the ghost of a lady in a blue velvet dress has been sighted and so has John Campbell, 1st Lord Cawdor.
5. Corgarff Castle - ghostly screams have been heard in the castle, but nobody has hazarded a guess at who, or what, is making them.
6. Craigievar Castle - the ghost here is of one of the Gordon family who was murdered by being pushed out of one of the windows of the castle.
7. Culzean Castle, Ayrshire - a ghostly piper is heard when a Kennedy is getting married (the castle used to be a Kennedy stronghold). Another ghost seen here include a young woman dressed in a ball gown.
8. Edinburgh Castle - needless to say many ghosts have been reported here, including a headless drummer (seen in 1960), a ghostly piper and one of the dogs buried in the pet's cemetery in the castle.
9. Eilean Donan Castle, Wester Ross - A Spanish soldier, killed in the castle or in a nearby battle is said to haunt the castle. And one of the bedrooms is haunted by a Lady Mary.
10. Kellie Castle - The spirit of Anne Erskine who fell from one of the upstairs windows is said to haunt a spiral staircase in the castle.
11. Skibo Castle - although the present castle was built as recently as the 19th century, it is on the site of much earlier buildings. A ghost of a young girl used to haunt old castle. Bones were later found in the castle walls and once they had been buried, the hauntings were never seen again.
12. Stirling Castle - Mary Queen of Scots appears here again - in the guise of the "Pink Lady". There is also a "Green Lady" who appears as an omen of bad news (green is an unlucky colour in Celtic mythology).
13. Glamis Catle - Haunted by a Grey Lady, said to be the ghost of Lady Janet Douglas; also a woman with no tongue; a young boy; and Earl Beardie.


Happy Thursday 13!

24 July 2007

A Little Out of Character, But...

Note: Now that I've calmed down, the following post has been edited.

I try to keep things light and upbeat here in my little corner of the blogworld. But at the moment I'm a wee bit annoyed, which could bloom into full-on aggravation if I have to abandon my long-time email address.

If you're getting emails that look like they're from me concerning a book cataloging site called Shelfari.com, rest assured they are NOT COMING FROM ME. Shelfari has a poorly designed sign-up process and through either a glitch in their system or something I did or didn't click, I unwittingly gave them full access to my address book.

OK, my bad, I wasn't paying close enough attention. HOWEVER, what I don't like is that they make it look like the invites and follow-ups are coming directly from me, not from them.

Hey, use and abuse my address book, but don't put words in my mouth, that's all I ask.

To Shelfari's credit, their customer service has responded promptly to my requests to delete my account and stop the follow-up emails. As you can see from the comment below, they've never lost their cool even though, I admit, I have.

So if you're so inclined, check out Shelfari.com - just be careful if you decide to sign up for this or, for that matter, any other site. Just don't give out your email address and password unless you know exactly what a site is going to do with it. I got lazy, and I got burned.

23 July 2007

Scotophile Monday

Between finishing "Deathly Hallows" [happy sigh] and working on deadline, I've only managed to pull together a few snippets this week. But these are good ones! Enjoy!

All sources credited.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Bookstores across Scotland (and across the world as well, no doubt) opened till after midnight on Friday as the seventh and last Harry Potter book by Scottish-based author JK Rowling began to fly off the shelves. A price war broke out amongst the big book sellers in the UK. These days, at least for popular books, that includes the supermarkets and Asda (part of the WalMart group). They have decided on a loss-making price of £5 (for a book that has a "recommended price" which is over three times that in the UK). Bloomsbury, a previously obscure publisher that produces the Harry Potter books, has been transformed as result of Harry Potter. They announced a record-breaking 12 million copies for the first print run of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in the U.S. alone. In 2001, Ms Rowling purchased a luxurious 19th century estate house, Killiechassie House, on the banks of the River Tay, near Aberfeldy, in Perth and Kinross. [Carolan's note: YOU GO, GIRL!] Later that year she married Neil Murray, an anaesthetist, in a private ceremony at their new home.And here is the rest of it.

