Crossing Paths with Mary, Queen of Scots in Scotland – Photo Essay

We left Dalhousie in the rain and drove to Melville Castle. Finished in 1791, it’s one of the “newer” castles in the area. We inquired in hopes of finding some bit of history about my relative, Mary Melville, but discovered some about another Mary, Queen of Scotts, and her lover, Rizzio. They lived in a manor house previously built on the estate. He planted a chestnut tree in her honor and she reciprocated with five oaks. The trees remain to this day.

Melville Castle 1

Melville Castle entrance

The castle has been remodeled to accommodate guests as a hotel. Danny signs in.

Melville Castle entry

We rested our weary bones in the day room.

Melville Castle Day Room

The back stairs.

Stairway in Melville Castle

The restaurant for hotel guests.

Dinner in the dungeon

On our way out of the castle.

Leaving Melville Castle

From there, we drove to Linlithgow Palace, Mary, Queen of Scotts’ Happy Castle. I could see why it was given that name. Long winding passageways opened up to grand porches for viewing the vast countryside and waterways. I could imagine Mary hanging out on the deck in a sumptuous gown, glass of wine in her delicate hand, while plotting how to hide the Knight’s Templar’s treasures entrusted to her. An enemy of the Roman Catholic Church, cousin, King Henry, would surely help the cause.

From there, we drove to my ancestor’s old stomping grounds in Perth. My great grandmother, Mary Melville, somehow met Ed McCartan of Northern Ireland and they immigrated to Waukesha, Wisconsin. My dad was Ed McCartan, Jr. Mary Melville was his Scottish grandmother.

Funny note made from the County:

“The divorce case of EDWARD and MARY MCCARTAN which appears on the circuit court calendar, may as well be taken off. Just before the session of the court began, it was found that the parties had become reconciled and were living together again in connubial bliss”.

Source: Waukesha Freeman (Waukesha, Wis.) May 24, 1883

Editor Note: Perhaps after bearing 11 children the romance had faded slightly.

In 1900, most of the family has moved to the town of Richfield in Washington County. Edward and wife, Mary, live in separate places; Edward with his daughter Mary, and Mary, Sr. lives by herself but only several houses away. Apparently, the divorce reconciliation didn’t last long.

As we drove past stone and stucco homes, we passed a lovely park and lake. I had expected it to be a quaint and small town, but it was filled with historical significance and interesting architecture. The town dates back to prehistoric times. The Stone of Destiny once rested in the Scone Abbey where the King of Scots was crowned. Later, Perth became the stomping grounds for Jacobite uprisings.

Following signs to the city center, we found ourselves on Melville Street. Brilliant!

Perth City Center

We parked the car and splashed through puddles in search of a café for late lunch and tea. After passing several cute shops, one caught my eye. The windows were filled with tweeds for women with extraordinary pops of color. I stepped inside Blues and Browns and Danny dutifully followed.

We met Karen, a very enthusiastic shop owner, who regaled us with Hollywood connection. As a send off for her daughter’s first college semester, she decided to blow her money on a trip to Paris to visit her great aunt, Olivia De Havilland, (an Academy Award winner, twice!) Being a seamstress, she spent hours sewing fine clothing suitable for someone of that stature. So very excited, the day finally arrived. They coiffed their hair and had their nails done then made their way to her Paris apartment.

But like so many grand laid plans, life has other ideas. While on their way, the skies opened up and it poured. Without rain gear or an umbrella, they soon became soaked to the skin. Water dripped from their hems. They had come too far to turn around now. The maid buzzed them inside and gave them each a plush robe to wear while their clothes dried. They met their prestigious relative and enjoyed the afternoon sipping tea and chatting. Olivia is one hundred years old now and still lives in Paris.

The cute shop owner recommended the cute Rose House café/flower shop around the corner for a snack on a pedestrian mall. We met the owner and staff who told us a bit of history. Situated across from the cafe is St. John’s Kirk, the Church my relatives most likely attended. This historic building dates back to the 1200s where John Knox gave a speech which led to the Scottish Reformation in 1559.

Coffee at the Rose House

After a scrumptious soup and sandwich, we jumped into the car and drove to Inverness. The adventure takes a new twist of fate! Stay tuned. Lots more to come…

Related post:

Scotland – So Far, So Very Good – Photo Essay

Scotland – So far, So Very Good – Photo Essay

So far, our vacation has been spectacular. We started in Glasgow and drove to Edinburgh. I only drove the wrong way once, but immediately rode over the median, much to the amusement of Scottish onlookers. Oopsy!

Since we are already up in Inverness and Nessie is waiting for us to take a peek, I will take you on a photo journey of only a few of the places we have visited in the last few days.

Dalhousie Castle

We stayed in Dalhousie Castle for two nights.  With spectacular history and equally fine appointments, I was ready to move in.

