Ardvreck Castle on Loch Assynt, 2014
Ardvreck Castle in the Highlands of Scotland was the home of the MacLeods of Assynt. The MacLeods were traditional Lairds of Assent and Sutherland. The castle is a 15th-16th Century L-planned fortified tower house. Battles came and went and the MacLeods of Ardvreck Castle was eventually overtaken by their bitter enemies the MacKenzies of Wester-Ross. Lightning destroyed the bulk of the castle much later and the ruins sit majestically next to the A837.
Naturally, there are ghost stories – the favorite being this I read on British Express: “Legends cling to the enigmatic ruins. It is said that the ghost of a MacLeod chieftain’s daughter wanders the beach, weeping. She married the Devil in an effort to save the castle from destruction, then she drowned in the loch. Another ghost, a mysterious man in grey, wanders about the castle ruins.”
Scotland is the perfect setting for ghost stories. That, plus after touring the Highlands one gets the true sense of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings for much of his inspiration was drawn from these mountains, lochs, brooding clouds and damp rains. Scotland inspires.
Scotland Saltire flying at Ullapool, Scotland, 2014
My feet are firmly planted in the USA and I love it here. This is my home, my country. However, I am unable to shake the profound, deep love that’s developed deep, deep within me for the beautiful country of Scotland since visiting in 2014. Those ancient rocks and lochs, towering mountains and a thousand shades of green hugging a multitude of villages that house people I’m certain are ancestors. They have to be. I just feel it. There is nothing like a malty Scottish ale from the tap, oh my the goodness. Whiskey was never my thing until a tasting there and ever since a 14 year Oban is always in my cabinet for special times.
The photo above is Ullapool, Scotland. Lying beside Loch Broom in the Northwest Highlands, Ullapool itself is said to be derived from the norse ‘Ulla-Bolstadr’ meaning ‘Ulla’s steading’. The further north you go the more Norse connections you see. Anchored by the fish and sea trade, Ullapool is one of the many fishing villages commissioned by the British Fisheries Society in the 1780’s to help create trade and grow Scotland. Let’s just don’t talk about the clearances – makes me sad.
Whenever two contrails create a saltire in a blue sky I photograph it and send to my bestie, without whom I would never have gone. She was chasing her roots; I was along for the ride simply to photograph a place I’d always wanted to visit. I cannot wait to go back. Haste ye back the airport sign said as I left, weeping. I will, I will.
“I gave three years of my life to take care of my dying mother who had Alzheimer’s disease. Being there for her every need for three years might have looked codependent but it wasn’t because it was what I wanted to do.” (Melody Beattie)
This quote resonated with me today. The past few years I have been away a lot helping to care for my four parents. Mom and stepfather, dad and stepmother. I love them all. I lost two of them the past year and a half – my father and stepmother. And I was there, helping. It’s not co-dependent, this act of love. It is a choice. I could have chosen to stay home and let my sister and stepbrothers do the caring, but that is not “me.” Many people have questioned my actions since, but I tell you I’ll do it again. For my mom and my stepfather. All of them have been there for me and I intend to be there for them. That’s what human beings do. That’s what family does. While we are all giving Thanks for what we have I believe that giving Thanks isn’t a one-day holiday. It’s every day in every way, in every thing that we do. That’s my belief. Be Thankful and show Love everyday.
Two Pelicans at Sunrise 2014
But let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.”
“My words are tied in one
With the great mountains
With the great rocks
With the great trees.
In one with my body,
and my heart.
Do you all help me
with supernatural power,
And you, Day
And you, Night
All of you see me
One with this World.”
Yokuts Indian Prayer
Today, sending you all flowers and love through cyberspace. Please love each other.
Rill marks, 2015
Rill marks are those rivulets of sea water streaming back into the sea at low tide. During high tide the ocean is smushed into the beach, filling the spaces between sand and grain with moisture. The beach, used to this assault takes it all in, as accepting of it as a mother to a insistent child. The child will not be denied so the mother deals and absorbs. When the child takes its nap the mother weeps out her frustration as she looks at the child with love. The Earth weeps tears after the assault only to take it all over again. Such is the circle of Life.
Soft sunrise 2013
I confess to being fearful these days. Not worrying about myself but worrying for our planet and our children and grandchildren. What happens to this planet in the near future will effect future generations and then some. We no longer have a steward of the earth in the White House. Our progressive country should be investing in clean energy and planning ahead, not looking behind or in our wallets. Plan for the people, for the future. My head is not stuck in the sand and I will fight but my heart is heavy. I hope these soft beach images help you as much as they do me. Peace.
“Physically and spiritually, we all are woven into the living processes of the Earth. We take part in – as science now tells us – a planet-sized living system. Our breathing, our acting, our thinking arise in interaction with our shared world. Our own hearts constantly beat out the cosmic rhythm within us. We cannot escape our involvement any more than we can escape breathing the air that has traveled from plants thousands of miles away.
The mountains, I become part of it…
The herbs, the fir tree, I become a part of it.
The morning mists, the clouds, the gathering waters,
I become a part of it.”
Earth Prayers From Around the World; Edited by Elizabeth Robert and Elias Amidon
“How strange and wonderful is our home, our earth,
with its swirling vaporous atmosphere,
its flowing and frozen climbing creatures,
the croaking things with wings that hang on rocks
and soar through the fog, the furry grass, the scaly seas.
How utterly rich and wild
yet some among us has the nerve,
the insolence, the brass, the gall to whine
about the limitations of our earthbound fate
and yearn for some more perfect world beyond the sky.
We are none of us good enough for the world we have