Scotty Beaming Down on Linlithgow
Linlithgow has satisfied itself that it is (or will be) the birthplace of Star Trek's Scottish engineer Montgomery Scott - better know as "Scotty" - who beamed Captain Kirk down to his destinations. A memorial plaque is to be erected to mark the event (in the year 2222) and the family of the late actor James Doohan, who played the part, will be the guests of honour at the new "James Doohan Memorial Exhibition" which is to open its doors in Annet House museum. It tells the story of the Canadian-born actor and his role in the cult sci-fi series. The Doohan family have provided photographs and personal items for display and Doohan's props, including his original Star Trek costume. Star Trek models and personal memorabilia will be featured too. The links between Doohan's character and Linlithgow emerged from a reference in a book by Dorothy C Fontana, who wrote many of the original Star Trek episodes. The museum already has a section devoted to Mary Queen of Scots.

Thief Caught on Camera
Cameras at a newsagent and confectioners in Aberdeen have caught a thief slipping in to a display of snacks and walking off with a packet of cheesy Doritos. Nothing unusual in that, perhaps, but thief keeps returning, day after day, for a packet of those cheesy Doritos. So he must have a strong stomach as well as a lot of cheek. He's got it down to a fine art, waiting until there are no customers around and staff are standing behind the till - then he raids the place. Staff have failed to apprehend the "regular customer" That's because the thief can fly away - it's a crafty seagull that has found a new source of food. As long as nobody actually chases after the bird (now named Sam by amused locals) the packet is ripped open on the pavement outside and its contents consumed. Sam has become so notorious (a phone-camera video is now on YouTube) BBC Scotland sent a camera team and reporter to Aberdeen to interview him and show his exploits in the TV evening news. When confronted by the camera evidence and the reporter's accusations, Sam pled the 5th amendment and flew off - leaving the local pigeons to commit a felony by dealing (and eating) in stolen goods...

This Week in Scottish History
July 22 1298 - The army of the English King Edward I, using longbows for the first time, defeated the Scots led by Sir William Wallace at Battle of Falkirk.
July 22 1793 - Alexander Mackenzie completed the first overland crossing of North America.
July 22 1913 - Edinburgh Zoo opened for the first time.
July 23 1745 - Charles Edward Stuart landed on Eriskay at the start of the 1745 campaign.
July 23 1886 - Birth in Glasgow of Arthur Whitten Brown (later Sir Arthur), companion of Alcock on the first west to east aircraft crossing of the Atlantic.
July 24 1567 - Mary Queen of Scots abdicated and the young James VI acceded to Scottish throne. The Earl of Mar was appointed regent.
July 23 1916 - Death of Sir William Ramsay, Scottish chemist who discovered helium, xenon, neon, argon, radon and krypton.
July 24 2002 - The Princess Royal formally opened the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, Scotland's first national park.
July 25 1394 - King James I born.
July 25 1848 - Arthur James Balfour, the only Secretary of State for Scotland to become Prime Minister, born E Lothian.
July 27 1689 - Battle of Killiecrankie in which Graham of Claverhouse (Bonnie Dundee) leading an army of Highlanders in support of the Jacobite cause, defeated King William's army under General Hugh Mackay.
July 29 1565 - Mary, Queen of Scots, married Lord Darnley.
July 29 1567 - King James VI (aged 13 months) crowned at the Church of the Holy Rude, beside Stirling Castle, following the abdication of Mary, Queen of Scots, five days earlier.

Scottish Castle of the Week: Lochmaben Castle, Dumfries

Scottish Proverbs
Twelve highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion.

Be slow in choosing a friend but slower in changing him.

Lachlan's Law No. 34: "A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you're in deep water."

Scottish Blog of the Week: Yours-Truly.net

21 July 2007

Today's Blog Entry...

Is over here. Yes, I'm too busy reading Harry Potter to bother with two posts in one day. So there. [grin]

I am SO dating myself with this one...

20 July 2007

Guesting at Gia Dawn's Fairy Friday

Check out Gia Dawn's fun Fairy Friday page! This week she put up a recipe I found for a kick-butt drink called a Banshee. Yum!

