Sunday, November 29, 2009

Anger and its Relationship to Cancer

The relationship between cancer and emotional states is somewhat unclear. It may be that anger, as a prime contributor to stress, is either a cause of cancer or, through the damage it does to the immune system, a prime contributor to its rate of growth and spread.

Or perhaps its being "nice" that's the prime contributor to the growth and spread of cancer and venting anger may be the force that contributes to its cure.

Should victims of cancer put on their game face and go to war against the disease, raging against the ravages of cruel fate, or should they relax into a positive frame of mind and just let the stress go?

Let's look at some of the latest research.

"Extremely low anger scores have been noted in numerous studies of patients with cancer. Such low scores suggest suppression, repression, or restraint of anger. There is evidence to show that suppressed anger can be a precursor to the development of cancer, and also a factor in its progression after diagnosis. Some studies indicate that it may be beneficial for patients to mobilize anger to battle their cancer. However, there is a paucity of research on the outcomes of various anger interventions. Longitudinal studies that repeatedly measure anger and other moods over the disease trajectory are needed...."
--Thomas SP, Groer M, Davis M, Droppleman P, Mozingo J, Pierce M.
College of Nursing, University of Tennessee

"Scientists and researchers have long argued about whether repressed anger predisposes women to breast cancer, and the controversy will probably continue for some time. About 20 years ago, several studies determined that women who have breast cancer and assert themselves live longer and have a better prognosis than women who do not have that "fighting spirit." A more recent study contradicts this finding, but does support and give weight to another conclusion: Women with breast cancer who feel helpless and hopeless do significantly worse than those who have a sense of power to help themselves."

"Studies have been conducted in which a group of happy individuals and a group of angry individuals were exposed to a cold virus. The results showed that the angry people got sick while they happy people stayed healthy...(However) It doesn’t matter if you maintain the healthiest diet in the world, exercise regularly and do everything else possible to stay healthy: bottling up your anger suppresses your immune system and makes you much more susceptible to cancer."
--Dr. Laurence Magne

"Extracts from Patrick Swayze's autobiography have revealed the actor felt 'anger, bitterness and despair' when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Patrick Swayze sank into a state of 'anger, bitterness and despair' when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer."

"Results suggest that anger control and negative affect are not associated with breast cancer, melanoma, or total cancer risk, although they may have a small role in risk of prostate, colorectal, and lung cancer. Although more research is needed to confirm these latter associations, the results suggest that if affective states are associated with cancer development, the association may differ for different cancers and argue against the use of total cancer as an outcome measure for studies in this area."
--Victoria M. White, Dallas R. English, Hamish Coates, Magdalen Legerlund, Ron Borland, Graham G. Giles

"Studies have indicated that stress can affect tumor growth and spread, but the precise biological mechanisms underlying these effects are not well understood. Scientists have suggested that the effects of stress on the immune system may in turn affect the growth of some tumors (7). However, recent research using animal models indicates that the body’s release of stress hormones can affect cancer cell functions directly (8).

"A review of studies that evaluated psychological factors and outcome in cancer patients suggests an association between certain psychological factors, such as feeling helpless or suppressing negative emotions, and the growth or spread of cancer, although this relationship was not consistently seen in all studies (3). In general, stronger relationships have been found between psychological factors and cancer growth and spread than between psychological factors and cancer development..."
--National Institute of Health

"“Stress doesn’t give you cancer, but it is a risk factor like genetic differences, like environmental carcinogens. There are a whole bunch of risk factors. Not everybody that smokes tobacco gets lung cancer.”
--David Spiegel, associate chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.

My own belief (in the absence of more consistent scientific evidence) is that being in a state of anger, is a contributor to the growth and spread of cancer. By "state of anger" I mean someone whose prime emotional response to life is negative and belligerent. Someone who has trapped anger inside them.

It is the opposite of someone who is occasionally angered by life's circumstances, or is just periodically in a bad mood (who me?)and vents.

But, at the moment this is just a hunch.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Tail Of Two Philosophies

No, I spelled "Tail" correctly in the title. I'm being cute because this is a story about the Toronto Humane Society and the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA). Who deal mainly with cats and dogs. Who have tails.

And this is my last opportunity to inject a little cuteness into this story.

