Celebrations

Burns Night

I have to admit that I have never attended a Burns night celebration. Just what is Burns night? Why it’s just the celebration of the birthday of Scotland’s poet laureate, Robert Burns.

Rabbie, as he is known, is probably best known for Auld Lang Syne, which is traditionally sung on Hogmanay, or New Year’s Eve as we Americans know it.

Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796), also known familiarly as Rabbie Burns, the National Bard, Bard of Ayrshire and the Ploughman Poet and various other names and epithets, was a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a light Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these writings his political or civil commentary is often at its bluntest.

He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish diaspora around the world. Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature. In 2009 he was chosen as the greatest Scot by the Scottish public in a vote run by Scottish television channel STV.

As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His poem (and song) “Auld Lang Syne” is often sung at Hogmanay (the last day of the year), and “Scots Wha Hae” served for a long time as an unofficial national anthem of the country. Other poems and songs of Burns that remain well known across the world today include “A Red, Red Rose“, “A Man’s a Man for A’ That“, “To a Louse“, “To a Mouse“, “The Battle of Sherramuir“, “Tam o’ Shanter” and “Ae Fond Kiss“.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Burns

Of course, the traditional meal served at a Burns night dinner is haggis, neeps and tatties. So what are these foods?

If you don’t know what haggis is, that may be a good thing. True haggis is illegal in the USA due to some of the organs used in the traditional recipe. The joke is that a haggis is a small furry creature found in the highlands of Scotland. The legs on one side of it’s body is longer than the other side so it can run around the mountain side. Funny, but not true. Click the link above to see what it really is. I don’t know if the haggis we had in Scotland was traditional or not, but I really enjoyed it. Wifey, not so much. Neeps are mashed turnips and tatties nothing more than mashed potatoes. The neeps and tatties are not to be cooked together. And don’t forget the dram of Scotch whisky!

The traditional Burns night dinner.

Rabbie so enjoyed haggis he wrote a poem about it. It’s in the old Scot’s language so don’t expect it to understand it. This Wikisource page has the English translation.

“Address to a Haggis” (1787)
Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face, 
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye worthy o’ a grace
As lang’s my arm.
The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.
His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!
Then, horn for horn, they stretch an strive:
Deil tak the hindmost, on they drive,
Till a’ their weel-swall’d kytes belyve
Are bent like drums;
The auld Guidman, maist like to rive,
‘Bethankit’ hums.
Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?
Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!
But mark the Rustic, haggis-fed,
The trembling earth resounds his tread,
Clap in his walie nieve a blade,
He’ll make it whissle;
An legs an arms, an heads will sned,
Like taps o thrissle.
Ye Pow’rs, wha mak mankind your care,
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis

Pipers welcome guests to the dinner, and then after dinner a ceilidh (dance) begins.

Enjoy!

The piping in of the haggis and the Address to a Haggis. (I would turn the volume down if anyone is sleeping or you’re in a public place). The pipes are not appreciated by everyone, sadly.

Peace,
B

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A Very Delayed Post

I have to apologize to ya’ll. We took our Campbell Christmas Vacation as planned, leaving here on December 26th. While the vacation was a joy, I became very ill, and was hospitalized on our return. That will be the subject of my next post, as I am still sorting out details of the whole vacation/illness. So this will be a quick post with some pictures of the vacation aspect.

The plan was to leave here on the morning of the 26th, and we actually made it work. We piled Wifey, Son-The-Younger, both granddaughters and myself into the car and headed north. Our destination was Maggie Valley, NC. We rented a larger cabin than the one Wifey and I rented two years ago for a five night stay. The weather was good, and for once, traffic not an issue at all. We all got our suitcases unpacked and stuff put away in our rooms and away we went!

The cabin’s living room.

Friday was Son-The-Younger’s birthday and we promised him we would take him the Sierra Nevada Brewery just outside of Asheville, NC. Wifey and I visited the brewery and took the tour two years ago. Son-The-Younger was looking forward to this trip. We took the Blue Ridge Parkway over the mountains to Asheville. We stopped at many of the scenic overlooks and the girls took many pictures.

We arrived at the Brewery just in time for our scheduled tour (you have to make reservations), and Wifey and the girls went to “The Back Porch”, an open area that has food, a garden and even – get this – beer! Although there wasn’t any live music that day, they do have an outdoor stage, as well as an indoor area in case of bad weather. And is very dog friendly.

We drove home and had a great BBQ dinner, which was another “requirement” for this trip.

Saturday was a planned “quiet” day. In the morning we took the girls to do some “gem” mining. Then Son-The-Younger and I visited Elevated Mountain Distillery, while Wifey took the girls to a little store we enjoyed on our last visit.

