Volume 21 #5
The Scottish Country Dancer
March/April 2005

Articles in This Issue
Making Memories To A Mouse
Our Gaelic Connection Dinner Dance Artists and Their CDs!
Burns Night Supper Extols the Virtues of a Mouse Calendar of Events
Making Memories
by Susan Shaw, Dinner Dance Chair

The 20th Anniversary February Dinner Dance in Vancouver featured many traditions that have made this dance a favorite. These included attention to preparation details by Van Meter Hord and Marge Van Nus as well as good food, lots of live music from Celtic harp, bagpipes, fiddles and piano, and camaraderie that stretches back to the very first dance in 1986.

This year we played with a few new ideas. For starters, we had a professional sound system that allowed our diners to enjoy Jennifer Pratt-Walter's enchanting Celtic harp performance. If you didn't get to hear these hauntingly beautiful melodies, you may want to give a listen to Jennifer's new CD called Celtic Muse.

The dinner was a most memorable meal, with both turkey and ham, and a wide variety of salads, side dishes, and vegetarian main dishes. We enjoyed Valérie Moore's centerpieces featuring photos of past dinner dances, complete with top hats and feather boas. Between bites of dessert, many took time to review a large number of pictures and scrap books depicting memorial moments of the past 20 years of Scottish Country Dancing in Vancouver and beyond (like two tours to Japan).

Before the dancing began, all of our musicians and most of the dancers were professionally photographed by Bonnie Swenson. Before long, each received a finished photo to take home. Many thanks to Tom Halpenny, who provided the computer and printer set up, and to Peder Swenson, who printed the photos. Pictures of poised and happy people STANDING STILL are so much more satisfying than photos of blurred dancers, which we also have.

Everyone received a "memory keeper" for this 20th Anniversary, which had a place for a photo as well as a place to record the partner's name for each dance. This was a new/old idea that was fun to try.

Susan Worland, Linda Danielson, and Lisa Scott

Just a handful of visitors came to watch the family dancing and the Grand March, so ably led by piper Angus Martin and directed by our Grand Marshall, Fred Van Nus. The best part, of course, was the music and dancing. The music was wonderful, thanks to fiddlers Susan Worland (from San Francisco's Fiddlesticks and Ivory band) and our own Linda Danielson, along with our pianist extraordinaire, Lisa Scott. These three worked wonders, providing us some of the best dance music ever! We're glad that Tim Root provided the sound system. The dances themselves were drawn from previous dinner dance programs and included some of our very favorites. Our briefers, Liza Hapenny, Linda Mae Dennis, Sally Bledsoe, Geri Stuart, and John Shaw, lead us to successfully danced sets.

We took intermission to recognize when people first started coming to the dinner dances. Would you believe that everyone there had a 'first dance' experience? In gratitude for making these 20 years of dancing possible, Fred and Marge Van Nus were presented with a pair of dancing gnomes to add to Fred's collection. I hope you get a chance to read the words to a dance called "Admirable Fred," written and devised by Linda Mae Dennis, which celebrates the many activities Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers have done with Fred.

We look forward to the next twenty years of dancing and making memories and hope you can join us many times over. Thanks to everyone for contributing to the success of this 20th Anniversary dance.

Our Gaelic Connection
by Martin MacKenzie

Fàilte gu ar chlas dhannsa! (Welcome to our dance class!)

If English had not been so successful as a language, you might hear that if you went to an RSCDS class in Scotland and possibly other places in the world. However, frank persecution and cultural pressures have relegated the Gaelic language to small sections of the Highlands and the Hebridian Islands. (My Gaelic teacher remembers his older brothers being beaten for speaking Gaelic at school, which beatings he fortunately escaped.) Many of us have ancestry that goes back to Gaelic speaking immigrants. Our dance mentor, Marge MacLeod Van Nus, remembers hearing Gaelic spoken by relatives "when she was young" (nuair a bha i òg). Often, the dances we do will have Gaelic melodies in them which I recognize from time to time.

How would you pronounce Fàilte gu ar chlas dhannsa? Very approximately like this: "fallcha goo awr chlas thownsa".

So, let's learn a little bit.

A Gaelic speaker would refer to his or her native language as Gàidhlig. It would be roughly pronounced "Gaaal-lick", with a "short a". The Gàidhlig alphabet has only eighteen letters in it. The J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, and Z letters are not present in Gàidhlig. Many of the sounds produced by the remaining letters would be familiar to English speakers, though some of them would not. For example, most of the time an "i" in Gàidhlig will produce a pronounced long "e" sound although there are exceptions. Mar eisimpleir, am facal "Gàidhlig" -- for example the word "Gàidhlig." And most of the time an "e" will produce a pronounced long "a" sound as in "place."

Uill, tha e ceart gu leòir airson a-nis -- well, that's enough for now.

