Work and Wind

Weather update: 6 degrees Celsius (about 43 degrees Fahrenheit); heavy showers and 50mph winds.

Yes, that was necessary.....why d'ya ask?!

This morning began with a site meeting.

All busy days must begin with a meeting.

Brother-in-law arrived with his tractor and spinner - a potato digger - to lift the potatoes, but the result of the meeting was that the ground was too wet to use the tractor.

The potatoes will have to be lifted by hand.

But before that's done, some sheep have to be sorted. A fank was called for. 

The boys walk in to the machair. That Big Brother has no consideration - he went off in the pick-up, and left my guys to walk.

I followed on. Imagine....me walking in this weather.

Okay, I was in the car. I had a camera to protect from the elements. Otherwise, I may have been walking.... Or maybe not.

These guys (and dolls) - no specifics here - are on the machair. Tell me: aren't they adorable. 

This little guy/doll makes me want to have more kids of my own. 

Or maybe he makes me think of rib-eye steaks. 

Either way, he makes me drool.

The weather looks almost reasonable here, doesn't it. 
Who says the camera never lies?

Another site meeting is called for.

The sea is rough...

The Butt almost looks like it's going under.

They're going to gather the sheep over to the right of this photo and take them into the fank, which is to the fore in the photo.

And here are the sheep in the fank. There are sheep here belonging to four men in the village, including Big Brother.

Then it rained - again.

It was lashing down.

Notice the only one who stayed with the Big Brother.

My wee guy! My little pet, out there in the pouring rain, in the freezing temperatures, and the Force 6 gale. My wee boy!

Okay, so it wasn't exactly freezing, but it wasn't far off.

Then the sun came out and I ventured out of the car. 

I know, I'm so brave.

Here are some of big Brother's sheep, forming an orderly queue to .... to.... wait, I'll have to ask.

What are these sheep forming an orderly queue for?

I'll ask Big Brother when he comes in later.

Me: What were you doing with the sheep in the fank today?

Big Brother: I was dozing them, and drenching them.

Pause: Drenching? Does the rain not do that?

Obligatory roll of eyes. Will I ever learn?

And the dozing?

Big Brother: Dozing them to prevent fluke infestation.

Eeeeewww. Wish I hadn't asked

Big Brother: They were also getting vitamins and trace elements.


BB: Yep.

Aaaahh. Mr Wayne is coming their way next week. They want to be in tip-top condition. I understand. 

Big Brother: It makes them more fertile.

Pffft. One look at Mr Wayne at they'll be as fertile as can be.

Take it from me. They'll be dancing. 

Then this came out.

If I'd had a wide-angled lens, I could have caught the whole bow in one photo.

I think I'll write a letter: Dear Santa, I've been a good girl.....

You'll also have to excuse the dirty mark on my lens.

Anyway, here's the result of the boys' hard work today
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day an night shall not cease. Gen 8:22

P.S. Big Brother has just viewed this post and exclaimed at the photo of the 'orderly queue': NONE of my sheep are in that photo. C'mon woman, surely you know by now! Your readers 'll be thinking I have these sheep. Make sure you tell them.

I now have. Just for the record. None of the sheep in that photo were his. Obviously.

Reformation Day

How we take for granted the freedoms we now possess.

How little we remember that here, in this very country, men were, at one time, tied up and burned at the stake.

And how great was the impact the Reformers had on life in Scotland, in the UK as a whole, and across the Atlantic.

Great Britain would never have been 'Great' Britain had it not been for the sacrifice of men like William Tyndale and John Wycliffe.

And how different the USA might have been from the country it became, had it not been for such men, and the effects of their sacrifice.

Here's our cast! We have John Knox, Patrick Hamilton, Scottish soldiers, Archbishop Beaton, some peasants and a priest.

Here is Patrick Hamilton preaching.

He was arrested as a heretic and burnt at the stake.

As was George Wishart...
...whose hands were tied before he was burned at the stake.

Before he was placed in the flame, he said, "The grim fire I fear not, for I know that my soul shall surely sup with my Saviour this night".

The wicked Queen Regent, Mary of Guise, seen here with her daughter, Mary Queen of Scots
She was determined to see Scotland remain under the power of Rome.

Praise God, He had other plans for our nation.

Many, many thanks to our friend, Mary, for organising the get-together; for setting the scenes; for teaching us all so many lessons from history which we'd either forgotten or never learned; and for providing yummies for mums and kids alike.


Death in Afghanistan; Burial in Lewis

Many of you will know of, and have read of, Linda Norgrove, the British Aid Worker, who died in Afghanistan recently.