Ready to move into Dalhousie Castle

We took a tour of the Rosslyn Church of Da Vinci Code fame. Legend has it, when the Roman Catholic Church tried to disband the Knights Templar, they hid their treasure somewhere in the church. The tour guide told us of a paver which holds much of the building’s energy. The man is stepping on it in the photo. Not expecting much, I stepped on the stone. A chill traveled up my legs as I broke out in a sweat much to the excitement of the elderly docent.

Rosslyn Church stone

Edinburgh Castle is well worth a look.

Edinburgh Castle

Amusement on the Royal Mile.

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Had a fabulous meal at Maison Bleu.

Maison Bleu - Edinburgh

Stopped by Stirling Castle during a rainstorm.

Stirling Castle Entry

Danny and I seeking shelter under the arch.

Sterling Castle on a rainy day

We have to call the bell hop. It’s a half hour past check out. Got to run! More later…

Going to see Nessie today!

One Way to Prepare for the UK

Prepare to drive on the wrong side of the road in the UK
I will travel far and wide in Europe this summer and will drive during part of the trip.

No big deal, right? I drive all the time. But I’ve never driven in the UK where they drive on the wrong side of the road. Whoa.

Why am I freaking out?

It always takes me a while to get used to doing something new. Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m a spazz. My tennis coach used to take my arm and move it through the motion of every new stroke. When I tried Zumba, I was shamed by the elderly ladies dancing the Samba for the first time.

Don’t get me started about my left hand. I never know what it’s doing. Just last night, I held a key in my hot little left hand and forgot about it.

“Where’s the key?” asked my husband, Danny.

“I don’t know, ” I said. Then I looked at my totally lame left hand. “Ha! Here it is!”

The first time I ever drove, my dad sat in the passenger seat while we crossed the street to the humongous school parking lot. Only one car parked in the lot that Saturday afternoon. I had tons of room in which to take my maiden voyage in our Buick. I took long, slow practice turns around the lot. That one car frightened me. I closed my eyes to mere slits and cringed every time I drove past. At one point, I pointed our station wagon in its direction and drove at ramming speed. My dad wrenched my grip on the steering wheel so I wouldn’t plow into it! In my defense, the Law of Attraction came into play. It was a pretty nice Ford Pinto.

How would I get used to driving without closing my eyes to oncoming traffic?

I got a BRILLIANT idea!

Youtube driving simulators.

The first video was a driver’s test in Halifax. It started out with everything and more. Soon I took right turns into the left hand lane, (in my head) like a pro. I enjoyed the tense banter between student and instructor too.

Then I had a WTF moment. The student driver took a right hand turn onto a street where the cars parked toward her on both sides of the road. It was a ONE WAY STREET! She would fail for sure. I waited for the retribution. And I waited. Nope. The driver’s ed teacher kept quiet as they continued as if nothing happened.

My Eureka moment:

Crazy Brits park any which way they want! (Apologies to my British friends.) Sometimes they all park into oncoming traffic. Why? Now I have to watch for one-way signs at every corner!

It lost me after a boring parallel parking lesson.

I found second video recorded in The Cotswolds for treadmill or spin classes. The classical music soothed my virtual white knuckles. Then streets narrowed and a car approached. I focused on the music as the driver pulled over to the side of the road to let the other car pass. What a concept!

After a few minutes with both videos, my confidence soared. I’m sure I’ll drive like a pro after these unintentional tutorials. I hope I don’t get mixed up while running errands in Boulder…

Have you driven in the United Kingdom? Have you ever driven down the wrong side of the road? Do you like road trips?

When Destiny Packs Your Bags

A Cosmic Joke After Trauma

Threats and Warnings. What Would You Do?

Threats and Warnings – What Would You Do?

So destiny has packed our bags and my husband, Danny, and I will travel to five European countries during the month of June. One of them is England. I had thought it perfect timing that Blogger’s Bash 2017 would be held in London while we traveled from Scotland to France. We made our reservations near Victoria Station and are ready to go. I can’t wait to meet my blogging friends from the UK.

Then the unthinkable happened in Manchester. Prime Minister Theresa May raised the terrorist threat flag from severe to critical adding “an attack is imminent.” She called for police presence on the streets and help from the military. Not exactly the relaxing trip I’d planned.

We stopped in NYC on our way to Europe a few weeks before 9/11. My son, Kelly, wanted to see the World Trade Center, so we taxied down to the financial district. You never know. (I’m behind the camera.)

world trade center 2001

Why so much hatred in the world? Of all concerts, why Ariana Grande? She is queen of the tweens. So many little girls attended. Why would killing little girls be a terrorist’s goal? I imagine a horrific, hellish afterlife where they suffer for eternity. That line of thought ends with me hating them. That’s not the answer. Hate begets hate. Somehow or other, things have got to settle down. We all need to peace the hell out.