The major news story in Toronto today concerns a police raid on the Toronto Humane Society and the arrest of all its senior staff members along with its entire board of directors on a charge of animal cruelty.

Police were acting on a tip supplied by the Ontario SPCA who have long been at odds with the philosophy of care that is the foundation of the Toronto Society's practice.

The Toronto Humane Society is an independent, non-profit animal adoption centre and hospital not funded by the government and relies solely on donations and volunteers. The organization prides itself as non-euthanasia and provides 24/7 care for the animals rescued.

The key here is the policy of "non-euthanasia". Except in extreme cases of animal distress, the Toronto Society believes in allowing sick animals to die a natural death. The Ontario SPCA finds this practice a form of animal cruelty enacted for fund raising purposes.

The police who conducted the raid on the Toronto Humane Society facility were shocked by the number of animals they found in extreme distress. Animals who obviously suffered from acts of cruelty and neglect. Four of the 1100 animals rescued from the Toronto facility have now been euthanized by the Ontario SPCA.

The Director of the Toronto Humane Society, as he was being arrested, told reporters, "Of course police found mistreated animals and extremely ill animals in our facility. We are an animal rescue facility and a hospital. If police were to search any human hospital in the city they would find examples of extremely ill and abused people. Would they arrest the doctors and staff and charge them with cruelty?"

The question is, at what point does a policy of non-euthansia of animals become a form of cruelty? Does it ever?

What do you think?

You can find more details about the story HERE

Friday, November 27, 2009

Friday My Town Shootout--Smiles and Faces

Linda and I are continuing to combine our efforts and jointly host a single page for our Shootouts on Friday.

Our joint contribution will continue at least until I'm through this new round of chemotherapy (which was to end at Christmas but now is extended until February).

To see our contribution this week please CLICK HERE

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving America

Today my friends in the United States begin a unique process. They gather together with family and friends to give thanks, over a delicious feast, for the bounty that has come their way in the past year. They give thanks for the difficulties they have over come, they give thanks for the privilege of having each other in their lives.

Many will travel thousands of miles to gather together with their families for today's meal. In shelters for the homeless, in shelters for battered women, in hospitals and in workplaces, in church basements and in the finest restaurants, on American Naval ships and Army Barracks around the world, in ocean depths and on board the International Space Station, in jails and in soup kitchens and in family homes across the nation, food will be shared and thanks will be given.

To all the blogging friends I have come to know and love, who have reached out to Linda and I over the past year, as we have faced our own difficulties with as much courage and good humor as we could muster, I extend my thanks and my wishes for a wonderful day today and for the coming year ahead.

You are all exceptional people. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lindsay and the Strange Black Monolith

Once Upon A Time...

There was a little black nosed, waggy-tailed dog named Lindsay

Who had a father who vanished into a strange black Monolith.

He had been an attentive father who played with her, fed her and took her for long runs in the forest.

Then, one day, the mail man delivered a Kindle and Lindsay's father disappeared into it. Stared at it with rapt attention for hours on end.

Until one day he put it down and went out to the store. So Lindsay, being an inquisitive little black nosed waggy-tailed dog, decided to investigate.

But the Kindle was a great disappointment. It had no smell. It had no taste. It couldn't be eaten.

Well, of course it could be chewed, but it just wasn't food.

And her dad tended to get a little annoyed when she chewed things that were not food.

Puzzled, Lindsay couldn't understand the fascination the small black Monolith held for her father.

But then he was odd in other ways too.

So she went to her comfortable place behind his chair and went to sleep.

He would outgrow his fascination soon enough. She sighed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What I learned Through Meditating

Not long before we were married Linda once asked me--

"Do you have to plan everything out?"

And I said--

"Me? I don't plan everything out.'

"Well," said Linda. "You you seem to."

Then, one weekend after we had been married for ten years, I said to Linda--

"Would you like to go for a drive in the country?"

"Oh, I'd love that," said Linda

"Where you like to go?" I asked her.

"Instead of planning ahead of time," said Linda. "Couldn't we just be spontaneous for once, just head out and see where we wind up?"

I said, "I don't need to plan everything. I can be spontaneous."

"Hummm?," said Linda.

One day, after we'd been married for twenty years, I asked Linda--

"What are you making for dinner tonight?"

