26 February 2008

Snow!

We've got about 5 or 6 inches on the ground and more to come! Click on the pictures for a larger view. Enjoy! :)

UPDATE! One of the local news stations showed the first picture on TV! I was sitting here minding my own business when I suddenly heard my name coming from the TV set. I looked up and there was my picture. Wide screen, baby! :D

Here's what it looked like at dawn this morning:


A couple hours later:


The dogwood by the front porch:


Heidi, fresh from sticking her whole face in a snowdrift:


Fidget, on the trail of The Evil Squirrel:


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25 February 2008

Celtophile Monday

Welcome back to Celtophile Monday! All sources credited. Enjoy!

First King of Scotland's Palace
Archaeologists believe that they are close to discovering the site of a wooden castle belonging to Kenneth MacAlpine, who united the Picts and the Scots and effectively became the first king of Scotland in the 9th century. They have narrowed down the location in the Perthshire village of Forteviot. The palace is mentioned in medieval and later texts as being a stone building. But because it's early medieval, the researchers believe it would have been a wooden building. Archaeologists have already identified the entrance of an enclosure and a graveyard - which could have been the biggest in Scotland at that time. About 40 researchers and some local people plan to return to the dig later this year in the hope of pinpointing the royal palace. Kenneth MacAlpine died there in 858. He had been forced to move his power base from the west coast of Scotland due to pressure from marauding Vikings from Scandinavia.

Jacobite Ring Sells for £12,000
A ring which was used by Jacobite agents to identify themselves while carrying secret messages from Bonnie Prince Charlie has been sold at auction for £12,200. The ring is set with an emerald and had been given a pre-sale estimate of £3,000. The ring bore a concealed inscription "CRIII 1766" which proved the allegiance of its wearer to the Jacobite cause. Anyone caught with documents signed by the prince after his defeat at Culloden in 1746 faced execution, so proof of authenticity was provided instead by the ring. 1766 was the year that Prince Charles' father James died, leaving the Young Pretender to consider himself the rightful king.

Dates in Scottish History
February 25 1412 - Bishop Henry Wardlaw established St Andrews as a "university" although it was not officially inaugurated until 4 February 1414 when a Bull of Foundation was promulgated by Pope Benedict XIII.
February 26 1935 - Robert Watson Watt demonstrated radar for the first time.
February 26 1950 - Entertainer and song writer Sir Harry Lauder died.
February 27 1560 - Second Treaty of Berwick between England and Scotland, providing English assistance to remove French forces of Mary of Guise from Scotland.
February 28 1638 - Second National Covenant signed in Greyfriars Churchyard.
February 29 1528 - Patrick Hamilton, a Protestant martyr, was burned at the stake in St Andrews.
March 1 1682 - The Advocate's Library (known as the National Library of Scotland since 1925) opened by its founder, Sir George Mackenzie, the Lord Advocate.
March 1 1979 - Scots voted in favour of Devolution, but failed to reach the required 40% of the population in favour of implementing it - due to 36% of the electorate not voting.
March 2 1316 - King Robert II born in Paisley.
March 3 1792 - Robert Adam, architect, died.
March 3 1847 - Alexander Graham Bell born Edinburgh.
March 4 1756 - Sir Henry Raeburn, renowned for painting the portraits of many of the citizens of Edinburgh, born.
March 4 1890 - Forth Rail Bridge opened by Prince of Wales.
March 4 1936 - Jim Clark, Formula I World motor racing champion, born Fife.
March 5 1323 - King David II born.
March 5 1790 - Flora Macdonald, who helped to save Prince Charles Edward Stewart during his flight after the defeat at the Battle of Culloden, died in Kingsburgh, Skye (in the same bed in which Bonnie Prince Charlie had slept during his escape).
March 6 1457 - King James II decreed in an Act of Parliament that there should be regular target practice and military parades and that "football and golf be utterly cried down and not used". This was the first time that the games had been mentioned in Scottish documents.
March 7 1924 - Sculptor and artist Sir Eduardo Paolozzi born in Leith, the eldest son of Italian immigrants.
March 8 1859 - Kenneth Grahame, author of "The Wind in the Willows" born in Edinburgh.
March 8 1936 - The "Oor Wullie" cartoon strip first appeared in the "Sunday Post".