World leaders tweeted strong defensive strategies like stopping ISIS before their routine attacks undermine and dismantle the government. That didn’t sit well with me. I’m not a defense kind of gal. I loved the Pope’s message: “Dialogue allows us to plan for a future in common. Through dialogue we build peace, taking care of everyone.” That’s playing offense.

Every day security ramps up. Some British tourist attractions are closed. Worries have extended to France, Belgium and Germany. Great.

It’s no big deal to hunker down in Scotland. I am an Outlander super fan and could find tons of activities to keep me busy. But I visualize terrorists hidden in gloomy alleys who watch my cowardly reaction. They throw up their hands and shout, “We win!” I’m not a coward. I refuse to live my life in fear. Instead, I will be vigilant.

I have no control over others and their hatred. I only have control over myself. But I can make an impact by loving others without judgement and living my wild life. If it means going to Europe in June where terrorism just got real, then the Wild Ride will get a little wilder. I can’t wait! The countdown has begun.

England collage

Would you cancel your trip? What would you do to stay safe? Any travel tips, you’d like to share?

Related posts:

Change Your World

When Destiny Packs Your Bags

And Our Flag Was Still There

A Cosmic Joke After Trauma

Notorious Colorado Weather – A Photo Essay

Colorado weather is notorious for its unpredictability, but I’ve never seen anything like the superstorm that arrived this week. 2017 has been a year of the unpredictable, with the death of my brother and ceiling cave-in. I keep looking for that silver lining. It’s in my nature.

A week ago, I worried about how I would get “everything” done before floor refinishers and painters take over the house for the month of June. Part of my long list included planting annuals. Not only a couple of pots placed on tables, but at least eleven urns and four window boxes. That’s a lot of plant material.

radient flower box

Usually, I check out all of the garden centers before buying in order to save money. This year, I’m under a time crunch, so I was tempted to buy everything at one place. I vibed out and couldn’t motivate. After fighting the crowds over the warm Mother’s Day weekend, I only bought geraniums on Monday. Then I looked at the five day forecast and couldn’t believe my eyes. Tiny flakes of snow were predicted to arrive on Thursday night. I figured the snow would melt before waking.

The beginning of the storm rolled in several days early with huge hail in the form of golf ball-sized snowballs on Monday. It reminded me of a scene from The Day After Tomorrow. I’d never seen anything like it. You’ll have to trust me since they melted before I could take a picture. Thunderstorms rolled through the next two days.

Thursday, 8:30 AM:

After I blogged my Twin Peaks post, I looked up from my computer to the kitchen window. “It’s snowing!” I sprang from my chair and stared at the giant quarter-sized flakes. I figured it was a fluke and it would soon turn to rain.

9:00 AM:

It’s still snowing. Large puddles are forming on my lawn. A great day for ducks. Maybe you can see the duck in this video.

At this point, I wasn’t worried. It was early. The temperature would rise.

The following photographs are blurry from all the snow falling. Check out the size of the flakes in some of them.

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Beginning of the spring snowstorm 2017

3:00 PM:

My fingers froze while knocking down heavy snow from brittle branches. Soaking wet and exhausted, I gave up and came back inside.

Under the apple tree

6:00 PM:

You can’t even tell that I knocked down the snow. The trees look crippled under the heavy weight.

Notorious Colorado Weather - Photo Essay.jpg

01D5FDEB-D922-4A86-AC70-A8031D98989E

Friday, 8:30 AM:

We woke up to MORE snow and fog. Graduations are being postponed along with most outdoor sports. Can you imagine all the planning and flights, and how people are scrambling to reorganize? We have six inches of snow here in Niwot. Trees are hunched over and frozen like conspiring old men.

The silver lining? Arapahoe Basin Ski Resort is open and has over two feet of champagne powder! I wish I could go… I will return my geraniums and wait until July to plant. Cross one full day of work off my list.

They are predicting another one to four inches of snow today! We didn’t get any in March, usually our snowiest month. What is happening?

winter storm 2017 What is happening?

10:15 AM:

As the sun peaks out from the clouds, the trees shrug off the snow and pull themselves up to their full height. The birds are singing and 70 degree weather is in the forecast. Welcome to Colorado weather.

Are you getting our storm? Do you think the weather is getting crazier?

Response to Daily Post – Notorious

Are You Going to Watch Twin Peaks?

TwinPeaks_openingshotcreditsWith the first eerie guitar picks of the Twin Peaks theme song in 1990, the mood was set for a show that would put creepy on a whole new level. After the violent murder of Laura Palmer rocked a small town in Washington, quirky Special Agent Dale Cooper entered the scene to investigate. His love of cherry pie and “Damn good coffee,” contrasted with disturbing characters like the Log Lady and grieving Leland Palmer, strange settings, and townspeople who carried secrets like bags of groceries from the Bargain Market. The audience knew right away that evil lurked. I was hooked.