"Well, we haven't even had breakfast yet, I thought I'd wait until evening to decide."


She smiled, "You always have to have everything planned out ahead of time don't you?"

"No. No, I can wait."

Last week I turned to Linda and wondered, "Is there anything special you'd like to do for our fortieth Wedding Anniversary?"

"That isn't until next May," said Linda, looking up from her laptop. "Isn't it a little early to be planning that yet?"

"Well, I was just wondering."

"No you were planning.' She laughed, "That's just you. Everything has to be planned out well ahead of time."

"Of course not. I'm very spontaneous. I certainly don't have to have everything all planned out for me."

Linda smiled.

Yesterday, after meditating, I said to Linda, "You know how I've been meditating for the last three months?"

"Yes," she said, "I do."

"And you know how thoughts distract everyone who tries to meditate?"


"Some people are distracted by worry and some by fear and some by anger...."


"Well, those thoughts don't distract me. I get distracted by thinking things like, 'I have to remember to buy light bulbs next time I'm at the store.' or 'I need to decide what to write about next time I blog.' or 'I better remember to bring out the snow shovels from the shed before it starts to snow.'"


"Do you see what I'm doing."


"Planning. My mind is busy planning things. Who would ever have thought someone as spontaneous as I am would have a brain that was busy planning things all the time? It's amazing what you learn about yourself when you meditate."

Linda smiled warmly, "It certainly is," she agreed

Images courtesy of Photobucket

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Comfort Of Hair Loss

This time around,
The Taxol Fact Sheet said,
You will loose your hair,
All of it.

And so I saw the barber,
And I said to him,
I have cancer,
Please shave my head.

He did,
And I had chemo,
And I waited for the rest of my hair
To fall out.

But it didn't,
And I thought,
To myself.

If it can't defeat a hair follicle,
What chance does it have,

Then one day Linda said,
"You know you have
no eyebrows

"And the hair on your head,
Hasn't grown back,
Any of it."

I ran to the mirror,
And it was true,
And more,
And I was comforted.

Secretly in my mind.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Home Town Shoot Out

Linda and I are continuing to combine our efforts and jointly host a single page for our Shootouts on Friday.

At least until I'm through this new round of chemotherapy (read Christmas). In fact I was so exhausted from my chemo yesterday that I warned our shootout would be delayed. But Linda wasn't as tired and so our post is up and on time. Teamwork!

To see our contribution this week please CLICK HERE

If you are wondering what you are about to see, here's a clue---

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Some Good News For Once

I am back in the Chemotherapy Daycare Clinic again today, but only got here through some good news.

I'm not used to good news. Every test conducted since I first began treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital has incrementally shown my condition worsening

Its enough to put you off tests all together.

But on Tuesday I was back at the hospital for some blood work to see the impact my first experience with Taxol was having on various organs and especially on my immune system.

Linda and I had been at the hospital for eight oclock for more blood work. And by ten thirty we had been waiting in the treatment room for about fifteen minutes before the oncologist arrived with the results.

For once it seemed I was fine. The oncologist was surprised and delighted, showing us the print out with amazement.

"Your immune system is perfectly normal!" she exclaimed. "Just look at these readings. Perfectly normal, despite all the punishment Taxol should be inflicting on it."

That was the good news. All the effort we had put into changing our diet, my MEDS program, the supplements I was taking, it had all paid off.

"So we can go ahead with the chemo on Thursday as planned," the Oncologist told me. "In fact you are doing so well, I'm adding additional cycles of chemo to your schedule. And I'm giving you the H1N1 shot. Hold still."

"What? Ow!"

"There, your arm may hurt for a day or two."


"It will take ten days before you're fully resistant to H1N1, but with such good immune readings there is no reason to isolate yourself any more. I mean you need to take reasonable precautions. Don't use public transportation if you can help it. Don't visit with people who have contagious diseases. But otherwise get out and enjoy life between Chemo treatments."

So, good news. A step in the right direction.

But the important news will come in mid December when they repeat the CT scan to see what effect this cycle of chemo is having on my various cancer sites.

That's new news I'm waiting for.

As I lie here today with Taxol slowing dripping into my veins, my shoulder hurting from the H1N1 shot.

My reward for keeping my immune system healthy.


