Thursday, December 24, 2009

Favorites & Remembrances

Viaggiatore and I are wandering through our time together here on our blog. Reminiscing about old blog friends, laughing at funny moments, looking back at all of the time we've spent and places we've gone.

Instead of posting a New Years meme, we've decided to share some favorite stories and experiences with you. There is no rhyme or reason; only smiles and laughter as we wander back through the years we've shared together.

Read what you like, and comment if you want to; we'll be checking in.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

All of the Viaggiatore stories: See links at right, they are chronologically ordered! Very important if you want to know who he is, where he came from and how he ended up here!

Where Do You Live - A look at where we've been

Killing Me Ever So Softly - A dark journey into the heart and soul

Dream Maker - An underdog realizes his dreams... heartwarming!

Armed and Dangerous - In which I embark on an unexpected and riotous quest

Armed & Dangerous II - The sequel... because I never do anything halfway...

Philosophy, Justification & Irony - The truly humorous story of a tea bags journey to my mug, and my justification of it

The 3 Men Who Walked On Water - Laugh out loud photo of the day...

Schmoozing With His Majesty, King Elvis - 30 Years Later - Funny story about little people and the King

The Earl of Gray & the Chocolate Kiss - A sensuously tasty poem

Reflection - A very sobering (brief) video that will astound you and possibly bring a tear to your heart.

Easter Chicken - Scarlett's shenanigans in the kitchen for a holiday dinner...

My Love - A letter to a soul mate

Wandering With Bay - I take a little girl on a big adventure!

Settling Matters of the Heart - The great debate on whether one should settle in love or not!

There's an Explanation For Almost Everything - Government hilariously defined

The Picture Worth a Thousand Words - Sarah Palin wearing the other teams colors...

Of Murderers & Journalism - I ferociously lambaste U.S. Rep Jared Polis for his cold and callous remarks regarding the death of newspapers

There & Back Again - Photo post of my journey with Mr. Black to Versailles and Paris

At Home in Scotland - Photo post of the trip Mr. Black and I enjoyed in Scotland

Twilight Reminiscing - I recount the stories of our journey to Paris

Walking Through Echoes of the Past - I recount the stories of our visit in Scotland

Traveling Tails ~ Boston! - Mr. Black and I visit Boston

We hope you've enjoyed wandering with us, on our shore and on all the distant shores we love to visit. Have a very Happy New Year! We'll see you in January.

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Friday, December 18, 2009

Traveling Tails ~ Boston

Viaggiatore, Mr. Black and I have returned from Boston with several photos, some nice postcards, and some more memories tucked into our pockets. We visited for 4 days and squeezed in quite bit of fun...

Museum of Fine Arts
Harry Potter Exhibition at Museum of Science
Guitar Hero Laser Show at Museum of Science
Boston Ballet ~ Nutcracker
Afternoon Tea at the Plaza
Coffee shops
Charles St.
The Freedom Trail
Revere Beach (Atlantic Ocean)
Mike's Pastry Shop & Hanover St.
Cheers (both)
Boston Symphony
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum


We had three hotel rooms in four nights. The sink leaked in the first one, the second one was a handicapped room with a drive in shower that resembled a locker room and there were teenagers a few rooms down who were seriously committed to hallway races at 3:30 in the morning. After a brief discussion with the management, we were put into a very nice room on the executive level for the last two nights.

We walked over the better part of Boston, taking it all in and enjoying it, but none of the walks was quite as good as the late night walk through a downpour rain under a shared umbrella. It was a bit of a long walk as I'd directed our path several blocks left when we should have gone one block to the right... but it was still very nice.

On the train to the Boston Symphony, I'd been sitting next to a rather shabby looking young man (whom Mr. Black is certain was a gang member), and when his stop came, he stood to get off the train and motioned with his head for me to follow him. I was shocked and tried my very best not to erupt in hysterical laughter. The boy was quite serious. He tried to convince me, without words, but to no avail, so he finally gave up and left me there with Mr. Black.

Mr. Black took over the Navigator duties after I discovered we'd been on the wrong train for half an hour; en route to the Museum of Fine Arts. Oops.

We drank 6 pots of different teas at our Afternoon Tea at the Plaza and visited with their resident tea sommelier, Cynthia Gold, who is a wealth of information on one of my favorite beverages and a wonderful lady.

I loved leaving footprints in the sand on Revere Beach, and slipping some pretty shells into my pocket, to touch when I am aching for the sea.