Black Watch Returning to New York
The National Theatre of Scotland production "Black Watch" has received critical and popular acclaim in many parts of the world where it has been performed. Now it is to return to New York from October to the end of November for 59 performances at St Ann's Warehouse where it ran last year to sell-out houses. It recently topped the year-end lists of theatre critics at six leading New York newspapers. The play is also to be taken to the Virginia Arts Festival in Norfolk, Virginia. The production is currently touring in Australasia and is scheduled for Toronto later this year. The play is based on interviews with former soldiers who served with the Black Watch in Iraq.

UK Slackling Masters Competition
Slacklining is an exciting new sport where competitors traverse lengths of nylon between two points. The nylon, unlike a tightrope, is flat so competitors can walk on the surface and is secured loosely enough to allow them to bounce, twist and turn on the line, performing awesome tricks and stunts. Slackline distances can be as long as 500ft or as high as a staggering 5000ft - fortunately, competitors have a safety line connected to the tightrope, so they don't fall far. The UK Slacklining Masters Competition takes place at the Lochaber Leisure Centre, Fort William, on 23 February. The 10-metre slackline requires immense skill and concentration not just to stay on, but to do the best tricks too. Competitors are judged on who can walk the furthest in an allotted time and perform the best trick. The event is part of the Fort William Mountain Festival, which has been taking place from 15 to 23 February.
Photo of Jon Ritson slacklining by Iain Ferguson.

Wildcat Search
A survey has begun to find out how many of Scotland's most elusive predator - the wildcat - are still surviving in the Scottish Highlands. The last full survey in 1983/87 found that it was confined mainly to Perthshire, Angus, Grampian and the eastern Highlands, with a small population in Argyll and Lochaber. A recent, smaller study in 1995, estimated that there were only 3,500 of these animals in the whole area. The wildcat used to be widespread throughout Europe, Asia and Africa, but is now extinct in many of these areas due to loss of habitat and hybridisation with domestic cats that have escaped to the wild. They are mainly brown, with a black stripe along their back and black bands around the tail, neck and shoulders.

All the above are from RampantScotland.com.

Scottish Web Page of the Week
Scotland the Wild

Doubts Over Authenticity of Blarney Stone
Millions of tourists may have kissed the wrong Blarney Stone in an effort to get the gift of the gab, according to a new study. The authenticity of the Blarney Stone, kissed by about 400,000 tourists each year, has been questioned by Mark Samuel, an archaeologist and architectural historian, and Kate Hamlyn in a new book. According to legend, kissing the stone at Blarney Castle, Co Cork, endows the person with the gift of gab, but the authors say the present stone only came into use in 1888 for health and safety reasons. Up until then, visitors wishing to kiss the stone had to be dangled from the castle by two people holding their ankles. Read more

Welsh Woman Honored for Contribution to RAF in WWII
A woman pilot who was among those who flew replacement fighters to RAF bases during World War II has spoken of her joy at the recognition for her work.
Margaret Frost, 87, is one of 15 women and 100 men who are to have a special merit award for serving in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). The parson's daughter from Bwlchllan, near Lampeter, west Wales, flew Spitfires, Hurricanes, Mustangs. She said: "We just went wherever we were needed to go." Read more

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21 February 2008

13 Reasons to Have a Dachshund In Your Life (Or Not)

Dachshunds have owned me since I was 8 years old and my Dad brought home a runt-of-the-litter pup for my Mom's birthday.

Yeah, Mom loved that. LOL

My husband would love to have a big dog, but he's resigned to the fact that as long as he's married to me, it's dachshunds. Period.

1. I like to have them in pairs, because they're like potato chips. One just isn't enough. Or, more accurately, a "single" invariably develops delusions of royalty. Making them share space takes 'em down a peg.

2. If you're a dachshund owner and have somehow managed to convince your darlings that the furniture isn't theirs to wallow in, please let me know. I'll bottle it and sell it and become rich beyond my wildest dreams.

3. My own experience aside, I don't recommend dachsies as your first dog. You want unquestioned obedience and loyalty? Pick an easier breed, like an affable Lab. With few exceptions, most dachsies are NOT good with very small children and toddlers - they'll get annoyed with ear and tail pulling, and nip at the kid's nose.