Chi mi a h-uile duine a dh'aithghearr! -- I'll see you all soon! (pronounced roughly "chee me ahua dune-ya a gyaghahr".)

Burns Night Supper Extols the Virtues of a Mouse
by Tom Halpenny

The Fort Vancouver Pipe Band

The public flocked to the Mouse Lodge ... I mean Moose Lodge, to witness our second annual Burns Night Supper on Saturday January 22nd. The Fort Vancouver Pipe Band and Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers presented the celebration of Robert Burns, Scotland's poet laureate, born January 25, 1759.

Tim McClaren was the Master of Ceremonies for the event. Ross Robertson presented the Address to the Haggis. John and Grace Donnelly were the Guests of Honor. Charles Anderson presented the Immortal Memory of Robert Burns. Pete Woodall presented the humorous Toast to the Lassies, then wife Karen replied with the Reply to the Laddies.

wee tim'rous beastie

Guests were treated to a "Mouse" theme at the tables. Decoration chair Linda Mae Dennis designed a triangular centerpiece for each table of Robert Burns and two of his poems, including "To A Mouse", which reflects on Man's relationship with nature. A mouse with kiwi body, ears of almond slices, whiskers of pine needles, eyes of cloves, and a yarn tail was placed next to a plate of cheese cubes for the guests to nibble before dinner.

The Haggis was piped in on a tartan stretcher with great fanfare. Ross Robertson delivered a rousing toast to the Haggis, and the guests sampled the spicy delicacy. There was even a vegetarian version of haggis available.

After dinner, fiddlers Suzanne Gay and Frodo Okulum entertained the audience of 140 guests. Lora Nelson demonstrated her Highland dancing skills, accompanied by piper Annette Allen. Lora's mother Rachael was in our SCD class a couple years ago.

Our SCD performance team treated the audience to a 5-dancer Shepherd's Crook and their newest medley of three dances. The audience enthusiastically enjoyed being invited to dance in a string of long-wise sets that extended the length of the room.

The pipe band filled the room with its melodious tunes. Our own Linda Mae Dennis and Patrick Hogan are now band members and added to the rhythmic drumming.

Among the winners of the popular raffle for 28 prizes donated by local businesses was nine-year old Alena who won a gift certificate to Renaissance Ice Cream for four. Alena was one of a party of thirteen that her grandmother sponsored at the Burns Supper. Another winner, Marie Morrison, gave one of the three raffle items she won, a gift certificate from Cheshire Cat Tea Room, to a 100-year-old woman from her church.

The evening concluded with singing the traditional Auld Lang Syne in a large amoebic circle around the room.

Many thanks to all who helped plan this successful event. Fred van Nus was the overall chair. Marge van Nus chaired the entertainment. Linda Mae chaired the decorations. Liza Halpenny chaired the audience participation dancing. Geri Stuart chaired the bakers of the tasty shortbread enjoyed by guests, as well as the performance team dancing.

To A Mouse
by Robert Burns

On turning her up in her nest, with the plough, November, 1785

    Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim'rous beastie,
    O, what panic's in thy breastie!
    Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
    Wi' bickering brattle!
    I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
    Wi' murd'ring pattle!
    I'm truly sorry Man's dominion
    Has broken Nature's social union,
    An' justifies that ill opinion,
    Which makes thee startle,
    At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
    An' fellow-mortal!
    I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
    What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
    A daimen-icker in a thrave 'S a sma' request:
    I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
    An' never miss't!
    Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
    It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
    An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
    O' foggage green!
    An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
    Baith snell an' keen!
    Thou saw the fields laid bare an' wast,
    An' weary Winter comin fast,
    An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
    Thou thought to dwell,
    Till crash! the cruel coulter past
    Out thro' thy cell.
    That wee-bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
    Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
    Now thou's turn'd out, for a' thy trouble,
    But house or hald.
    To thole the Winter's sleety dribble,
    An' cranreuch cauld!
    But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane,
    In proving foresight may be vain:
    The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men,
    Gang aft agley,
    An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
    For promis'd joy!
    Still, thou art blest, compar'd wi' me!
    The present only toucheth thee:
    But Och! I backward cast my e'e,
    On prospects drear!
    An' forward, tho' I canna see,
    I guess an' fear!

Dinner Dance Artists and Their CDs!
Linda Danielson has made a CD!

Its title is "A Celtic Holiday," and it consists of nine tracks of Scottish, Irish, and Welsh songs and instrumental tunes (Linda on fiddle, and Chico Schwall on voice, guitar and octave mandolin). There is also a reading by actor David Stuart Bull of Dylan Thomas's story, "A Child's Christmas in Wales," with a "live" musical soundtrack played by Chico and Linda. They have presented the story with varying musical programs for the past eighteen years in several restaurant and theatre venues around Eugene.