WARNING for those who click on the Read More link - make sure you're not drinking anything before you click it! Just sayin'!

18 July 2007

Thirteen Vacation Pictures!

Time for the obligatory slide show!

These are a few photos from our recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. Enjoy!

Cabin we stayed in at Mounthaven near Mt. Rainier

Nisqually River gorge, Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier

Unicorn Peak, Mt. Rainier National Park

Mt. St. Helens

Ruby Beach, Olympic peninsula

Rialto Beach, Olympic peninsula

Rialto Beach, Olympic Peninsula

Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park

Elk, Hoh River, Olympic National Park

Mountain Goat, Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Waterfall, Olympic National Park

(I didn't take this one!)

Oh, The Joys of Electronics

My PDA died. Again. So guess what I'm doing?

Yup, reconstructing my life. From scratch. Again.

Lurve my HP laptop. But HP's PDAs are crap.

17 July 2007

Today's Blog Entry...

...is over here.

Yes, friends, I'm a member of yet another blog. Yes, I am insane.

Mmm Hmmm. Y'all are learnin'. [grin]
(We'll overlook the fact that he's not holding that sword right - unless he WANTS to get his fingers cut off in battle...)

15 July 2007

Scotophile Monday

Welcome back to Scotophile Monday! Here is where I stick interesting, amusing or outrageous tidbits about Scotland gleaned from the WWW. All sources are credited. Click the Read More link to get started!

"This is Glesca - We'll Just Set Aboot Ye"
The Scottish Parliament is to recognise the members of the public who went to the aid of the solitary, unarmed police officer on duty at Glasgow airport when a Jeep was driven into the airport's main terminal building and set on fire on 30 June. One of those involved suffered a broken leg and ended up in the same hospital as one of the attackers. John Smeaton, a baggage handler who had "got stuck in" to the terrorists amid the flames and minor explosions, became an overnight celebrity as he animatedly described in televised interviews his role in the incident. In typical west of Scotland fashion he recounted how "me and other folk were just tryin' tae get the boot in and some other guy banjoed him!" When an ITV news reporter asked him "What message do you have for the bombers?" he replied "This is Glesca - we'll just set aboot ye".

The Tenacious is the world's largest wooden tall ship. She is one of two square-rigged ships owned by the Jubilee Sailing Trust, a charity which helps disabled people to enjoy the challenge and adventure of tall-ship sailing. She sailed up the Clyde at the start of this week and will take a starring role in the Glasgow River Festival this weekend. The tall ship was moored for most of the week beside the even taller Finnieston Crane, not far from the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre. The new "Squinty Bridge" across the river stopped the Tenacious from sailing further up the river.

It Can Only Get Better?
Newly-weds usually have a long honeymoon spell when everything is sweetness and light, don't they? Well, not for one Aberdeen couple. After a romantic wedding at Ardverikie Estate (made famous by television series Monarch of the Glen) the bride ended up in court for assaulting her husband with her stiletto heels at the Hilton Treetops Hotel a few hours after the ceremony. The battered groom went to reception holding a blood stained towel to his head - and worried staff called the police. When they arrived, they found the distraught bride still in her wedding dress and the room where the couple were due to spend their first night together damaged, with broken glass and wires pulled from electric sockets. The bride was arrested and was later fined £250. Her solicitor reported that the couple were still living together and had offered to pay the hotel for the damage caused - estimated at £500. This being the electronic age, the story has been reported in newspapers around the world...

Research into the Historic Center of Royal Power
Visitors to Scone Palace this week were able to observe archaeologists making preliminary geophysical surveys in the grounds. They are attempting to unravel more about the abbey which once stood there and the famous Moot Hill . That was where generations of Scottish monarchs, including Robert the Bruce, were crowned while seated on the Stone of Destiny. Scone developed from an early medieval royal settlement into a massive Augustinian abbey in the 12th century. Archaeologists are puzzled that such an important building left so little trace above ground. Very little archaeological work has actually been done before at Scone, although it is a place of immense historical importance. The geophysical remote sensing allows the researchers to look underground for buried structures. The present Scone Palace dates from around 1600. This was after the Reformation when the Abbey was sacked and burned by an angry mob. Of course, it is possible that the former abbey provided at least some of the stonework for the new building.