4. Learn to keep all bedroom doors shut. You will learn why on the first cold, rainy day and your prince or princess decides it's more comfortable to pee on your bed than outside in the wet. Corollary: You will not discover it until bedtime and find yourself changing sheets (and plotting your dachsie's demise) at 11 p.m.

5. You will most likely never get your weener dog completely potty trained. See above. The best you can hope for is 90% compliance.

6. Obedience class? Excuse me while I take a minute to laugh uncontrollably. I took our current Queen of Everything when she was a puppy - she still views me as the lowest in the pack order and won't follow any command unless she can see the treat in my hand and ready to dispense. Even with a treat, "heel" and "here" are to be ignored at all times.

7. They're hounds. Hounds are bred to hunt. If it moves, they'll run after it. If it's small and furry, and they can catch it, the'll tear it to shreds. And I don't mean just plush toys. 'Nuff said.

8. Don't let the short legs fool you. These little suckers are FAST. Go ahead - try to catch one on the loose. Can you say "greased pig?" Unless you've got a necklace of liver treats around your neck, good luck!

9. Be prepared to be aggravated at least once a week. Most of them are OCD about at least one thing. With mine, it's their rawhide bones. I have to get the ginormous mondo size bones, because if I get the tiny ones they just run around with a mad look in their eyes until they find the perfect place to hide them - usually under someone's pillow, in a laundry basket, or stuffed between the couch cushions. And if it's nice and gooey from being chewed and drooled on, all the better.

10. Even if your little darling doesn't seem to be a habitual chewer, they will occasionally chew. It will, invariably, be your most expensive pair of shoes. Your Bluetooth headset. Your favorite pen. Whatever's in the bathroom waste basket.

11. Dachsies, especially in pairs, have courageous hearts bigger than their bodies. And their brains. After all, they were bred to face down badgers in their own holes. They'll go after any dog in their yard, even if that dog is 150 times their size and weight.

12. Again, they're hounds. They're gonna bark, especially if you have more than one. Because hey, if their companion is barking, it must be worth barking at, even if they can't see it what the fuss is all about. Even a mini dachshund can sound like a much bigger dog; but if you're unlucky, you'll get one with an eardrum-splitting squeak for bark.

13. Okay, now for the good stuff - there are few breeds as cuddly and affectionate as a dachshund. On cold winter days, they are your best friend. And even if you've only been gone for 10 minutes, when you walk in the door they cover you in kisses. They're stuffed with personality, and will quite easily steal even the most hardened heart.

Besides, I challenge anyone to just look at a dachshund and not smile.

Recently discovered weener dog blog: The Long and the Short of it All

After all this, still want one? Click here!

18 February 2008

Celtophile Monday


Ghost-Like White Stag Spotted
A mythical and ghostly creature has appeared in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands -- and has been caught on camera. The rare white stag, from the red deer species, is believed to be among just a tiny handful living in Britain, according to a conservation group. The John Muir Trust is now keeping the stag's location secret for fear of poachers. White stags are seen as a magical and powerful force in many mythologies. The animal's ghostly glow comes from a recessive gene which causes leucism, a condition which reduces the normal brown coloring in hair and skin. They are not albinos, which have red eyes due to lack of pigment. In Celtic traditions, white stags represent messengers from the afterlife. Arthurian legend has it that the creature can never be caught -- King Arthur's pursuit of the animal represents mankind's spiritual quest. Read more

Grave Might Be First Historical Evidence of Druids
The first historical evidence of the existence of a mysterious ancient sect known as the Druids, might have been found in the form of a series of graves discovered in a gravel quarry at Stanway near Colchester, Essex, in UK. According to a report in Discovery News, these graves have been dated to 40-60 AD, and at least one of the burials, it appears, may have been that of a Druid. Read more

Celtic Music Discovery of the Week
Peat Bog Faeries - A softer version of Wolfstone, this band does a pleasing-to-the-ear fusion of trad/rock/jazz. Verra nice! :) Found 'em on MySpace.