Linda, my brother John and myself are back from our day of chemo. The ride there and back was lengthened by the day's pouring rain and slowed traffic.

I am feeling exhausted after 5 hours of chemo and will be unable to respond to your kind and very supportive comments.

I am especially sorry to have missed Totalfeckineejit's party today. I bet it was great!

Knowing I will be feeling stronger and more alert tomorrow, I will attempt to visit all your sites to see what I've been missing.

Linda and I will also be a little late getting our Friday Shootout Posted.

Sorry about that.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Lindsay Finds A Mystery

The Blair Witch weather of the previous month moved on to frighten other communities while the sun chased away the lingering dark where monsters might hide.

Suggesting there was no longer anything to fear in the long reaching shadows of the trees.

So I grabbed the camera and headed out into the deep forests that line the massive valley of the Rouge River, much to Lindsay's amazed delight.

I set up the camera and filmed us walking and running through the largest Urban Carolinian Park in the country. Lindsay pranced along through the deep carpet of fallen leaves, splashed through the cold waters of the eastern tributary of the Rouge River, and performed like a star. Or just a normal dog, whichever description seems to fit.

Then she stopped, her attention captured by a sound far above my range of hearing and suddenly took off up a nearby slope, vanishing deep into the enclosing forest.

I called her back but got no response.


I called again.

Lindsay is usually very responsive.

But it was as if the forest had swallowed her whole.

Linda had been apprehensive about our going for a walk through the Rouge Valley after a television news report the previous night warned about a pack of wolf/coyote hybrids loose in the park. I was less concerned because the valley is vast, a good twenty kilometres in length. Besides, most animals rest during the afternoon.

And hunt in the dark.

Still, Lindsay and I had had one encounter with a coyote some months back and one was more than enough.

So I grabbed the camera and headed off into the woods after her.

The following video explores what we found.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hoist On My Own Petard

One of the intrinsic pleasures of taking Lindsay for a run along the top of the Scarborough Bluffs, is the sense of escape.

Within a very short distance from my home I can find an area still untouched by human hand. Even though we live in a City of over 3,000,000 people, when we are running through the meadow at the top of the bluffs, we are alone and surrounded only by nature.

Not a sign of civilization is in sight.

Until now.

It is ugly and it sits immediately off the shoreline of the Scarborough Bluffs.

Where it will reside for the next two years.

Despite strong opposition from a significant and vocal majority of West Hill and Guildwood Village Residents.

It s a wind anemometer, and if the wind blows significantly, it is the forerunner of a line of Wind Turbines destined to run from the Leslie Street spit all along the Scarborough shoreline.

Toronto Hydro claims that anemometers pose no health threats. Our concerns, they say, were addressed in the studies done for the Ministry of Natural Resources. If there were any side effects the project would have been declined.

Opponents however, believe Toronto Hydro is pursuing a “vanity project.”

Opponents to the plan state they don’t want more money to be spent on the anemometer when they totally reject turbines in Lake Ontario,.

Toronto Hydro reminds West Hill the device is only for wind energy research and there’s no current plan to propose a wind farm. Somewhat disingenuously claiming that they are not proposing to build windmills, only collect data.

The wind data will be collected for two years, then other factors will be studied, such as costs for construction and electricity grid connections, before a decision will be made concerning the construction of the Wind Farm project.

The platform is located 1.2 kilometres off the bluffs and is visible all along the Scarborough shoreline from any position on the top of the bluffs. If wind results and other factors prove satisfactory, the 60-turbine wind farm could stretch from Ajax to the Leslie Street Spit.

Residents, however, will continue to oppose the project with more protests and educational campaigns.

The irony for me is that I support the development of alternative fuel sources. I want the single remaining coal generated electric plant in Ontario to close. I oppose the vast costs involved in building new Nuclear facilities.

I support solar and wind power generation.

But it will cost me the contact with nature I love.

I will loose one of the very things I love most about my runs with Lindsay.

Instead of running through nature, I will be running through an electric generation plant.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Visit To The Cham Shan Buddhist Temple

In preparation for our Friday Shoot Out assignment, on places of worship, Linda and I toured some of the more architecturally interesting (and therefore photographically interesting) spiritual centres in Toronto.

Including the Cham Shan Buddist Temple, the largest in the city and one of the largest in the country.