The supernatural elements of Cooper’s dreams really topped off the show. Riddles in poetic prose, a giant who told him, “The owls aren’t what they seem,” and a little person who spoke in reverse kept me awake for several nights at a time. When we find out Bob is a demon who possesses humans, the killer could be anyone.

Director David Lynch used strange color combinations, sound, music and odd characters to provoke fear by presenting the audience with the unexpected and macabre. Even the most mundane moments took on a sinister quality like when Donna delivers Meals on Wheels to shut-ins. Not knowing where the killer lurked, the audience expected the murderer to spring out at anytime. Lynch didn’t rely on gore or horror in general to scare us. Rather it was tightly wound suspense of the strange scenes that kept his loyal fans glued.

I bought the soundtrack and listened to it over and over again. But it was The Diary of Laura Palmer, which revealed what the show could not. With the description of brutal torture, mutilation, and more clues about Palmer’s tormentor, I realized how dark Twin Peaks really was.

When I discovered Lynch would revive the Twin Peaks series after twenty-five years, I was more than excited. But television has changed a lot since the 90’s. Gory scenes have become mainstream and violent shows like American Horror Story have become popular. I cringe at people getting getting hacked up, preferring old-fashioned psychological tightening of nerve-endings to get my heart racing.

I’ll find out Sunday night if this new season of Twin Peaks is something I can handle. When the credits roll, the first notes of eerie music is strummed, and my heart slows its pace, I will have lasted through the premiere. I hope it’s a season of intense mystery and disturbing chills, causing lots of sleepless nights.

We're going to need some more coffee

Will you watch Twin Peaks on Showtime, Sunday, May 21st? Do you love to be frightened? Are quirky characters your thing?

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A Gym Where Nobody Knows My Name

Chances are, you’ve been a member of a gym or fitness club sometime in your life. You probably made some friends and they helped motivate you to work out. What do you do when you burn out even though everyone knows your name?

My gym experience started in an auspicious way. I snuck into Vic Tanny – the first fitness chain in the US – a few times with a friend to use the hot tub for my notorious knee injury in the 80’s. One day, I got busted. I threw up my hands and signed up. Best thing I ever did. I’ve continued to belong to fitness clubs ever since. I joined the last one to meet others from my neighborhood. I played competitive tennis as a member until diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer and subsequent double boobectomies in 2013, but it was a partial knee replacement a year later that really slowed me down. I tried physical therapy, fitness classes, and yoga, but nothing made the impact I needed to get back into fighting shape.

Typical day in 2016:

“Come on, let’s go to class,” I said to myself.

“But I’m in the middle of writing,” myself countered.

“You’re always writing,” I said.

“In a minute.” I adjusted my focus back on the computer and another day passed.

In January, I set reasonable goals for myself. All are within my own control. Priority #1 is to become fit and strong once again. How would I accomplish my goals if I couldn’t motivate? After being a member for sixteen years, I needed a change.

My kids are members of 24 Hour Fitness, so I checked it out. I looked forward to a gym where nobody knows my name. It would be fun to start fresh and meet new people. Maybe I’d learn something new.

During a three day trial, I checked out a few classes including yoga. The gym filled with Boulderites. I rolled out my mat between a middle-aged woman who had a lot of plastic surgery and a cross-dresser complete with blond wig. I had found my people!

My membership came with a free hour of personal training. After a wicked session with TRX, (straps used by Navy Seals when stationed on ships), free weights, and dead lifts, my muscles groaned. But it felt good to wake up with sore muscles. I hadn’t considered weight training, but remembered hearing how it strengthens bone. My anti-cancer medication, Anastrozole, obliterates estrogen which is what my cancer ate, but also dissolves bone. I don’t want to become shrinky dinky because of skeletal fractures. That would not be good, at all. I’m short enough at 5’4″.

With the help of Brian, the fitness manager, and Sam, a personal trainer, I am officially locked and loaded with sessions bought through a package. Soon, they’ll set me loose to train on my own. Oh, wow… That’s coming up soon. Scheduling me for gym time started a new habit. Endorphin addiction will keep me going.

In the meantime, I’m learning all kinds of torture chamber methods to wake up my minuscule muscles. I trained today and can feel them crying out for mercy. They are total wimps and woosies.

“Pipe down,” I said to my whiny muscles, “You need to be exercised. It’s good for you! We can try new adventures again knowing that I won’t hurt myself because of your puniness.”

“All right. You don’t have to yell.”

I’ll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, two people know my name at my new gym and that’s A-okay.

Clowning around at 24 Hour Fitness

Do you belong to a gym? Do people know your name? Are you a gym rat or a occasional user? I’m striving for the rat category.