Weekly Scotland Outdoors Podcast
Hear the best of Out of Doors, Grassroots, and Landward, compiled weekly by Euan McIlwraith. Download Outdoors' weekly podcast, with features to interest anyone taking part in outdoor activities or working the land. It's ideal listening, even if you're one of those who prefers to enjoy the Scottish countryside from the comfort of your armchair! Be across the issues in the news, stay up to date with concerns over access or the environment and hear about the latest initiatives affecting our great outdoors. Read more

Blog of the Week
Arnish Lighthouse - " have been in Lewis since late 2004 and am observing life on this fascinating island from an outsider's perspective. I look out at the lighthouse every day - as it looks out over the island and the sea."

In Search of Scotland
I might have posted this one before, but it's a nice page... :)

Warm Up For The Frostbite!
Cornish surfers are being told to warm up for the second leg of the Frostbite Session that was previously scheduled to take place in Polzeath. (That's right, folks, surfing in Cornwall. In winter. Read more by Simon Alexander

Having a Ba' in Jedburgh
The townsfolk of Jedburgh squared up to each other yesterday for the annual Jethard HandBa'. The traditional ball game, which has been played in the Border town for 250 years, pits the Uppies (residents of the higher part of Jedburgh) against the Doonies (residents from the bottom half of the town). The game uses a leather ball stuffed with straw and decorated with ribbons. It is then thrown into the group of men which gather together in a scrum and then manhandle it through the streets. Legend has it that the origin of this game came from a particularly bloody battle between the Scots and the English, the victorious Scots used the head of a fallen English general as a ball. Read more and watch a video

12 February 2008

Hee! I'm Hell's Librarian!

I totally horked this from Saroya's very lovely MySpace page... :)







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11 February 2008

Celtophile Monday

Hi! Welcome back to my weekly foray into the Celtic web world. You may have noticed I've changed the name - and focus - from Scotophile Monday to Celtophile Monday. Just thought I'd widen the scope a bit. :) All sources credited. Enjoy!

Meet Britain's First Feminist - Boudicea
Britain's history is rich in fiery queens, and the first such heroine, tall with red hair down to her waist, commanding and brave, was Boadicea, warrior leader of the ancient Britons. She lived at the same time as the emperors Claudius and Nero, and led a surprisingly successful British revolt against Roman rule in AD60-61 (which, for reference, was when St Paul was writing epistles and St Mark composing his Gospel). She was a notable orator. Her enemies, the Romans, said her voice was strident, but, as Margaret Thatcher found, any woman seeking to establish authority over an assembly of men is open to this accusation. Read more

Roman Fort Discovered in Cornwall
University of Exeter archaeologists have discovered a Roman fort in South East Cornwall, England. Dating back to the first century AD, this is only the third Roman fort ever to have been found in the county. The team believes its location, close to a silver mine, may be significant in shedding light on the history of the Romans in Cornwall. Read more

Scotland's Wildlife Crimewave
Criminal damage to wildlife and the countryside in Scotland is soaring according to a new report by government advisers. Latest figures show a 12-year high in the number of incidents involving bird poisonings with pesticides, as well as 165 incidents of badger baiting over the past three years. In addition, there have been 27 cases of potential criminal damage to protected landscape and wildlife areas over the past year. Examples include building unauthorised tracks across protected areas to allow easier access to game shooting, constructing illegal fences and allowing animals to graze on land set aside for regenerating native forests. Read more

Pouring Oil on Troubled Waters
Plans by the Forth Ports authority to allow ship-to-ship oil transfers in the Firth of Forth were met by a storm of opposition when they were made public last year. It would have resulted in nearly 8 million tonnes of crude oil a year being transferred between tankers in the estuary of the river Forth between Edinburgh and Fife. There was fierce opposition from local councils, residents and environmental groups who warned of the dangers to wildlife both in the water and on the shores. Now, after an "extensive consultation exercise" and "talks" with the Scottish Government - and with the UK Government announcing that it was to legislate on ship-to-ship transfers in all UK waters this year - Forth Ports made the pragmatic announcement this week that they would not be proceeding with the plan. It would have increased the profits of Forth Ports - but risked the environment paying a high price. Source: RampantScotland.com