Her family are not from this island, but they have lived here for many years, and Linda herself spent some years at school with my younger sister. 

Her funeral was held this week in Uig, where her parents have lived for the past number of years. 

A 'Lewis funeral' is worth a post on its own, and someday I will talk about it here.

But for now, you can read about Linda's funeral here.

And for now, we simply express our sadness at the death of this young lady.


Of Swords and Knights....and Mum's Old Age

Calum: Mum, when you were young, did everyone have swords?

Mum: Nooooo.

Calum: Well, did anyone have swords?

Mum: Nooooo.

Calum: Well, did you see swords when you were young?

Girls: Calum! What age do you think Mum is?

Calum: Well, did people have sword fights?

Mum (thinking a change of tack was called for): Oh yes. Dad was actually a knight.

Calum: Really?! Wow!

Mum: Yes, I was the prize for his final joust.

Girls: He had the choice of a cuddly teddy, or.....or....Mum! 

Calum: And he chose you? Wow.


Calum: Was he really a knight?

Here's the Builder in a previous life.

Can't you see why I fell in love with him? 

No need to choke on your tea, folks.

Sewing for Battle

We're having a gathering of home schoolers this week for Reformation Day.

The wee guy is playing a 16th Century Scottish soldier, so an outfit was needed.

Kilt and Plaid.

No fancy tartans. Just something that looked vaguely brown and vaguely rough.

I went to the charity shop and bought this.

Then I called for Pam's help.

You see, I have the imagination of a sparrow. Not that I know how imaginative a sparrow is. Maybe they're very imaginative. If they are, then I don't have the imagination of a sparrow.

Maybe I have the imagination of a rhinoceros. They don't seem too imaginative.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yes, not possessing much of an imagination, nor much in the way of sewing skills, I needed help.

Pam didn't come.

Yes I know she's in Colorado, and yes, I know I'm in Scotland, but she could have made the effort.

I mean, c'mon. It's a small world nowadays, isn't it?

So.....Ha! - so!....get it?....sew?!

Ahem - moving quickly on. Noone ever gets my humour. I have no idea why.

No matter, my wee guy still loves me.

And here he is with his 16th century kilt.


Or cute??


The Builder and the Phone

The Builder answered the phone tonight. Twice.

Let me repeat: he answered the phone. Himself. All by himself. And then he spoke to the callers.

He's now in therapy, and will be for weeks.

If you were thinking of phoning the house to speak to him in the foreseeable future.....forget it. It'll be a l-o-n-g time before he answers the phone again.

You see, he's a Builder. Not a talker.

I do the talking.

Just thought you'd all like to know. I'm a blogger now, so I blog about these things. 

Such is life.

Remember, Remember the 5th of November...

Soon it will be Bonfire Night.

The boys have been collecting wood for the bonfire for the past few weeks, and so the outside of our house looks kind of untidy.

Uuuuh...what d'ya mean, 'Is this any worse than usual?'

'I'll have you know..... Well, ok - not much.'

Just in case you're worrying, the bonfire pile is not in situ.

We have it considerable further from the house. Phew!

We have a Bonfire every year, on the Saturday closest to November 5th.

Updates as they occur...


Emigrants from Lewis

Our home looks out onto the Atlantic. We have many ships passing here going to Canada, the USA and to South America, as well as to many other parts of the world, as I blogged about here.

Sometimes when I look out onto the Atlantic and think of the hundreds of islanders who left our shores for better prospects in the US and Canada, I end up in tears. Yes, I know, my tears can be ridiculously easy to set off, but I reckon this warrants a bit of emotion.

Our local historical society, Comann Eachdraidh Nis (Ness Historical Society) has collated many accounts of local men and women to headed west early in the 20th Century.

The following account comes from their website, and the man telling his story (Donald MacLeod) was my mother's first cousin's brother-in-law. 

Did you get that? Let me write it slowly: he. was. my. mother's. first. cousin's. brother-in-law.

If you have any difficulty with that, you clearly aren't from the islands. We are used to people talking about  their uncle's first cousin's nephew's third cousin twice removed. Easy.

Here's the story as it's told on the CEN website.

Emigration from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland during the 19th and 20th centuries - whether through poverty and the search for new opportunities, or the systematic eviction of families by ruthless landlords - has had a tremendous impact on the history, and indeed future, of Scotland and the countries the emigrants settled in.  Just a few of the stories and sentiments of those who left the Hebrides during those turbulent times are offered below.