Where we discovered something interesting about the City of Peterborough.

Where blogger steven (who dislikes capitalization) lives.

As the huge statue of the Compassionate Buddha looks on, the Cham Shan Buddhist Temple has a major building plan underway. Perhaps you could even describe it as an audacious building plan. They intend to build full size replicas of the four major Buddhist temples of China. All in and around Peterborough.

The wood for the temples will be pre-assembled in China and classic Chinese artisans will be imported to erect the temples.

Here is a scale model of the proposed temple's gate.

The first of the four to be build will be a 6th Century style Wutai Shan Buddhist Garden, to be build in traditional Chinese style without nails or glue and entirely of Rosewood. When completed it will be a perfect replica of the Tang Dynasty Foguang Temple.

And here is a scale model of the proposed temple itself. Soon to rise at 15 Bland Line about 100 km North-East of Toronto

Surprising what you discover when you get out of the house.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday My Town Shootout--Places Of Worship

Linda and I stumbled on some very mysterious structures deep in the forests of the Rouge Valley. Obviously they are shelters of some kind. But who built them and when? And why?

Their discovery changed the entire focus of our Friday Shoot Out, suddenly Places of Worship were no longer just about Churches, Mosques, Temples and Synagogues.

Once again Linda and I are combining our efforts and jointly hosting a single page for our My Town Shootout.

At least until I'm through this new round of chemotherapy (read Christmas).

So to see how these structures refocused our joint posting CLICK HERE FOR FRIDAY SHOOT OUT

I will have even more to say about this discovery in my post on Lindsay next Wednesday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Putting My Affairs In Order 2--An Alternate View

"Don't be afraid, there's another way to look at all this!"

In my dream, I sat once again in my Naturopath's comfortable office and watched her face relax into a smile. She shook her head in disbelief, looking at me with warm and amused eyes. Her voice soft against my ears.

"Barry," she said. "You're not going to die. You're going to live for a very long time. This is the truth and you'd better get used to it."

I awoke with a start in my bed at home. The clock on the dresser suggested it was just after 4:00 in the morning. And it was pitch black.

The words, "You're not going to die", ran through my head, the product of a dream.

Had my Naturopath ever said such a thing? Even hinted at such a thing? At four in the morning, my brain befuddled by sleep, I couldn't decide.

Yet it felt true and I felt so euphoric I couldn't sleep. I was going to live, for a long while. Guaranteed.

But the next morning, now fully awake, I went with Linda to the lawyer to draw up our wills.

I was living in two irreconcilable worlds, I realized. There was conventional reality in which my chances of dying within the next few years was about 85%, the world I wrote about in part 1 of this series. This was a world where CT scans and nuclear bone scans had detected the metastasizing of my cancer to the bones of my hip, ribs and spine. A reality in which doctors had given up on a cure. A world in which harbouring hope for a longer future was a sad sign of denial.

But there was also an alternate reality, the reality of the health I felt. Of the world in which I actually lived. The world I experienced on a daily basis. Because I didn't feel ill and wouldn't until my next treatment on the 19th of this month pumped more Taxol into my system.

It was a world in which people survived worst cancers than mine. A world in which cancers disappeared on their own. A world where diet and meditating and prayer and the positive energies of well wishers had a measurable impact. The world of my MEDS program. It was a world in which traditional treatments, folk remedies, had gone to war against cancer for generations, and won.

At least now and then.

It was a world in which expecting a shortened lifespan involved denying a whole world of healing. A world in which hope was the only reasonable emotional response and it was despair that signaled you were out of touch with the facts of reality. In this world, if you felt despair, you were wallowing in a pathetic delusion, wallowing in self-pity.

No, I'm not becoming schizoidal. It is our culture that has split reality into two, not me. Our culture that has split reality into alternative world views that are not as complimentary as they claim.

You see, I can't despair when I have hope. I cannot have hope when medical facts argue otherwise.

And so I prepare for the worst, but expect the best.

And live in today. Where my odds of surviving the day are exactly the same as yours.

Where I live happily. Comfortably. Not heroically, just normally. With a normal level of fitness and energy. With a normal appetite. And normal interests. Where I run and hike and lift weights.

Where I love my wife.

Where I take from both worlds the best they have to offer.

