Volume 23 #1
The Scottish Country Dancer
July/August 2006

Articles in This Issue
Manager Message Arctic Adventures in Alaska
Gaelic in English AGM Minutes
Wicked Willie Calendar of Events
Manager Message
by Tom Halpenny

Now that the Luepke Community Center SCD classes have completed, we have several SCD events planned for your summer enjoyment.

July 9 is the Summer Picnic at Lewisville Park, at the Cedar site. Please join us with your family for games and dancing in a beautiful place.

July 15 the Portand Highland Games at Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham for dancing throughout the day and lots of Scottish Culture. Several of us will be rising early for some TV programs on July 11 & 13.

July 22 Dancing in the Park will offer some casual dancing in Esther Short Park for the local community, concurrent with the Farmers Market.

July 30 International Festival in Esther Short Park will feature a Scottish Country Dance performance.

August 6 Clark County Fair will have an evening Scottish Country Dance performance for the local community. Participants receive free entrance and parking for a fun day at the fair.

The Scottish Step Dance class and Level 3 Scottish Country Dance classes continue at the Columbia Dance Studio on selected Tuesday July & August dates.

Thanks to our teachers and Board for planning these fun SCD events for your enjoyment. Have a great summer!

Gaelic in English
by Martin MacKenzie

Halò a h-uile duine! Hello everyone! In past articles, I have endeavored to introduce you to the nature, a bit of the grammar, and the history of Gàidhlig. Now, let's see how Gàidhlig has been incorporated into English from the influence of Gàidhlig speaking emigrants air feadh an t-saoghail, all over the world.

One of the most familiar to all of us is the word "galore", meaning in English presently an excess or more than plenty. In the Gàidhlig it is gu leòir, essentially meaning the same thing and actually having a very similar sound although I am unable to demonstrate that here!

The word "craig", meaning a large rock, bolder, a cliff, or a precipice, comes from creag, a feminine noun, meaning exactly the same: a large rock, crag, a precipice, or a cliff.

Everyone knows the word "glen", meaning a valley or a meadow. In the Gàidhlig it is gleann, a masculine noun, as in Gleann Baile a' Chaoil, the name of the small town near Glen Coe where my family lived in Scotland.

We may speak of the immortal "bard", Robby Burns. Well, we have crowned him as bàrd, also a masculine noun, a Gàidhlig title, pronounced slightly differently in Gàidhlig but meaning someone who is the keeper of the cultural store of a people, a poet, a singer, bringer of news, and even a shaper of the thoughts of the members of a culture.

Of course, when we get together to dance and visit we have a ceilidh or cèilidh, meaning a meeting of people usually for social reasons. But, of course we know that is "smashing" or is math sin, literally "that's good!"

Dannsa sona dhuibh! Happy dancing!

Wicked Willie
by Pat Blatt

    It was with Wicked Willie this woeful tale began
    When Willie trod the Winding Road with willful Bonnie Anne,
    Her size increased considerably, not due to Sugar Candie
    And she hastened to the Wedding with Drops of Brandy handy.
    But Willie found a New Rigged Ship, and he became a Sailor
    And voyaged to the Isle of Skye aboard a Dundee Whaler,
    And there he met a Highland Lass and made a pass at Nancy
    But Nancy Frowned and Willie found he wasn't Ladies' Fancy.
    Then Willie made suggestions to The Laird of Milton's Daughter
    And she, poor girl, fell in to doing what she didn't oughter.
    The years went by and Willie met a Yellow Haired young Laddie,
    A Happy Meeting, for he cried, "The Dueks Dang O'er My Daddie!"
    But Willie couldn't stand the thought of being someone's father,
    So he packed up his bags in haste and said Farewell to Auchterarder.
    He turned up at St. Andrew's Fair, there to Salute Miss Milligan,
    Who turned and cast him, by the right, straight in the nearest Swilcan!

There are 21 dance titles (some amended slightly) in this poem. [From the Edinburgh Branch Newsletter, winter 2005-6]

Arctic Adventures in Alaska
by Tom Halpenny

We danced on the frozen Arctic Ocean, far above the Arctic Circle where the sun shines constantly during summer. For our first visit to Alaska, Liza and Tom Halpenny had a rare opportunity to visit the interior of our largest state with 40 comrades on Ken McFarland's Alaskan Adventure Tour for two weeks in June.

Our route
Strathspey on ice

Unlike Ken's typical dancing tours, this was a nature tour for dancers. The adventure began with a flight to the southern port of Anchorage, where we boarded a train northbound across the Alaska Range to Denali National Park with the continent's tallest Mount McKinley, and continued on to centrally located Fairbanks. Shedding all but our essential belongings, we took a 2-day van tour along the Dalton Highway that parallels the Alaska pipeline, beyond the Arctic Circle to Coldfoot, then on to Deadhorse after crossing the Brooks Range onto the North Slope. From DeadHorse, we took a short bus ride to Prudhoe Bay on the National Petroleum Reserve for a short visit to the Arctic Ocean, where some inspired adventurers danced on the water's still-icy surface. We flew back to Fairbanks for several days of touring the local sites, including an evening of dance featuring five musicians, shared with Contra, English, and Scottish Country Dancers. A final bus excursion took us East just over the Canadian border to visit remote Dawson City with its gold mining history. We then returned to Anchorage over two days while viewing the majestic mountains.