It was a good thing that we didn’t have much planned for Saturday. I woke up about 3AM with fever and chills. So after the short morning excursions, I went back to bed for the afternoon. I think I sweated through my clothes twice that afternoon. The rest of the family went tubing (man made snow, sadly) while I basically sweated every ounce of liquid out of my body. Son-The-Younger tried to get a fire going in one of the outside fire pits, but it was rained out.

I awoke Sunday morning feeling better, but not great. I knew I was still fighting whatever bug I had picked up, I just didn’t realize how badly I was losing that fight.

But not giving up, we again went over the mountains, but this time from Cherokee, NC to Gatlinburg, TN. We went right through the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, and we hadn’t even gone half a mile into the park when we came across a herd of Elk. The girls were so happy.

We made it to Gatlinburg with no issues. We even found a Mexican restaurant that Wifey and I had tried almost 20 years ago! And it was right next to the Ripley’s Aquarium which was our first scheduled stop (after tacos of course). Then the real fun began.

The plan all along was to get me a wheelchair while at the aquarium. My legs were still heavily impacted by the back injury, so I figured I would not be able to walk the entire distance required. Turns out I couldn’t even make it into the aquarium!

Going up the steps to get to the wheelchair I passed out. I was so lucky that there was a guy right behind me who saw it coming, probably before I realized what was happening. He was a strong enough guy that he grabbed me and set me down so I only ended up with was a scrape on one knee where it hit the pillar I has holding on to. Luckily it passed somewhat quickly and by the time the kids met us with the wheelchair I was coherent, and some of my strength returned. It was nice have everyone push my wheelchair so I could see the major parts of the aquarium, and there were plenty of places that I could be parked while everyone else went to see something that would have been a tight fit. We got in a few other attractions that afternoon, then head back to our cabin in Maggie Valley.

I will leave the health issues for the next post. I knew I was sick, but I really didn’t feel any worse or better for the rest of the trip.

Monday found us in Cherokee, NC. I really didn’t expect the girls to enjoy the museum as much as they did. They were asking questions about the displays and had good comments when their questions were answered. it’s really nice to see them getting inquisitive about things that aren’t covered very well in school. The Cherokee people have an absolutely beautiful creation story. Personally, I find it every bit as relevant as any other creation story. It is no more, nor any less credible the one most of us have been force feed all these years.

Outside of the museum in Cherokee.

Every time I visit a museum of this sort, I am saddened beyond words how native peoples have been treated by we white people. On every continent we have hurt if not straight out destroyed entire cultures. They had a veteran’s display in the museum. It told of a Cherokee medical doctor that was on a landing craft on D-Day. I didn’t know they had any doctors on the landing craft. But it makes me wonder were there any “white” doctors on any other landing craft? Then there was a display of Cherokee Medal of Honor Recipient. I’m sorry I don’t have names for these, and the other Cherokee’s enshrined in this part of the museum. I was so overcome, and still am, with emotion I had to leave the area and just sit down in the lobby. Knowing that chances are that these gentlemen had already been forcibly removed from their ancestral homes to the squalid desperation of a reservation, but still answered the call to serve this nation (not the Cherokee Nation, but the “white man nation”) amazes me. Sadly, most of the town of Cherokee was closed for the season, so shopping was limited.

However, Son-The-Younger conquered the elements and got the fire pit going. I am told the s’mores were wonderful!

The next morning we loaded everything back up in the car and headed home. We only stopped long enough to visit with Lil-Big-Sis at lunch. There are so many more stories to tell of this trip, but I just don’t have the energy to keep this going, nor a voice to dictate to Wifey, so dear reader this will have to suffice.

But I leave you with What’s Stuck In Wifey’s Head this morning. Enjoy!

Peace,
B

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It’s Samhain Again!

Or for the new world folks, Halloween.

Once again, I will be my usual psychotic self for Halloween. I have saved a ton of money this way. I don’t have to buy a costume. Let’s face it, psychotic folks looks just like ordinary folks. We blend it quite easily. That is, until someone hits that trigger button. Then all bets are off!

Instead I’ll post some pictures from the past years.

This is from 1983. That’s son-the-elder that Wifey is holding. I bet if I quit shaving my beard would be the grey now!
Son-the-elder, 1986.

I can’t seem to find any pictures of son-the-younger in costume. But I do have his daughters all Halloweened up.

But we will always do a Jack O’Lantern.

Son-the-younger and his wee bonnie lasses did the carving this year.

Even the computers are getting into the act!

How are you celebrating the day this year?

(Previous Samhain posts are here, here, and here.)

Peace,
B

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