The rest of the stories will be saved for another day. It was a very nice trip, indeed.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wishing You A Very Merry Christmas

Viaggiatore and I have put up the tree, woven with soft white lights and trimmed with treasures gathered over the years. The stockings are hung over the glow of a warm fireplace, snow globes adorn the mantle, and an army of Nutcrackers stand guard throughout the house. Candlelight dances and Christmas music plays, trays of chocolates and drums of candy canes sit waiting by the door, where the mistletoe hangs.

It is such a very special time of year, and we wish so much that the cheer and joy of the season finds you and nestles itself in your hearts and in your holiday.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On The Road Again!

Viaggiatore, Mr. Black and I are heading out onto the road again! We are going to visit Boston! I love Boston. I wish it was October instead of December... but it will be a delightful, albeit cold, visit.

We'll hit a couple of book stores, visit Boston Ballet, wander through little Italy in the North End, walk on the beach (weather permitting), check out China town, walk the Freedom Trail, enjoy an afternoon tea at the Taj, see the new exhibits at the Museum of Fine Art and the Isabella Gardner Museum as well as a few other surprises... and of course pay a visit to Cheers!

If you've been, what would you recommend we see and do?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

A very Happy Thanksgiving to you!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just A Note Or Two

A: Viaggiatore and I are very glad to be back! It's been a long break this time. Too long!

B Flat: Congratulations to Michelle of Bleeding Espresso for winning the Wandering Expedition! We may have one again at some point in the future... Viaggiatore and I do love to travel! So does Michelle, as it turns out!

C: Scarlett was extremely lucky and got to do a photo shoot/story with Harrison Ford this last Saturday. His fiance Calista Flockhart and their son were there as well. I will not post all the really good shots, because those are for publication elsewhere, but here's a sweet hello from them to you:

D: There is another upcoming journey which Viaggiatore and I will be posting about soon! We haven't seen the ocean since April and it's time to go again; although I have a feeling it will be much too cold to put our toes and paws into the waves! We'll enjoy the creme pie and delicious Italian food from the little Italy neighborhood in the northern part of this old seaside town. We'll walk trails and beaches, see stunning works of art and even drop in on Harry Potter! Of course, we couldn't visit Harry without bringing Mr. Black along for the adventure! Photos and stories to come in a few weeks.

E: Viaggiatore and I are off to enjoy Turandot from the Met Opera tomorrow night; no photos but definitely comments from that, to come soon as well.

Until we wander back again!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Thank You, Veterans

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Passport Stamps

"There is nothing nobler or more admirable than when two people who see eye to eye, keep house as man and wife, confounding their enemies and delighting their friends." ~Homer, Odyssey 9th Century BC

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Another Brief Interblued!

Those crazy kids at the University of Rochester Medical Center have found a new healing power for spinal injuries! The blue dye that can be found in M&M's and Gatorade. Apparently, when introduced into the body immediately after a spinal injury, it blocks the effects of ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which hinders the bodies ability to heal. Great news!
There's just one side effect... it turns the lab rats blue. Temporarily.
Sing the Blue Rat Blues with me now...


True Story!! Read all about it at CNN!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Wandering Into A Bath ~ Destination Thirteen

Congratulations Vanilla! She won the latest point in the Wandering game! Excellent work!
We were indeed visiting the Skeleton Coast of Namibia, and if you haven't checked this haunted ruin of a graveyard out, it's well worth a look!

Current points:

Michelle: Bleeding Espresso 4 points
Rel: Under The Microscope 2 points
Hearts: Guilty With An Explanation 2 points
Lee: Dancing Crow 2 points
Vanilla: Absolute Vanilla 1 point

As soon as Vanilla found us, we were off again!
Viaggiatore and I have turned and gone in the opposite direction, to go have a very special bath!

Destination Thirteen~

Between the Ankh and the Crescent, a former capital city where every ruler built his own palace.
The bath of the first is now filled but once a year.
Once an emporer's bath, it is now a shrine.

What have we gone to see?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wandering Into Sand & Sea ~ Destination Twelve

We are wandering off again!

Congratulations to Lee of Dancing Crow, who won the last point! Great job! That was a tough one. The scores now stand as follows: Michelle (Bleeding Espresso) has 4 points, Heart in SF (Guilty With An Explanation) has 2 points, Rel (Under the Microscope) has 2 points and Lee (Dancing Crow) has tied them with 2 points! Fantastic work everyone!