This Week in Scottish History
July 15 1889 - National Portrait Gallery for Scotland opened in Edinburgh.
July 16 1328 - David II, son of Robert I (the Bruce) married Joan, sister of Edward III (he was 4, she was 7).
July 16 1832 - 31 Shetland boats (known as "sixerns") sank in a storm with the loss of 105 crewmen. The event is still recalled as "The Bad Day".
July 16 1970 - 13th Commonwealth Games opened in Edinburgh.
July 17 1652 - Great Fire of Glasgow, destroying nearly one third of the city.
July 17 1695 - Bank of Scotland, first bank to be established by an Act of the Scottish Parliament, opened.
July 17 1790 - Adam Smith, author of "Wealth of Nations" died.
July 18 1290 - Treaty of Birgham whereby Edward I guaranteed survival of Scotland "separate, apart and free without subjection to the English nation".
July 18 1792 - John Paul Jones, naval hero of the American Revolution, died; he was born in Kircudbrightshire in 1747.
July 19 1333 - Battle of Halidon Hill in which Sir Archibald Douglas (guardian of David II) routed by Edward Balliol and Edward III. Scots losses were nearly 600, English losses 14.
July 20 1332 - Thomas Randolph, Earl of Moray and Regent of Scotland, died at Musselburgh. Donald, Earl of Mar, appointed Regent in his place.
July 20 1651 - Battle of Inverkeithing. Royalist force supporting Charles II failed to halt advance of army of Oliver Cromwell heading for Perth.
July 21 1796 - Robert Burns died in Dumfries, aged 37.
July 21 1985 - Sandy Lyle won Open Golf Championship.

Scottish Proverb
Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead.

All of the above are from Rampant Scotland

Wildlife Watch Survey
THE second Wildlife Watch survey, organised by The Scotsman and the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT) in March, was an even greater success than the first, with an increase in the number of replies received from all over Scotland. Sightings of birds, mammals and plants were sent in from the Outer Hebrides to the Scottish Borders, from Argyll and Dumfries and Galloway to Inverness-shire. Many records also came from children. Read more

Race to study Iron Age roundhouses before they are lost to sea storms
EXPERTS are battling against time and the weather to excavate the remains of a historic island site which was uncovered by storms. Hurricane-force winds exposed 2,000-year-old Iron Age houses at Baile Sear, North Uist, in January 2005. A team from St Andrews University is keen to investigate the roundhouses before they vanish in another storm, and believe they have just one winter left. Read more

'Genius' Bruce wins by a head
HIS greatest adversary labelled him "King Hob" - the royal yokel - and many academics have questioned his intellectual prowess. But Robert Bruce, the medieval guerrilla leader who outwitted the English to re-establish an independent Scotland, has been classed a "genius". Tests carried out by a team of Scottish scientists on a cast of the skull of 'Good King Robert' and the application of a formula relating brain size to intelligence have revealed that the 14th-century monarch could have had an IQ of 128. Read more

Skelpaig: Scottish Folk Trio
SKELPAIG are an energetic trio of musicians from across the Highland and Islands who have been delighting audiences since spring 2006 with their blend of swirling melodies and high-energy harmonies. Read more

Blog of the Week
Would you like to work, live, move to Scotland? Or just to find out how is life in Scotland? Here's something much better than travel brochures -- read blogs written by expatriates! Read more

13 July 2007

Vacation picture!

Hey, we're back from vacation! I've got one picture posted over on the Beyond the Veil, one of what I think is a spirit orb in the Seattle Underground. :)

Here's another one I took on one of our many walks in the mountains:

It shows foamflower, oxalis, maidenhair fern, and the maple-like leaves I believe are a young oregon grape plant.

Refresh the page, you'll get a different video every time. Hee! Enjoy!