Alaska is separated into three distinct zones, by the Alaskan Range to the south and the Brooks Range to the north. Ice fields and glaciers can be found in the southern zone, with plenty of rain and snow in the winter. The interior zone of rolling hills between the mountain ranges is dry most of the year, but it does get down to 50 below during the winter! We were grateful to visit in June with a very pleasant 60 degrees. The North Slope zone is very flat as it slopes toward the Arctic Ocean; this is the home of migrating caribou herds.

We had expected to view a lot of wildlife. However the creatures proved to be timid. We saw our first moose next to the Anchorage airport runway as we landed, and we viewed several more during the trip. The tour bus through Denali National Park suddenly encountered a brown bear crossing the road, which headed away in a hurry. As we headed north, we spotted a few caribou with great excitement, and later saw many more as we dropped onto the North Slope. We viewed the introduced Musk Ox herd. Once we reached the Arctic Ocean, we were assured that the polar bears had moved far to the north out to sea where they hunt seal among the pack ice.

Most of the Alaskan interior has a thin layer of soil above permanently frozen permafrost ground. The black spruce is the principal tree that is able to thrive by developing a shallow root system. New growth is promoted by periodic forest fires that are started by lightning strikes. The fire stimulates black spruce trees to release their seeds.

As we traveled the Dalton Highway, we had a continual view of the Alaskan Pipeline. The oil companies built the gravel road to support pipeline construction, and the road is heavily used today to re-supply the oilfield infrastructure at Prudhoe Bay. The pipeline carries crude oil from the North Slope oil fields down through the center of the state to the Southern port of Valdez. The oil comes out of the ground at 180 degrees and enters the pipeline at 110 degrees. The oil travels 5 miles per hour and takes 6 days to travel 800 miles. The pipeline was buried where ever practical. However, it had to be built above ground in places where there is permafrost or earthquake motion. If the insulated pipeline were buried in permafrost, it would still generate enough heat to melt the permafrost and would collapse the surrounding soil. Supports are designed to allow the pipeline to adapt to earth movement. The pipe is suspended 10 feet above ground in some places in order to allow the caribou to pass underneath.

We lodged in modular housing while visiting Coldfoot and Deadhorse. Several camps had been set up to support workers who built the Alaska Pipeline during the 1970's. Modular housing was used to shelter the workers in the camps. After pipeline construction was complete, the camps were dismantled. Some enterprising people purchased some of these modules and put together Spartan hotels at Coldfoot and Deadhorse.

The drive from Coldfoot to Deadhorse included an excursion to Wiseman, where a community of 20 residents survives off the land. Long time resident Jack Reakoff articulately described how he has thrived in the brutal winter climate by trapping animals, building log homes, collecting firewood, generating electricity via wind power, and growing his own vegetables. Jack approaches subsistence living scientifically; he is very knowledgeable and measures all kinds of data. Jack uses a laptop PC and dialup modem to educate himself and keep up with the outside world. Jack is inspirational with how much he accomplishes and has taught himself. He periodically travels to Juneau, the state capital, to testify against bills introduced to open up the Alaskan wilderness to mechanized ATV hunters.

The tour van stopped at a special marker where we crossed the Arctic Circle, at 66 degrees 33 minutes latitude. At all places north of this latitude, it is possible to see sun (or to be in darkness) for 24 hours straight. We continued to travel up to the Arctic Ocean at 70 degrees latitude.

This was our first experience with constant daylight. Liza observed the dusky daylight at 11:00pm, 1:00am, and 3:00am as the sun dipped briefly below the northern horizon and rose again a couple hours later. We seemed to have plenty of energy to do things, but Tom was frequently caught napping to the gentle motion of the bus while traveling.

Over the course of the two-week tour, we drove on most of the highways that exist in the entire state of Alaska. It was amazing to drive for hundreds of miles through unspoiled wilderness without seeing any sign of human civilization. We needed to re-acclimate once we returned to the big city. On the final leg, our coach driver Bobby noted that we had traveled 811 miles between traffic lights.

Just after we sent in the final payment before our trip, we received information to prepare for plenty of mosquitoes by spraying clothing with Permetherin and bringing Deet repellent for our skin. We came prepared. However, there was a cold snap just prior to our arrival that killed off the first crop of mosquitoes, so most of our visit was uneventful.

An interesting stop on the Fairbanks tour was a visit to Ken McFarland's hexagon-shaped house. Ken's partner Dennis has skillfully constructed many structures on the sloping wooded 3-acre property. The original objective was to view the garden that benefits from the short but productive growing season with constant sun light. However, the recent cold had killed off many plants.