If you haven't started playing then join in! We have a long way to go and right now the possibilities are wide open! Viaggiatore (the lion on the beach at the top of the page) and I are wandering around the world throughout the year 1893. Everything that we are seeing will either have been invented, discovered or existed by that year. At the end of the journey, whoever has the most points (earned by guessing where we are or whom or what we've gone to see) will win The Wanderer's Treasure Bag!

Viaggiatore and I love the sea. But we're not quite there yet... where have we gone now?

Destination Twelve ~

By an ocean of water and still it is sear.
A cemetery of ships too far from the waves.
A very deep beach.

**extra hints**

We are south of Angola... and it is very dangerous here. There is but one way into these foggy gates of hell and no way out.

Good luck!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wandering South ~ Destination Eleven

Welcome Lee of Dancing Crow (go check out the photos; they are fantastic!), and well done on winning the latest point! Keep trying and give these fine folks a run for the prize! Michelle at Bleeding Espresso has 4 points, Heart in SF at Guilty With An Explanation has 2 points, as does Rel at Under the Microscope - 2 points, and Lee of Dancing Crow now has one. Great job, everyone! There is more to be done...

We've left the Mediterranean, and now Viaggiatore and I are heading south, just a little, we will be wandering across a great continent! Now we are looking for a common thing the world over, but in a very special and specific place.

Follow the clues and find out where we've gone to now! Earn the point and you're one step closer to winning The Wanderer's Treasure Bag!

Destination Eleven ~

"And from the belt of the world, you shall bring from the highest mountain of fire, that which calms a fever"

What are we seeking?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wandering Through History In Medius Terra ~ Destination Ten

Congratulations to Heart in SF! She won the latest point in the Wandering Game! The score is now as follows: Michelle at Bleeding Espresso; 4 points, Rel of Under The Microscope; 2 points, Heart in SF of Guilty with an Explanation; 2 points! Great work everyone!

If you haven't played yet, get in the game! We've got many places to go and things to see!

Viaggiatore just loves knowledge (see his book there in his photo?), so we will make one last stop in this region, before going south. Where have we gone now?

Destination Ten ~

1. The tales were rolled

2. They burned and destroyed them

3. Temples of knowledge and knowledge in temples

Best of luck!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wandering In Medius Terra & Euripus ~ Destination Nine

The Wandering Game continues... positions have shifted a bit; Michelle at Bleeding Espresso has four points, Rel at Under The Microscope has two and Heart in SF at Guilty With An Explanation has one.
See if you can catch up! The winner (after several stops around the globe) will be awarded with The Wanderer's Travel Bag! Details about that are in the first Wandering post.
Come along and play with us! Try to figure out where Viaggiatore the Shameless Lion and I have gone off to this time!

Destination Nine ~

~Dug a long ditch for a shorter sail

...Sue is here.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Brief Interlude ~ With A Katana

Congratulations to Rel of Under The Microscope! He won the latest point in the Wandering Games! There will be a new location up this afternoon... come back and play!

In the interim, here's a head turner for your entertainment:

A Sword Wielder Robs Walgreens In Glendale (as published in the Denver Post) ~

GLENDALE — A 19-year-old man held up a Walgreens in Glendale with a sword Tuesday evening.
He ran off with a cache of the painkiller Oxycontin, but he was chased down by police about a hundred yards away, according to authorities.
The man's name wasn't released pending his booking, said Glendale police Sgt. Joe Silla.
The red-haired teen, dressed in black jeans and a black T-shirt, wielded a Samurai-style sword during the 6:30 p.m. holdup, Silla said.

You know times are rough when a kid resorts to holding up a Walgreens with a sword for painkillers.

Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wandering Into Medius Terra ~ Destination Eight

Viaggiatore and I have wandered away to one of our most favorite places on the globe. We'll be in this area for a few stops.

The Wandering game has really taken off! Michelle at Bleeding Espresso now has four points, HeartinSanFrancisco from Guilty With An Explanation and Rel from Under the Microscope are tied with 1 each and 2 steps behind the mask has made several concerted efforts, for which Viaggiatore and I are quite delighted. The owners of these three blogs, by the way, are excellent writers and photographers, all three, which is one of the myriad of reasons why Viaggiatore and I love them so much. It would be worth your time to wander off to their pages to read a little, and I'd bet you'll be so glad that you did.

Life is too short to lurk. If you are reading but not playing, you are missing out. Get in the game! We've got a whole world to see, and plenty of time for everyone to make their mark! We are racing for a wonderful prize, The Wanderer's Treasure Bag! It's very special, there is only one of them in the world and we are giving it away to the winner!