SS Metagama, which sailed from Stornoway to Canada in 1920

The Story of a Ness ExileThe late Donald Macleod, Michigan, U.S.A. ("Dòmhnall Tullag", formerly from Knockaird, Ness) recounts his departure for Canada aboard the SS Metagama in the Spring of 1923,
"I grew up during World War I. I was going to school in the early part of the War, but the emphasis was not on education but on the military and looking forward to the time when we would be eighteen and join up. The War ended before we came of age and there was no further need for the military. The Militia was discontinued and the Naval Reserve would not accept recruits for a long time. It was through those channels that most Lewismen went to the mainland for the first time and, after serving their time, they were in a better position to join the labour force.   The post-war generation did not have this outlet. British industry had not yet recovered from the effect of the War, and any openings were reserved for the ex-servicemen. For us, emigration was inevitable. Canada was the first to open the door in a way we could afford. We had little choice."I was twenty-one years old when I went on board the S.S. Metagama, anchored outside Stornoway Bay on the 23rd of April 1923 - a day that always remains fresh in my memory. Were we homesick? A stronger word would be more suitable! It was the kind of homesickness you could feel. A boy told me he was so blind with his tears that he could not see. We sailed north, and around the Butt of Lewis. There was deep silence among the three hundred Lewismen on board as our beloved Island faded in the distance with those whom we loved standing on its shores. For many, it was a last glimpse.  Our destination was Toronto; there we parted. Life on the Canadian farm was quiet and simple. In many ways it was much like our own: there was no crime; Sabbath was kept; it was against the law to work on Sunday; shops were closed; many went to Church; no professional sport was allowed on Sunday (Sunday's law has since changed); no discrimination; food was plentiful. I was used to work, but it was work from morn’ till dusk and wages were low. It was work, eat and sleep. Soon we drifted away when other work became available. We were lonely and homesick. Two of us found work with a fishing company but this was seasonal as the lakes freeze in the winter. One Sunday we had nowhere to go but to sit on the bank of Lake Eyrie looking into space, the seashore at Knockaird passing in review. I thought singing a Gaelic Psalm would be in order. Psalm 137: "Aig struthaibh coimheach Bhabiloin shuidh sinn gu brònach bochd" etc. It was not long before the mournful wail of my friend rose above the highest note.
"In time, however, I began to like Canada. I learned a new skill, driving a car. At the fishery, some trucking was involved, taking fish to market. Driving a truck was a step forward from the horse and cart, and I felt very important driving a load of fish to market. My boss loaned me an old car he wasn't using. I drove this car in my spare time, including running errands for him. I was beginning to fit in with the American way of life. I remained two years with this company.  
In the meantime, large numbers of fresh immigrants from Lewis began arriving in Detroit, both men and women, and the desire to meet with them grew very strong. When I had time off, I visited Detroit and met some of my old friends. Work was plentiful, with higher wages than in Canada. I decided to enter the United States and applied for permanent residence. When that was granted, I found employment with General Motors Corporation. There I enrolled in a trade school two evenings a week. Soon I bought my first car. I was very happy, and the desire to return to my homeland grew less and less.   
RIGHT: Relatives and friends pack the quayside at Stornoway as the Metagama departs
"The Depression in the 1930s interrupted my plans. The car industry closed and we had to find work elsewhere. At this time, many returned to the homeland. There was a Niseach superintendent (John Thomson from Habost) with a construction company in New York and I was advised to go there. I met him, and he put me to work at once. There were casualties on the job and part of my work was to carry away the injured and dead. Seeing a man getting killed was something new for me and made me sick. Some advised me to take whisky, but that only made me feel worse. I don't think I would have made a good soldier.  The following year, conditions improved and I returned to Detroit. I joined the auto industry with another company. It was time now to settle down. I was married in 1935 to Annie Murray and the first of our three children was born the following year.
"The Great Depression was not over and work was scarce, but that only brought us closer together. There was a large Lewis colony there and we had taken root. We were no longer from Ness or Point etc., but we were as one village, with one common bond. Fate brought us here, and we were different. When one found work he would at once recommend a fellow Lewisman for the first opening. This worked so well both on land and sea that there was very little unemployment among us. We blended in very well with the American worker and made very close friends. But socially, we kept our Lewis identity. Nearly all of us married Lewis girls. We now had our own home, Ceilidh was the evening pastime, with Gaelic songs being sung and stories told. The dessert was always a cup of tea and scones. If we had differences among ourselves, pity the outsider who would interfere.
"Many of the Lewismen held responsible jobs both on land and sea. Ness was well represented among the captains and officers who served on the Great Lakes and on salt water, and also among those who studied for the ministry and served as pastors both in Canada and the United States.  At this time, ministers from Lewis were coming to Canada for short visits and some of them came to Detroit and held Gaelic services. Those services were well attended. The singing of the Gaelic Psalms and precenting the line was sweet music to us, and many eyes could be seen wet with tears. This was the beginning of the Presbyterian Free Church in Detroit, where we have worshipped since 1952. Our first pastor was the Rev. Murdo MacRitchie, who served the congregation for fourteen years and was then transferred to the Stornoway congregation.
"As I was growing older, the desire to see my native Island was also growing and the time came when I had to go. In August 1957 I boarded a plane in Detroit, and in nine hours I was in Prestwick. Thirty-four years had passed and what a change! It took eleven days to cross the Atlantic when I came over in 1923.  I had also changed. I was coming back an alien but to me, I was coming home. My cousin in Grangemouth met me in Glasgow, but I did not recognise her, as I did not recognise much of the landscape I remembered. I spent a few days in Glasgow, Grangemouth and Edinburgh and then proceeded to Stornoway. Ness had changed. Hardly any of the old houses remained and many of the old friends were no more. The old hearth was gone where we sat in a circle around the open fire, telling and listening to our favourite stories. But the seashore was the same, untouched by the hands of man. Its cool breezes were swirling around my favourite rocks, working in unison with the sound of the waves, dashing against the familiar cliffs with the same warm touch as if saying, "Welcome home!" My reply was "Thank you, but I was here many times in my dreams."
"The days of old to mind I called, and oft did think upon the times and ages that are part full many years agone." Psalm 77.
"I spent two happy months with my father and sisters, seeing old friends and making new ones, and I visited many parts of the Island. I was delighted to meet those I knew in America who had returned to settle in Lewis and it was like meeting old friends from home.But my holiday passed too quickly and, again, it was time to part. The tears flowed as I said goodbye to my aged father, knowing we would not meet again in this world. (He passed away the following year). I was again homesick leaving, but this time it was different than that day in April of 1923. I was eager to get back to my own family. My roots were now in America.
"When I retired I returned once again to Ness. In 1969 Annie and I went home together. My wife is from Skigersta. This time I rented a car and saw more of the island. I enjoyed driving to Stornoway. Time had again taken its toll; nearly all of the old friends were gone. We were home about two months. The weather was cold and damp, but the warm welcome we always got made up for it.
"I am now in my declining years but I am healthy and active in church affairs and gardening. Our son's home is twenty miles from our apartment in the city. It is out in the country on five acres of land, where I spend the warm days of summer in the solitude of the country, just the way I started life so many, many miles away - growing potatoes and vegetables.  I didn't acquire wealth, but we are comfortable and were never in need. God was good to us. I had wealth other than money; my Christian upbringing and Lewis heritage was a stronghold in the day of trouble and a deterrent against the evil we were exposed to."