And laugh at all the rest.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Lindsay Unfinished

I'm working on a small film that isn't about Lindsay, actually; although she appears in it. The film isn't finished yet but I've been asked how I film myself in my videos without having a cameraman along?

This little film clip of Lindsay and I going for a walk shows the answer. The clip is about 30 seconds long and the only processing has involved adding music.

Alan was kind enough to provide some bagpipe music for video backgrounds and I wanted to see how well the pipes would work.

As you can see, what I did to film myself was place the camera on a fence post, turn the camera on and then do whatever action I want to film. Walking with Lindsay, in this case. In later editing I can cut the video so it shows only about 10 seconds of me either walking away or toward the camera.

The final film will be about a mysterious discovery Linda and I made while walking Lindsay through the forests of the Rouge Valley. You can get a glimpse of what we discovered in Friday's shootout.

I could tell you the rest, but wouldn't want to spoil the fun.

The final film will be about 3-4 minutes long and should be ready to post next week. I need to go back to our discovery and shoot a little more film first.


And as a Salute to Veteran's Day in the States and Remembrance Day here in Canada, here is a new musical tribute to our troops written and performed by my brother Keith's good friend Bob Reid---

We will observe a minutes silence here at 11:00 am.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Putting My Affairs In Order

Dr. Darling put her hand on my knee and looked me in the eye. She had just told me my cancer had metastasized and that I was no longer a candidate for surgery. I was no longer considered curable. That my life expectancy was no more than a few years and might only be a matter of months.

Not an easy thing for her to tell me. Not an easy thing for me to hear.

"And now," she went on, "while you're still feeling strong and have the energy, might be a good time for you to put your affairs in order."

That was a conversation seared in my memory banks. For its clarity, it might have taken place an hour ago, but in truth over two months have now passed. The cancer has spread even further and I am in the midst of a second round of chemotherapy.

During those two months I have been learning that "putting your affairs in order" is not a simple task.

Linda and I have been to a lawyer and have had new wills drawn up. My medical coverage at work will run out on the 16th on this month and I have elected to retire, effectively cutting my income in half. Of course I have been working toward a plan to retire for some time, have cleared away my debts and have savings. Not the amount of savings I had hoped, due to the recession, but sufficient. More than sufficient if the doctor's timetable is correct.

But I also have an elderly mother whose pension only covers half the cost of her stay in a retirement home. I have been meeting the other half. Different arrangements have to be made to cover her costs and that will mean changes to her modest estate that will affect her will. Changes I will have to discuss with other family members.

These are things that need to be done. There are other changes that are options and need to be thought through but will have a significant effect on our lifestyle. Do we keep two cars? Do we keep a landline and a cell phone each? Do we keep the house or sell and move to a condo?

Do condos accept dogs?

What are the chances of our winning the lottery?

Linda and I have been working through these financial affairs through this past week and discovering one thing. Even for very modest estates like mine, financial planning is very complicated.

And very personal. The waves of change involved reach out and touch a lot of people, change a lot of lives.

We want to get this right.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

+ 1 A Feast Of Pipes

I thought I would finish this little series on Scotland with one thing the previous videos seemed to lack. Whatever that might have been.

"Maybe it was bagpipes", Bonnie suggested. "Yes," my cousin Alan agreed, "bagpipes. We need bagpipes!"

And he even sent me several mpgs suitable for future video soundtracks.

Fortunately, during our 2002 visit to Scotland Linda and I lucked into perfect timing for us to take in the Edinburgh Festival, which began with not one, not two but over a hundred pipers in a massed band. Oh, and canons and fireworks too----

The military bands were stirring but they too lacked something. Maybe some dancers to dress up the music a little. How about a couple of highland dancers? Or maybe a few more? Oh, what the heck, lets make it hundreds of Scottish Dancers too---

Wow! Now that was a show.

Although, it lacked a little something as well. Something primal, tribal. Something that takes us back to the very roots of piping.

But that is something the tribal music of Clann An Drumma (children of the drum) was made to provide. Just listen---

I shot three videos of their music that day and put them up on YouTube where they have collectively been viewed nearly 20,000 times

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mystic Scotland (Part 3 of 3 + 1)

The wind is fierce high above the North Atlantic. Here a mighty castle once stood defiantly in its wake, rooted to the solid rock, sentries posted along its walls, their eyes riveted on the distant horizon for the first terrifying glimpse of Norse Viking sail.