So come along then, and play with us! Don't miss out!

Now then...

Destination Eight~

Sometimes as land
Sometimes as sea
Survival played out
For the entertainment
Of Emperors

Best of luck!

Passport Stamps

"You see things, and you say, Why? But I see things that never were; and I say, Why not?"
~George Bernard Shaw
Back to Methuselah 1921

Friday, June 26, 2009

Wandering High & Low ~ Destination Seven

My goodness! What a journey, and we've barely begun it!

If you haven't started playing this game, GET GOING & START! There's plenty of time! Here's the gist of it:

Viaggiatore and I are wandering around the world in the year 1893. Everyone, everything and every place we are visiting will have existed up to or in this year.

Everyone is competing for the Wanderer's Treasure Bag! See the first Wandering post for the wonderful surprises within it!

Michelle at Bleeding Espresso is hot on our tails! She has 3 points, Heart in SF and Rel from Under the Microscope have 1. Get in the game and see what you can come up with!

Viaggiatore and I saw the Black Prince's Ruby in the UK... now we've wandered just a little ways south, and UP!

Destination Seven ~

1. The high crossroads, as on the hinge of an oyster...

2. Titled to two yet governing itself

3. Three valleys granted by Charlemagne's charter

....and an extra hint, because this one is tricky...

~Near the mountainous home of a mountain of a dog...

Good luck!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wandering Westward ~ Destination Six

The game is afoot! Michelle of Bleeding Espresso has 2 points, Heart in SF has 1 and Rel from Under the Microscope also has 1! Very exciting thusfar!

Viaggiatore and I have left the Taj Mahal and have headed west! Please remember that we are wandering throughout the year 1893...

What in the world have we gone to see now?

Destination Six~

1. A ruby that isn't, for a king who never was

2. Lost and found,

3. Now displayed in Great State

Good luck!!


We are in Great Britain... what special thing have we gone to see?

Wandering Through India ~ Destination Five

The game is on! Michelle of Bleeding Espresso is currently in the lead with 2 points to her credit, and Heart in SF is right behind her with 1. Let's see what changes! If you haven't played yet, get in the game!

Viaggiatore and I are off again, to our last destination in India. We've made it a little more challenging this time... to find the clues, you have to complete the crossword puzzle. Once done, the words in the puzzle will lead to you our location!

Where in the world have Viaggiatore and I gone?


1. Devotion of heart

2. 3rd rock

3. Tribute


1. Amazement

2. Sleep

3. Harmony

4. Tomb

**A word of caution**

You must provide the location ~with~ all the words in the puzzle to win this point!

Good Luck!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wandering Photo Album

Wandering the world is getting exciting! The game continues...
The next destination will be up a little later today! Come back, read the clues and see if you can figure out where Viaggiatore and I have wandered off to now!
You must remember that we started in the year 1893....

A quick look back at where we've been so far:
We stopped to visit Jack London while he was in the Yukon looking for gold!
We headed north into Canada to see this wonder of transportation, the Featherstonaugh Car; the first electric automobile.
Sadly, this 1893 original was the first and last of its kind for a *very* long time.
We trekked to the Holy Cave of Amarnath
to see this: ice Shiva Lingam which waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon!
Then we visited Potala Palace, which is the true home of the Dalai Lama, although he hasn't lived there since 1959. It is an incredible place!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wandering In India - Destination Four

The sojourn continues, as Viaggiatore and I leave the Holy Cave of Amarnath and head off to our next destination. So far, the game is tied; HeartinSanFrancisco and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso have each gotten one point towards winning the Wanderer's Treasure Bag!

There are many stops along this journey, and many opportunities to win! Come and play!

Use the clues to discover where Viaggiatore and I have gone this time!

Destination Four~

1. Masterless monastic brothers abode

2. The Ocean Teachers true sanctuary

3. Nestled among a triumvirate of guardians

Where have we gone to now?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Wandering Off To India ~ Destination Three

The game continues! Viaggiatore and I have left Canada and are now headed off to India! Use the clues to find out where we have gone, and earn a point towards winning the Wanderers Treasure Bag!

For more details on the game, take a quick peek at this post.

Destination Three:

1. Shravan has come and the sojourn begins

2. In lunar cadence does the rime wax and wane

3. Divergent paths through mountain and valley converge at the heights of heaven

...and an extra hint, because this one is tricky:

Shrine of the cold triumvirate, beyond the five rivers...

Good luck!!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Esprit de Corps of Muses

It is Viaggiatore's 2nd birthday!