My Mum's aunt, for whom she's named, left on the SS Marloch in 1923. She died of TB, in a hospital in British Columbia, not long after she arrived in Canada. In another post, I'll tell a wee story about her, a couple in our church and an amazing meeting in Stanley Park, Vancouver.


Scottish Thistle

Just in case you you didn't realise we were in Scotland, I took these photos in our potato plot this morning.

Sunshine on a rainy day
Looking out to sea, it was clear the sunshine wasn't here to stay.

Sure enough, five minutes later, we had a hail shower.

Mr John Wayne

I took a couple of photos of John Wayne, aptly named by Amber in a previous post, this morning.

Mr Wayne to you, guys. And to me.

I am seriously impressed with this guy.

Before I took the camera out, he was standing with all his subjects around him.

King Wayne and his subjects
His subjects are a bit skitterish, but not Mr Wayne.

He stands proud.

As some of the others...by the way, in case you were all wanting to know - after all, I know your Saturday wouldn't be complete without knowing for sure... the 'subjects' are ram lambs. Tups, so called.

I know this to be true cos I asked Big Brother. You know how I'm liable get these things wrong.

The wee guys aspire to being just like Mr Wayne one day.

Mr Wayne didn't seem to mind how close I got.

I am so impressed.

I'll tell you, if I was a sheep, I wouldn't be happy with any of the other rams that 'll be, er, that 'll be... let loose in the next couple of months. I'd tell the others to clear off. 'I've seen Mr Wayne, and I'm settling for nothing less'.

He's gonna be one busy guy.
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