We appreciated the chance to see the beauty of America's only remaining wilderness before it changes forever. We met some new dancing friends from across the USA, and even families from Australia and Puerto Rico. The air was clean and fresh and the continuous sunshine was "daylightful"!

AGM Minutes
by Van Meter Hord, Treasurer

Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers
Annual General Meeting
May 17, 2006

Manager Tom Halpenny called the annual general meeting to order on May 17, 2006 at 9:15 PM at Luepke Center.

Treasurer Van Meter Hord submitted the group's ledger and summary of expenditures and income that covered the dates of July 1, 2005 through May 17, 2006. The fiscal year runs through June 30 and in July a final ledger and summary will be submitted. As of that evening there was a total of $3,648.09, ($147.01 in petty cash and $3,501.08 in savings) for a net decrease of $743.98.

Van Meter Hord had membership applications available for the group; the membership year is July 1, 2006 through June 30, 2007. Tom Halpenny had previously sent out applications via e-mail. The combination membership for RSCDS & local is $25 per person; the local membership only is $5 per person. Van would like to have applications submitted as soon as possible for those who wish to join RSCDS.

Tom Halpenny asked for nominations for the group's board: manager, vice-manager, secretary and treasurer. The nominees were: Tom Halpenny, Manager; Valérie Moore, Vice-Manager; Linda Mae Dennis, Secretary and Van Meter Hord, Treasurer. The slate was unanimously voted into office.

Tom Halpenny gave a report summarizing what the group accomplished last year: 16 performances with an average of 11.1 dancers per event; 21st Annual Dinner/Dance; Fall and Spring dances; Health/Heart event; SCD class at HP; expanded classes through Parks & Recreation at Marshall and Firstenburg; special interest dance classes taught at Columbia Dance Studio and the 3rd annual Burns Supper Evening. With the popularity of the Burns Supper Evening, the groups may reconfigure the dates for the dinner/dance which has been in February. Tom thanked the many people who have contributed to making this past year so successful, especially to the teachers who have continued to extend their teaching of more classes and the performance team and other dancers who have participated in the year's events.

For New Business, it was mentioned that with the demise of Ghost Stories, the group has lost a good fund raiser but also the community has lost a wonderful event. If any are interested in reviving Ghost Stories, letters to the City Council are advised.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:35 PM by Tom Halpenny


Calendar of Events

July 9: Summer Picnic
The Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers are hosting a summer picnic for all our dancing friends!

Bring a potluck dish to share, games, your family, and your own tableware, to Lewisville Park (the Cedar Site), north of Battle Ground, WA., off SR 503. You can show up anytime after 11:00. Lunch at 1pm, dancing after lunch.

Water provided. Grills available.

$2 per car entrance fee.

For more information, call Tom or Liza, 360-887-1888, or Marge or Fred, 360-892-4366.
July 15: Portland Highland Games
At Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham for dancing throughout the day and lots of Scottish Culture.
July 22: Dancing in the Park
Just for Fun! Grab your ghillies and come to Esther Short Park. We're going to do some informal dancing for the local community, concurrent with the Farmers Market.
July 30: International Festival
International Festival in Esther Short Park will feature a Scottish Country Dance performance.
Aug 4-13: Clark Country Fair
At the Clark County Fairgrounds: entertainment, carnival rides, livestock exhibition. On Thursday, August 6th, there will be a performance of Scottish Country Dancing for the local community.
Aug 6-13: TAC Summer School
Did you know? TAC Summer School is open to all dancers!

New location: Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

Core Teachers: Ruth Jappy, Delta, BC; Robert McOwen, Arlington, MA; and Rebecca Blackhall-Peters, Langley, BC.

Musicians: Bobby Brown, Laird Brown, Mara Shea, Jim Stevenson-Mathews

Accommodations: Fully air-conditioned single rooms with sink and adjoining bathrooms, and fully air-conditioned dance studios, for your dancing pleasure!

Early Bird Price before May 15th: $750 Cdn, $715 US. Teacher's Discounted Price: $675 Cdn, $645 US.
Sep 8-10: Fort Worden 2006
RSCDS Seattle Branch's Annual Weekend Workshop.


Musicians: Calum MacKinnon (fiddle), Ryan Mckasson (fiddle), Cali Mckasson (piano), Ralph Gordon (cello, bass), Brian Crisafulli (fiddle), Gwen Taylor (fiddle)

Teachers: Ron Wallace (Rohnert Park, CA), Gary Thomas (Rohnert Park, CA), Elaine Brunken (Laurel, MD), Mary Murray (Vancouver, BC)

Classes: SCD classes plus alternative classes in Ladies' Step Dance, Old Time Dance, and English Country Dance.

Watch for your Fort Worden application in April, or check the website for an online form:

How was copper wire invented?
Two Scotsmen fought o'er a halfpenny.

  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.
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