My goodness, has it been two years already? My how time flies.
Two years ago, Seamus offered up 48 lions for adoption; an act that made both the adopter and the lion, members of The Shameless Lions Writing Circle. So began a journey of friendship, writing and travel for Viaggiatore and I.

Viaggiatore is my muse, my inspiration, and always my delight. He has never failed to bring a genuinely happy smile to my face every time I see him. We have written quite a bit, traveled so many places and met several wonderful friends. Time is continually improving our bond, moment by moment.

He is, to me, the 10th Muse.

There were nine, originally, according to ancient Greek mythology. He's in the good company of these ladies:

Calliope: she is the muse of epic poetry, her emblem is the writing tablet.

Clio: is the muse of history, and her emblem is the scroll.

Erato: who is the muse of lyric poetry, symbolized by the cithara.

Euterpe: the muse of music (which is also the etymology of that word), and whose emblem is the aulos.

Melpomene: the muse of tragedy; she carries the tragic mask.

Polyhymnia: the muse of choral poetry, whose symbol is the veil.

Terpsichore: she is the muse of dance, and her emblem is the lyre.

Thalia: the muse of comedy who carries the comic mask.

Urania: the muse of astronomy, whose emblems are the globe and compass (she is our favorite of the nine, of course).

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Wandering ~ Destination Two

Congratulations Heart In San Francisco for getting the first one! Excellent!

We are off to the second destination... please keep in mind, we are still in 1893. Viaggiatore and I heard of a marvelous creation that we absolutely must go see. What is it?

Destination Two

1. Ecologically the best idea still, to get over around or through the hill

2. Two to a bench, and charged, fifteen before she died

3. With bells and whistles for a comfortable ride

Best of luck!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Wandering Games With Scarlett & Viaggiatore

We are going to play a travel game!

Viaggiatore and I have decided to begin wandering again. We are going to wander through the world in and after the year 1893... the year of the Chicago Worlds Fair; The World's Columbian Exposition.

We're going to make a game of it... please play along and try to figure out where we are, who we are visiting or what we've found!

We'll be wandering for several weeks, making many stops. We'll leave 3 clues at each destination for you to figure out. So there will be plenty of opportunities to play!

The blogger that has offered the most correct answers will win our Wanderer's Treasure Bag at the end of the journey!

The Wanderer's Treasure Bag contains the following:

1. One Compass - for use in finding your way
2. Around the World in 80 Days - Jackie Chan movie, for good laughs & world wide adventure
3. One World Map - new or antique, your choice
4. One travel mug for refreshment along the journey
5. One travel bag in which to carry it all

Have fun and GOOD LUCK!!!

I will offer hints, if you get stuck in a rut along the way...

Destination One!
Viaggiatore and I have gone to visit a friend... in 1893... whom have we gone to see?


1. "Do not waste your days by trying to prolong them, but rather, use your time!"

2. A razzle dazzle oyster pirate who sealed his fate with Sophie

3. A Dawson digger, mining the mind, his golden words so far from kind

Okay! Let's see who can figure this first one out...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Walking Through Echoes Of The Past

There will be quite a bit of metaphorical reference in this one. Suspend your disbelief for a bit and walk with me on this incredible journey.


The purpose of the trip was to trace my family's history and heritage back as far as I could, to photograph and document the lands and places that they existed in, to reach back through time and history and make a connection that all my living family and our children's children could keep; so that our past will never be lost again. It's important to know where we came from.

Paris was en route, and it was so lovely... it was a beautiful dream. Scotland was an entirely different world.

We arrived late in the night and traveled by bus from the airport into the dark city. We might have been in a time traveling vehicle, as it seemed to be an anachronism; the only thing from this century that we could see in the world around us. Old stone walls and buildings, dim street lamps, narrow lanes and round-abouts, a winding twisting ride that eventually brought us to the center of the city, at the feet of an enormous fortress that loomed over us and glowed like a beacon in the blackness; Edinburgh Castle.

Morning's light found us in our bed and breakfast; a large old stone house, kept by a very kind couple. The city morphed into a slightly more modern machine during the day. We were served (every morning for the duration of the trip), a "Full Scottish Breakfast" which consists of sausage, an enormous slab of ham, eggs, cut tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms, red beans, cereal/porridge, fruit, toast (more toast?), and haggis & black pudding (if we were so inclined, and we were not), with coffee, juice, and tea. It is delicious, it is monstrously huge, it is serious protein, and a heart attack on a plate. We loved it!