First Super Bowl Scot
There was more than usual interest in Scotland in the Super Bowl game last Sunday when the New York Giants played New England Patriots. For the first time ever, a Scottish born player was participating in the biggest event in America's sporting calendar - and he produced a flawless performance. Lawrence Tynes, Giants' 29-year-old kicker, opened the scoring with a 32-yard field goal and later got the two extra points after his team-mates scored two touchdowns. The New York Giants denied the Patriots what would have been a record-breaking run of 19 wins to win the Super Bowl 17-14. Tynes was born in Greenock in Scotland and moved to the US with his American father when he was 10. Earlier in his NFL career, Tynes returned to Scotland to play for the Scottish Claymores when they participated in the NFL's European League. Source: RampantScotland.com

"Flying Sheep"
Climate change and the higher temperatures in winter are producing a range of new challenges for many businesses. One example has been that grass is continuing to grow during the winter. While that is not material for most home-owners with gardens (though lawn mowers may have to be brought into use earlier than in the past) it is a major headache for commercial turf growers such as Kinnesswood Farm near Loch Leven in Fife. Because the ground is soft and muddy, heavy grass-cutting machinery can't be used at this time of year. But the answer has been provided by the nearby nature reserve, where 22,000 Pink-Footed geese arrive each winter. The geese welcome the opportunity to graze on fresh grass and munch away from dawn to dusk. The farm owner says as geese are grazing animals, they are like "flying sheep." But he added that it would be helpful if they'd learn to walk up and down in straight lines... Source: RampantScotland.com

Shaggy Dog Stories
A new exhibition has opened to mark the 150th anniversary of the appearance of Edinburgh's most famous dog - Greyfriars Bobby. The Skye terrier was first seen in the church graveyard when its master, police constable John Gray, was buried on February 10, 1858. The exhibition, in the nearby Central Library on King George IV Bridge, has been organised by the One o'Clock Gun Association. There is an link between Greyfriars Bobby and the One o'Clock Gun which fires at Edinburgh Castle each day. When the gun fired, Bobby would trot out of the graveyard to be fed by a Colour Sergeant Donald McNab Scott, who was a clerk at the castle. The sergeant, who lived in nearby Candlemaker Row, also took Bobby for walks along King George IV Bridge - but the terrier always turned round at the end of the bridge and returned to the graveyard. Historic Scotland are in talks with the One o'Clock Gun Association to move the display to Edinburgh Castle later this year.

Scottish History
February 10 1306 - Robert the Bruce murdered Red Comyn.
February 10 1495 - A bull from Pope Alexander VI confirmed the foundation of Aberdeen University.
February 10 1723 - Rev John Witherspoon, President of Princeton College, signatory to the US Declaration of Independence, baptised at Yester.
February 11 1895 - Coldest temperature ever recorded in Scotland, -27.2C at Braemar.
February 11 1940 - Author and politician John Buchan died in Canada.
February 12 1846 - Rev Henry Duncan, founder of the world-wide savings bank movement, died near Ruthwell.
February 13 858 - Kenneth MacAlpin, King of Dalriada and the Picts, died at Forteviot.
February 13 1692 - Massacre of 38 of the Clan Macdonald by government order at Glencoe.
February 14 1565 - Mary Queen of Scots meets Lord Darnley for the first time. They married in July 1565.
February 14 1876 - Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone (Patent 174461). Two hours after it was lodged, his rival, Elisha Gray, applied for a similar patent. Bell's was granted.
February 15 1971 - Decimal currency introduced, abandoning 12 pennies to a shilling and 20 shillings to a pound.
February 17 1540 - King James V passed a law which recognised Scotland's gipsies.
February 19 1972 - Death of film director and producer John Grierson, a pioneer of documentary film making. He is credited with being the first person to use the word 'documentary' (in 1926).
February 20 1437 - King James I murdered in Perth by a group led by Sir Robert Graham.
February 20 1472 - Orkney and Shetland annexed from Norway.
February 21 1945 - Eric Liddell, "Chariots of Fire" athlete, winner of 1924 Olympics 400 metres, died in Japanese internment camp in China.
February 22 1371 - David II died at Edinburgh Castle.

Lachlan's Laws #58
Never argue with an idiot - people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

Blogs of the Week
Ice Cream Ireland - Kieran Murphy is a chocoholic ice cream man (a director of Murphys Ice Cream) living in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland.
Bluegrass Ireland Blog - Comprehensive and up-to-date news of bluegrass and old-time music events in Ireland.

