Friday, June 20, 2014

Bloom Where You Are Planted...or...Make Lemonade...

My first week here in Portland, Oregon, was splashed with colors of early summer - the Rose Parade events drew huge crowds from all over the world. The NW Portland Hostel Guesthouse was a new experience for me and I reveled in my early morning coffee and bread that they provided, because it put me smack in the middle of the backpackers and other international travelers. I continually surprise myself these days by seeking out the company of other humans. Even on Skye, you may remember, I often relished the group activities - though nothing takes the place of critters. Here in Portland, they show up whenever I do and for that, I am ever grateful.

 Creatures of another sort are plentiful in the city.
 The various Farmers Markets provide fantastic epicurean treats and music fills the streets and green spaces.

Portland Rose Garden out-blossomed the parade and continues to attract flower children, who just can't get enough olfactory pleasure and bury their faces into bush after bush - stopping only to point the camera at particular  fancies.
Right next door is the serenity of the Japanese Gardens, which is welcome after the masses of flower lovers. 

Below is the beauty that took my breath away.

The Sellway Bridge, near my lodgings, allows for a photo op of the majestic Willamette River - Lewis and Clark country.

Just turn around and the green and clean city of Portland peeks over the tranquil river.

...and of course, I've maintained that I am still on Skye in my heart, so why shouldn't I run across some wee ones practicing in the park on the way home?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Why I Love Skye

 The Home Office refused my application to remain in Scotland, even though I told them what an asset I am to the country. Can you imagine?! So off I flew last week to the United States, where I could be a fish out of water but I am still on Skye in my heart, so here is my Springtime on Skye.

In April, my friend Ann let me have a caravan on Tote, above Loch Snizort Beag, just across the loch from where I joyously spent the winter. Here are two of my views. The one on the left is the ubiquitous clothes line, which I never seemed to get the hang of...I saw clothing flying on lines all over the moors and lochs and townships and I have to assume something dried, as folks I talked to seemed to think nothing of it...of course, there is often the slight sour scent of old wet washcloth on some people--but not on my friends! I do think they are delusional about their drying lines.

Spring, I understand from Jennifer at the West Highland Free Press, is still upon the isle. Though I have only been away not quite one week, I have gone into summer mode and dread the heat, even though Portland
is supposed to have a rainy climate...where is it?
Sweat and two showers a day whisper...'summerrrrr' above my left ear.

 I was lucky to get so many shots of the pretty spring flowers on Skye.
I love bamboo and at my old home in the Rockies, I planted it, trusting what they said about it spreading...I said 'oh yay, I hope it does'...but it didn't. Wah. 

 Just walked around the isle snapping pretty flowers.

  Took a lovely drive off of the island to Attadale Gardens. My first thrill was to meet Nicky Macpherson, who owns and designed the gardens. I told her 'what a privilege' and mentioned that I wrote about her and the gardens in my book, Gimme the Song O' the Pipes. She is a gracious and very pretty woman of mature age and she was just taking a break from her heavy, springtime gardening schedule. Thrills happen every day of my life!
I have included here some of the sculptures in her gardens. The roe deer (above) crept upon me and we both startled each other. Hamish Mackie is the artist.

Alexander Jones carved the Chameleon (below) out of lime wood and cast him in bronze.

Profusions of bluebells were everywhere on Skye and in Scotland, as I made my way out of the country.

Above: 'Bream' in Attadale Gardens is a creation in pink dolomite by Kapasa Banda of Zambabwe.

 I actually drove to Attadale to
see the blue poppies--this is the only one I saw! Heavenly.

 I caught some children in Dunvegan, practicing their safety signals across the loch from McLeod's Tables, left.

 One of my many self-portraits, hopefully too small to scrutinize!
 Heading down the west side of Skye, toward the Cuillin, with Loch Bracadale on my right.

 My last little trek up from Sligachan was peppered with French teens passing me and me passing them. I practiced on them: 'Pas de probleme', 'Excusez moi' et 'C'est une bonne journee, n'est pas?'...oh yeah, my German and Dutch weren't so good but I faked it, by generally keeping my mouth shut...yes, me!
Good friends made it so hard to leave. Sob. Dawn is taking care of my sweet little Astra, Patience.

Stewart and Anne saw me off and received my second suitcase a few days later from an Edinburgh post office...consequences of my overly optimistic packing. I'd rather have it on Skye, waiting for my return. 

The Labrador puppy is Stanley--he kisses better than any guy I know and he lavished them upon me.

Photos of places and things that I love. The Fairy Glen, mid-winter, above.

I have a thing about gates. Sooner or later, I will do a post on Skye gates.

Uig Bay on a winter's day.

Edinbane Park Is a joy for mom and dad and kids alike. Dawn is the perfect example of motherhood.

Coral Beach, its turquoise water and mini islands are favorites of photographers and walkers.

Home Office wasn't happy that I was helping out at Crossroads Charity but it was so much fun, I'd never take it back...great employees, volunteers, community support and visitors to the island make it work and I've been volunteering since I was sixteen--wouldn't know what to do without it! 
Peter, the big cheese volunteer, with a certain reporter from the West Highland Free Press.
Two days before I left Skye, I was served tea and crumpets by Claire Macdonald, at a Marie Curie benefit tea under the trees at St. Columba's Church. I know we're not supposed to get excited by the laird concept any more, but I decided it was serendipity that this cook of Kinloch Lodge fame and wife of the Clan Donald High Chief spoiled me a wee bit!
Island townships are receiving defibrillators, one at a time. This was a neighborhood training session at Skeabost--young and old, we all took our turns and became pros at saving lives.
The Fairy Pools are a beautiful surprise on the way to the Cuillin's Sgurr an Fheadain.

 Me lovin' it all - an early March day so warm, I could wear a light cotton skirt... and my little blue kitchen in my cottage on Snizort Beag.

Skye Gathering Hall

 More that I love...Portree Bay, above...

I haven't seen a sheep in Portland yet...
 Remnants of the Clearances are all over the island...

 Castle Duntulm has an amazing prospect...Lewis and Harris are far off on the horizon...

...Skye roads are sublime.

Springtime on Skye is an explosion of babies...beware the roads...the good thing is, lambies and calves are not jaded yet and will run from the road at the sight of humans or automated creatures.

I am enamored of the history here. The McLeod castle of Dunvegan has this marvelous sea gate off of the loch. Below this, the Portree Skye Quilters' representation of the Battle of the Braes, for the famous Great Tapestry of Scotland, which chronicles 12,000 years of Scottish history. Notice the lassies throwing rocks...the women of this community beat the tar out of the bad guys (policemen and soldiers). This gives me faith that I shall overcome the 'powerful ones'.

Cheery, til we meet again.