We got our car after breakfast... the steering wheel is on the right side (passenger side in the states) of the car. It was a standard transmission; 5 speed, so fifth gear and reverse are next to the drivers left knee. I did all the driving. It was a bit terrifying unnerving, getting back to the B&B from the rental car place, where I needed to gather my wits before driving off all over the country. Mr. Black was an excellent co-pilot. I don't know how I'd have made it around without his patience and assistance. I did get the hang of it, after the second day, and it became fun then!
Our goals in focus, maps and plans at the ready, we took off to delve back hundreds and hundreds of years into the history of my forebears.

Our first priority was Scone Palace, where a special tribute to the Royal Stewart family was being performed. I must take a moment to thank Miss Pamela Lawrence from Scone Palace, without whose invaluable aide, we'd have had a much more difficult time. She has earned a sainthood from us for her kindness and extremely helpful advice.
Scone Palace is where the Kings of Scotland were crowned, at a little stone seat (the Stone of Destiny) in front of a tiny chapel. The chapel and the Stone of Destiny (or rather, a replica of it), are still there.

I sat on the stone, in the place where four of my great-grandfathers were crowned Kings of Scotland, and it was a humbling, reverent experience. I gazed out over the castle grounds and at the walls of the castle; where they looked, where they walked, where they stayed briefly. My feet rested on the ground that they stood on. Time began to fade then, and with every breath the shadows clouding the centuries between us evaporated like the Scottish fog burning off in the light of day.

The air in Scotland is cool and damp, and strange as it may seem, it is invigorating. We were both filled with an excited energy that ignited a love in us for this country and its people that will never fade. The fog and rain come and go as do the tides that wash up on the shores there. The sun plays hide and seek, and just when you think it's gone, it dances out gloriously scintillating and colors the air with rainbows.

I felt the thickness of time around me; like it hadn't gone anywhere at all, it just kept happening and filling space around the land, without end. Every place that we went and every step that I took felt like walking through ages where there was no barrier to separate them from each other and from me as I made my way in and through those moments.

We visited some new friends in Peebles and had a wonderful, albeit much too brief, time with them. They showed us Melrose Abbey, where the heart of King Robert the Bruce is buried. He told his men when he died, to carry his heart to the holy land as they joined the crusades and to bury it there in the holy temple, but the quest failed and his men brought his heart back to Scotland and there it lies now, in the quiet green ground under the towering ruins of Melrose Abbey. I knelt at the monument over my great-grandfathers heart, and 18 generations & 680 years fell away like leaves in the fall. My hands on the monument, I thought of the heart that lay beneath it, and of the man to whom it belongs. My heart pushes his blood through my body. I exist because he did. I breathed in the air around me as well as the endless moment, suspended as it was, in time.

Melrose Abbey is amazing, it is beautiful, and it is enormous; I tried to imagine what it looked like before it was destroyed by humanity and the ages. It is sacred to me for the simple reason that it holds such a precious part of my ancestry.

From Melrose, we went on to Flodden Field. Our friends told us, Scarlett, it is but a field... in the middle of nowhere... really, it's just a field. I know, I said with a smile, but I have to go, it's part of the journey. Another of my great-grandfathers died in battle there; Duncan Campbell. I must go. And we went.

Flodden Field is in England. Crossing the Scottish and English border is much like crossing a state line in the US. There's a small sign, and by small I mean maybe 3 feet by 4 feet. 'You are now entering England'. Flodden Field, site of the Battle of Flodden, is tucked away down an old winding country dirt road, one that twists and bends past farms and meadows and the odd fence. There is a tiny old country church at the base of the hill. At the top of the hill is a concrete Celtic cross, probably about 6 feet tall, maybe a little more. We parked and walked through a narrow wooden gate to the stairs that lead up to the top of the hill.

It is a field, and then it is absolutely not at all. Standing there in the clean, quiet country breeze, we could see all the world around us, and the dirt and grass at our feet. We could feel the peace that is there now, blanketing the sounds of battle that seem to echo just out of reach... the shouts of men, the clang of armour and weapons, the cries of desperation... how much blood spilled into that soil? The blood of 12,000 men; one of them another reason that I am alive and was standing where he had fallen. I wondered what he might have thought on his last day, marching across that land, wondering if he would live or die. How powerful that must have been... every sense heightened, every emotion racing through every fiber of his being at it's utmost capacity... and then it was lost, all of it, and he was gone.
The loss of life there and the ensuing peace is tangible. It can be felt through the body, mind, and soul, it can be sensed in the air and on the wind. I will never, ever forget what it felt like to be there.