07 February 2008

Thirteen Things A Stir-Crazy Woman Does


Okay, so yeah, y'all know I had foot surgery about a month ago. You'd think I'd be used to it, after all the surgeries I've had, but it never gets easier to be laid up for weeks on end. In the middle of winter. It hasn't been made easier by the fact that my daughter wrecked her car (she's okay) and now must drive mine, which means right about the time I'm feeling ready to get out into the world, I have no wheels.

The best revenge? Daughter is forced to drive the Mom-Mobile, possibily the most uncool car in the world.

Hey, that's what you get for wrecking your cool car, honey child. [smirk]

1. Lie in bed, staring at ceiling, wiggling foot all night because the pins are just annoying enough to keep you from relaxing. And the mind monkeys won't settle down.

2. Give up trying to sleep, get up at 4 a.m., wake up husband with the scrrrriiitch of velcro straps as you put on your walking boot.

3. Wander around the house with the gait of Igor from Young Frankenstein, trying not ot make noise and failing.

4. Clean bathroom cabinet drawers at 4:30 a.m.

5. Watch Martha Stewart.

6. Watch marathon episodes of past seasons of America's Next Top Model, wondering why you find a show filled with the world's shallowest women so fascinating.

7. Start talking to the morning anchors of Good Morning America.

8. Cry when Robin Roberts walks down the Fashion Week runway, sans wig.

9. Your best friend is a guest on Raven Radio. You call in just to harass her. Because hey, buy her a martini at RT and all will be forgiven.

10. Find a pint of Ben & Jerry's Brownie Chocolate Chunk ice cream hidden in the back of the freezer, and seriously consider murdering your husband for hiding it from you.

11. Stump out to the mailbox to carry on a conversation with the mail lady about the smashed up car parked at the curb. While standing in the rain. On crutches. With no coat.

12. Much as you appreciate your family taking over kitchen duty, you begin to miss your own cooking.

13. Look forward to doing laundry because, for that short time, you're moving your rear end around instead of watching it spread across the couch.

Here's to a better week ahead!

See more Thursday Thirteens!

05 February 2008

WWBD?

I caught this on a cable channel and remember how much I liked this song, and the video.

This one's for Beth. [grin]

04 February 2008

Scotophile Monday


Photo of the week:
Ebbing Tide by Mark Ferrier. Ayrshire, Scotland.
Source: Flickr Scotland blog

Blog of the Week:
Mountainman - "Exploring the hills and coasts of Mull and Iona and occasionally elsewhere, with a close eye on the geology."

Rare Elvis Memorabilia Found in Edinburgh House
Rare Elvis Presley memorabilia has been recovered from a property in Edinburgh.
The items, which include a gold Elvis record and a framed signed picture of the singer, were found during a recent house search in the centre of the city. A framed scrap piece of paper was also recovered featuring the lyrics to the hit song American Pie, apparently written by Don McLean himself. Lothian and Borders Police said the items may have been stolen and urged the original owner to come forward. Read more

And The Oscar for Ugliest Location Goes To...
From the Hogwarts Express steaming across Glenfinnan Viaduct to the towering Wicker Man being consumed by flames on the Galloway coast, Scotland has produced some of the most iconic images in film history. But now the national film agency has claimed that our scenery cannot compete with the unspoilt beauty offered by countries such as New Zealand and Canada. Instead, Scottish Screen is promoting a series of jaw-droppingly ugly locations in a bid to make Scotland the grim and gritty film capital of the world. Read more by Marc Horne

Red Alert! Saving the Scottish Red Squirrel
They are one of the rare delights of the Scottish countryside, a picture of nature at its best. But the red squirrel is under threat and Scotland on Scotland is today launching a major bid to help save one of the country's most iconic and endangered animals. Scotland on Sunday has teamed up with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) to support a project which aims to preserve the future of the red squirrel population. Scientists believe that the much-loved native mammals face extinction unless urgent action is taken, and we are calling on our readers across the country to report from the front line of the red's battle for survival. The greatest threat to the species is the steady northwards encroachment of their larger and more aggressive grey cousins. Read more