The cost is $15 per copy, including shipping. The CD is high quality, manufactured by Sony. The CDs can be ordered from Linda Danielson, 195 E 38th, Eugene OR 97405.

And a new CD from Jennifer Pratt-Walter

"Ancient Muse" is the title of her new CD. From the jacket: Step through a sonorous portal to the past with Celtic harp and Friends. Experience song from Ancient Greece to the Middle Ages, from the Nordic lands to the green British Isles to the shores of early America, linking distant times to a new resonance of unity and understanding through song. Music is like that...

You can contact Jennifer at for purchasing information or with any questions.


Calendar of Events

Mar 12: Portland RSCDS 26th Annual Workshop and Ball
At the Masonic Friendship Center, 5625 NE Alameda Street, Portland, OR 97213

Eileen Hsu, Seattle, WA
Alan Twhigg, Mountain View, CA

Calista McKasson
Ryan McKasson, of Tacoma, WA

    Registration    9:30 - 10:00
    Classes        10:00 - 12:00
    Lunch          12:15 - 1:15
    Classes         1:15 - 2:45
    Combined Class  3:00 - 4:00
                  up to Feb 28   After
    Workshop/Ball          $40   45
    Workshop only           22   27
    Ball Only (dancer)      20   25
    Ball Only (non-dancer)        5
Ball Program:
    Mrs. Stewart's Jig  RSCDS
    Catch the Wind      Island Bay Coll.
    Moment of Truth     RSCDS
    Fisherman's Reel    Dunblane Holiday
    Teacher's Choice
    Happy Meeting               RSCDS
    Miss Gibson's Strathspey    RSCDS
    Teacher's Choice
    Macleod's Fancy             RSCDS
    Wisp of Thistle             RSCDS
    An Officer and a Gentleman  The Ft. Worden Decennial
    Laird of Milton's Daughter  RSCDS
    The Silver Thistle          RSCDS
    St. John's River            The New Brunswick Coll.
    The Cranberry Tart          The Seven Year Itch
    De'il Amang the Tailors     RSCDS
For more info, contact:
Debbie McRobert 503-620-3034
Linda Gertz 503-692-5963
April 9: Portland SCD Dance Party
7:30 pm, Tigard Grange 13770 SW Pacific Hwy., Tigard.
April 22: Alasdair Fraser Concert!
Alasdair Fraser in concert with the San Francisco Fiddlers, Aladdin Theater, Portland, 8pm.
For more info, call: (541) 385-7127
May 7: Vancouver USA SCD Spring Dance
Marshall Community Center, Oak/Elm Rooms
1009 E. McLoughlin Blvd., Vancouver, WA, 8-11pm
The program:
    Blue Bonnets        Bk 3
    Wisp of Thistle     Bk 37
    Circassian Circle   Bk 1

    Airyhall Delight    Bk 40
    Wind on Loch Fyne   Dunedin
    Brechin Lassies     MMM I

    White Heather Jig   Cosh
    Death by Chocolate  unpublished
    The Blue Bell Reel  The Cameo Collection

    Postie's Jig
    Green Grow the Rashes  Bk 12
    The Montgomeries' Rant Bk 10
June 11: Vancouver USA SCD Summer Picnic
Lewisville Park (north of Battle Ground), at the Oak site.
More details as the emerge.
Sep 16-18: Flowers of Scotland, Fort Worden 2005
Musicians: Elke Baker (fiddle), Calum MacKinnon (fiddle), Muriel Johnstone (piano), Ralph Gordon (cello, base)
Teachers: John Middleton (Hamilton, ON), Marian Stroh (Reno, NV), Margaret Zadworny (Winnipeg, MB)
Classes: SCD classes, plus alternative classes in Old Time Sequence Dances, Medleys, and Step.
Watch for the Fort Worden application in April, or check their website for an online form: www.rscds-seattle.org

While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life.
I can only be joyful and whole. That is why I dance. -- Hans Bos

  Do you have an item of Celtic interest you would like to see in print?  
  You can contact me in any of the following ways:  
  By mail:  
  John Shaw
  PO Box 2438
  Battle Ground, WA 98604
  By email:  
  The Scottish Country Dancer is a bi-monthly publication of the Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers, a non-profit educational organization. For changes of address, please contact John Shaw, PO Box 2438 Battle Ground, WA 98604, . The editor reserves the right to alter or edit any material submitted for publication for reasons of taste, style, or clarity. All materials for publication should be sent by email to the editor at the address above, preferably in straight text. Deadline is one week before the end of the month prior to publication date. Editors of other newsletters may use or adapt any materials in the Scottish Country Dancer unless a specific copyright notice is included. Please credit author and original source.
Generated Wednesday March 02, 2005