We visited Stirling Castle, which is now a tourist stop overlooking Bannockburn Field, where a larger war was fought by my great-grandfather King Robert the Bruce, and where, just on the other side of the field, the Wallace monument looks on the castle. Stirling is a fortress, just like Edinburgh Castle. High on a hill, almost impenetrable... they really knew how to build them back then. It is the jewel of the city, rising above it all. It is very well kept up, and has seen changes over the centuries since my grandfathers walked through its halls.

Edinburgh Castle is much the same as Stirling; so very old a structure but one that is updated and hosts throngs of sightseers every day. There are hints and remnants of my family's history here and there; emblems of their coats of arms color the glass in the windows, and paintings of those arms adorn some of the walls. It is incredible to walk past the heavily guarded display of the crown, the kings sword, and the (possibly) real Stone of Destiny that are safely secured under glass and watchful eye. They are stunning, breathtaking in their strength, size, and grandeur. These are pretty artifacts in my mind, not a soul binding connection to the men that used them, and that connection is what I was after on this sojourn.

I found the most significant connection at Dunfermline Abbey. King Robert the Bruce's heart is buried in Melrose, but his body is buried at Dunfermline. It is also the place where my favorite great-grandfather, King James I of Scotland was born. Again I knelt, this time at the foot of my great-grandfather's tomb. It is a beautiful tomb made of red marble background, inlaid with his image in shining gold. There is a little plaque there, requesting... 'please do not touch'. I did so much more than touch. Just as it was at Melrose, every shroud between us vanished, and there we were, the two of us; he and I... seeming to regard each other in this space without walls, without boundaries or confines or laws of time and place. It was surreal, it was breathtaking and inexplicable.

Mr. Black and I visited many places in Edinburgh, including The Elephant House where JK Rowling began Harry Potter's life, and the Balmoral Hotel where she ended the tale. We had a fantastic time dancing at the coolest club I've ever been in, Frankenstein's, next door to The Elephant House. We were dumbfounded that we could not seem to find a Scottish restaurant for dinner anywhere in the country! They are big on foreign food; we had Chinese two nights, Mexican one night, Indian one night, and a delicious version of chic American one night. We filled up on the full Scottish breakfast every morning though, so it kind of worked out.

We spent one night at our new favorite bed & breakfast, just up the coast in Stonehaven, because I wanted to sleep by the sea. We were about 10 feet from the sand and waves, I couldn't have been closer unless I'd been in a boat. This was a perfect place to stay, our hosts there were absolutely delightful and so sweet that we didn't want to leave at all. We loved the little seaside town, with its cobblestone streets and old stone buildings. The ocean mist on our skin and the salt of the sea on our lips was delicious. We stood on our patio in the dark of night with a blanket wrapped around us for warmth against the storm that was tossing the sea into a tempest, and watched the swelling waves crash into the rocks and shore for a long while. I spoke Edgar Allen Poe's poem, Annabel Lee, and I'd have stayed the entire night out in the misty fog, hypnotized by the pulsating tide, if Mr. Black hadn't gently urged me back into our room.

When our plane lifted off from Edinburgh airport and flew over the lands end where the Atlantic Ocean washes its shores, I wept. Mr. Black and I both wanted nothing more than to stay there in that lovely country filled with the very kindest souls, daffodils as far as the eye could see, cool misty air, old castles and ages upon ages of history... but reality insisted that we come back here, where we can dream about that other world when we sleep, and find ourselves back in the arms and heart of that country again.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Twilight Reminiscing

The photos from the adventure have been posted.

The stories remain to be told, like secret jewels tucked away in safe pockets that I pull out a few at a time, to hold in my hand, to touch softly and turn over and over, re-examining every aspect of them... and I will share some of these lovely gems with you.


Mr. Black and I saw and did just about everything in Paris. Almost everything I didn't do the last time I saw Paris... I am still wandering through these memories every single day, so lovely are they, and so absolutely treasured.

We walked through Montmartre and climbed the steps to Sacre Coeur. When we reached the top, we watched the sun setting and I made that photo of the Eiffel Tower in the pink light of days end. We wandered through the basilica, looking at every detail and immersing ourselves in its beauty. We ate in a little bistro just a block away from the basilica, and the musicians there indulged my request for "La Vie En Rose"... in French, which I've never heard before. When we left, we stopped to watch the Eiffel Tower shimmering and sparkling like a diamond at the top of the hour.