Now battered by the centuries, the remnants of Duntulm Castle still cling to a shear rock face on the extreme Northern headland of the Isle of Skye.

It was built by the MacDonalds in the 14th Century as defense against the Norse but abandoned when the infant son of a Clan Chief fell to his death from the rocky walls.

In punishment his nursemaid was set afloat alone on the North Atlantic. If her spirit remains to haunt these walls, as many have claimed, eyes hallowed and carrying the limp body of a young boy in her arms seeking to return him to his father, it is hard to believe her scream could be heard about the shriek of the winds.

Two other ghosts are said to haunt this wind swept castle ruin, Hugh MacDonald who was locked in the dungeon and starved to death and the weeping of Margaret MaDonald, shunned by her husband after losing an eye in an accident.


This post is for my friend Fairweather, who enjoys reading a spooky post almost as much as she enjoys writing one.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Home Town Shoot Out

Linda and I are continuing to combine our efforts and jointly host a single page for our Shootouts on Friday.

At least until I'm through this new round of chemotherapy (read Christmas).

So to see our contribution this week please CLICK HERE

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mystic Scotland (Part 2 of 3 + 1)

When this cairn was built and these massive standing stones were dragged into position, the birth of Jesus was still 2000 years in the future. Yet when Linda and I visited in 2002, as the culmination of 10 years of research into our Family History, we found them standing. Still.

This is the 4000 year old cairn at Corrimony, outside Beauly,in Northern Scotland. Surrounded by grazing sheep, this 4000 year old ruin calls us back beyond the bounds of history into realms of myth.

The cairns are thought to date from the late Neolithic period, and this type of cairn seems to be a style developed in this part of Scotland, which are collectively known as Clava Cairns.

Unlike the larger Neolithic tombs found in other parts of the country, it seems that the tombs at Clava were not used over a long period of time for a large community, rather evidence suggests that they were preserved for more elite members of a tribe. Perhaps a ruling caste or priesthood

The cairn is surrounded by 12 standing stones. Its original capstone lies off to one side, leaving the central portion of the chamber's roof now open to the elements.

It is still possible to crawl into the central chamber via a claustrophobic passage some 7 metres in length (as you'll see in the video I couldn't resist doing).

The mound was excavated in 1952 - when it was restored to its present condition - and traces of a burial in fetal position were discovered. The bones themselves had dissolved through the acidity of the soil working across millennia, with only a stain on the ground left to tell of their existence.

The passage and chamber are aligned on a Southwestern axis, aliened to the Midwinter sunset, as with the cairns at Clava. Midwinter was an important time of rebirth in the ancient calendar, as the sun began to regain its hold over the dark nights.


Bonnie has asked for bagpipe music in the background of these videos. I'm not able to do that but will post some amazing videos of Scottish Pipers and Dancers from our 2002 trip to Scotland on Sunday. Hence the "+ 1" revision in the title of this post. Hope you enjoy it Bonnie!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lindsay IS Motion

The forest rests quietly in the warm sun of late Autumn, basking in the unexpected heat of a November day. Purring.


Until a distant sound is heard, the crackling of crisp Fall leaves beneath four prancing paws.

The sound intensifies until suddenly a wet nosed, black, waggy-tailed shape comes bounding along a forest trail that was ancient even when the moccasined feet of First Nation's people originally trod there. Her white tipped tail waves with euphoria. Her tongue hangs out the side of her mouth, panting with pleasure.

Lindsay is a blur of motion. No, it's not the inferiority of my little camera, she is actually a blur of motion, beyond any aperture speed's ability to capture.

Leaves fly in every direction as she hits the yellow carpeted floor of the forest, swirling about to check that Barry is still in sight.

And then she plunges on, over fallen logs and rocks, around the dark menacing trunks of giant oaks, white birch and mighty pines. She almost sails.

And then, as if she appreciates the disturbance she has made, as if she is aware she is desecrating the sacred peace of nature's own cathedral, as if she is aware she has been acting like a bull in a china shop, she halts.

And stands quietly in the profound silence of the early morning.

Before scampering off in glee until she is but a small black dot on the horizon.