A violin player (you'll see him in the Paris post) was very sweet and played "Con Te Partiro (time to say goodbye)" by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman for us, when I stopped to photograph him. We rode carousels, made new friends, walked in awe and reverence through St. Chappelle (which is my favorite chapel in the world), and through the halls of Notre Dame. We had lunch at a little outdoor cafe in the Latin Quarter and suffered a truly snobby Parisian waiter, we walked along the Seine in the early afternoon light, past the pyramid at the Louvre, through the Tuileries, and barely escaped the traffic around the Concorde with our meager lives. We made wishes in countless fountains and admired the grandeur and loveliness of Paris. Two hours in line at the Eiffel Tower was no sacrifice at all for the moment that we stepped out onto the top level and watched the sun set over Paris from that breathtaking vantage point.

Mr. Black and I wandered through the Musee D'Orsay and marveled at the works there, and then I introduced him to Mona Lisa and a few corners of the Louvre. We wandered the city of lights in the evenings, up and down the Champs Elysees and throughout so many neighborhoods.

We left footprints in the gardens and hall of the Palace of Versailles, looking, laughing, enraptured, taking it all with us as we walked away. There was a very special dinner cruise down the Seine in a glass boat, and we saw the city all over again in a whole new light, and it was completely different and utterly amazing. We stood in wonderment and gazed at the glory of the Palais Garnier; the old opera house, when it is flooded with light at night, which is nothing short of stunning... and then we walked all the way around it, to see it from every angle.

Paris captured our hearts and held us spellbound with its beauty, mystery and treasures. We didn't want to leave at all, but on the way out of the city, she gave us one last sweet gift. I'd been on a quest to hear someone play "La Vie En Rose" on an accordion (both trips, hadn't happened), when lo and behold, our train was almost at the airport when I looked at Mr. Black and said, "That was almost perfect. Just one thing... where's my musician to walk through the train car and play this song for me on his accordion?" ...and not a minute later, a man walked into our train car with an accordion and played my song for me.

"...hold me close and hold me fast, the magic spell you cast, this is la vie en rose... when you kiss me, heaven sighs, and though I close my eyes, I see la vie en rose... when you press me to your heart, I'm in a world apart, a world where roses bloom... and when you speak, angels sing from above, every day words seem to turn into love songs... give your heart and soul to me, and life will always be la vie en rose..."

We'll walk in centuries old footsteps through Scotland soon...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

At Home In Scotland

I'm glad that I have the photographs, because somehow the entire adventure seems like a dream. Was it real?

Sir Walter Scott memorial in downtown Edinburgh

Stained glass window looking over the tomb of King Robert the Bruce

Dunfermline Abby was the birthplace of my 15th (and favorite!) Great-Grandfather, King James I of Scotland.

The tomb of my 18th Great-Grandfather, King Robert the Bruce, at Dunfermline Abby

Stonehaven is taking proposals for speed limits on their highway... so, what do you think? I think 100 is fine!

Viaggiatore meets a Scottish lion, guarding the grounds at Edinburgh Castle

Statue of King Robert the Bruce at Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle



Stirling Castle and a memorial to King Robert the Bruce

Stirling defense

The Jetson mobile parked at Stirling Castle (yes it only has 1 door and 3 tires)

Path to Stirling Castle

Springtime in Scotland

Park anywhere you like, any way you like.

A beautiful Scottish sunset on the road back to Edinburgh

Flodden Field in England, where the Battle of Flodden took place, and where one of my Great-Grandfathers, Duncan Campbell, died in battle on 9 Sep, 1513, along with 10,000 others.

A river bridge between Melrose Abbey and Flodden Field

Melrose Abbey where the heart of King Robert the Bruce, my 18th Great-Grandfather, is buried.

I wanted a rainbow in Scotland and I got one! Welcome to Peebles!

"A noble heart may have no peace if freedom fail" inscripted on the memorial over the resting place of the heart of King Robert the Bruce, my 18th Great-Grandfather

Melrose Abby, where the heart of King Robert the Bruce rests

Bridge to Scone Palace

Scone Palace, crowning site of Scottish Kings

There is a garden star shaped maze at Scone Palace; this fountain is at its center

An albino peacock in the gardens at Scone Palace

The Stone of Destiny in front of the chapel at Scone Palace, where four of my Great-Grandfathers were crowned Kings of Scotland

The ocean in Stonehaven on a stormy rainy morning

Mr. Black in New York

The Empire State Building

My friend Jackie asked me to bring her back a Scottish gent...

Triple Deckers...