national lowercase day

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

This fun “holiday”, established in 2011, plays with language in a way that makes texters happy. Today, capital letters are ignored in favor of using lowercase letters.

I’m actually one who observes traditional grammar and punctuation when I text. I did briefly consider typing this post all in lowercase, to celebrate national lowercase day. However, that thought truly was brief. As you can see, I opted for the usual.

To appreciate the day, I offer instead rules to help stop overcapitalizing. Capital letters are appropriate for specific uses, such as beginning a sentence, proper names and titles. Many writers tend to overuse them though. The following tips will help.

national lowercase day title meme

E. E. Cummings

Before posting rules to prevent overusing capital letters, I must mention poet E. E. Cummings. This man appreciated lowercase letters!

E. E. Cummings often wrote his poems all in lowercase and frequently omitted punctuation as well.

Edward Estlin Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1894. He attended high school there, where he studied Latin and Greek. He later graduated with a BA and MA from Harvard. Cummings is regarded as one of the most innovative and creative poets of his time. He experimented with poetic form and language, ultimately creating his own distinctive writing style.

Cummings used lowercase letters in his poems, along with invented words and words used in nontraditional ways. He also created visually intriguing patterns across the page with his words. By his death in 1962, E. E. Cummings was recognized as a great lyrical poet who made experimental poetry attractive to readers.

national lowercase day ee cummings
Innovative poet, E. E. Cummings would appreciate national lowercase day!
national lowercase day ee cummings poem
in honor of national lowercase day, “love is a place”, by e.e. cummings

Words to Stop Capitalizing

Using capital letters and lowercase letters correctly matters, unless, like E. E. Cummings, your writing style is considered innovative. For the rest of us, proper usage makes us look smarter and more professional and polished. Plus, the message we hope to convey comes through, without the distraction caused by misuse of capital and lowercase letters.

Here are easy to learn rules, about when to use lowercase and when to use capital letters.

national lowercase day abc

Directions

Directions such as east and west are not capitalized, unless they are used in an address. Directional words in addresses are typically abbreviated anyway.

Correct: 1234 W. Happy Street or 5678 West Highway 32

Incorrect: 1234 w. Happy Street or 5678 west Highway 32

Correct: I’m driving east on Main Street.

Incorrect: I’m driving East on Main Street.

Seasons

In the same way, seasons are written in lowercase as well, unless they are part of a title or event.

Correct: I love spring!

Incorrect: I love Spring!

Correct: I’m attending the Downtown Fall Festival Saturday.

Incorrect: I’m attending the Downtown fall Festival Saturday.

national lowercase day book of letters

Special Occasions

Words for events such as birthday, anniversary and party are not capitalized, unless they are included with someone’s name as a special occasion.

Correct: I hope you have a fun anniversary!

Incorrect: I hope you have a fun Anniversary!

Correct: You are invited to Molly’s 13th Birthday Party.

Incorrect: You are invited to Molly’s 13th birthday party.

Correct: Happy Birthday, George!

Incorrect: Happy birthday, George!

Correct: Have a happy birthday, George.

Incorrect: Have a Happy Birthday, George.

Job Titles and Careers

Job titles use lowercase, unless they come before your name.

Correct: I’m a professor at the university.

Incorrect: I’m a Professor at the university.

Correct: I’m Professor Anderson.

Incorrect: I’m professor Anderson.

Careers don’t require capital letters, typically, unless used in a title.

Correct: Bart is a writer.

Incorrect: Bart is a Writer.

Correct: Bart is attending the SW Missouri Writer’s Conference.

Incorrect: Bart is attending the SW Missouri writer’s conference.

national lowercase day alphabet

Important Sounding Words

Sometimes, to show the importance of a word, we capitalize when we should use lowercase.

Correct: I majored in business in college.

Incorrect: I Majored in Business in college.

Correct: Karen is a big supporter of pet rescue agencies.

Incorrect: Karen is a big Supporter of Pet Rescue Agencies.

Correct: Karen is a supporter of the Pet Rescue Agency of Dallas.

Incorrect: Karen is a Supporter of the pet rescue agency of Dallas.

Happy national lowercase day

Writing certainly has standardized rules. Those rules about grammar, punctuation and upper and lowercase letters help us to make sense of the words we write and read.

However, it is also true that every writer has his or her own unique style. I hope these tips help in your every day messages and social media posts, as you develop your own personal writing style.

Now, can we discuss punctuation and run on sentences?

national lowercase day poem
national lowercase day poem by e.e. cummings

Check out this website, to see how well you do using capital and lowercase letters.

www.grammarbook.com

And try this fun five sentence writing challenge!

E. E. Cummings for national lowercase day:

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Fall Checklist for the Garden

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

As temperatures dip, the cooler weather serves as a reminder that now is the time to tidy up the garden and prep for winter. Fall, with its warm days and chilly nights, provides the perfect opportunities to enjoy puttering in the garden and dreaming of next spring.

Use this handy fall checklist for the garden, to make sure your backyard paradise fares well over the winter. The reward is a beautiful outdoor space when spring arrives.

Fall Checklist for the Garden title meme

Fall Checklist for the Garden

[ ] Plant bulbs, perennials, shrubs and trees for spring color.

Fall is an excellent time to plant for spring blooms. Check out this post for a list of plants that do well with a fall planting.

[ ] Divide perennials such as hostas, irises, day lilies, sedum, coneflowers, shasta daisies and canna lilies.

Most perennials can be divided every two to three years or whenever they show signs of overcrowding. Dig up plant and using a sharp shovel, divide the root ball into two or more sections. Replant extra perennials in a new location and water well. Or, better yet, share your perennials with others. A perennial exchange is a great way to acquire new plants for free!

Fall Checklist Pumpkins
Add fall color with mums and pumpkins.

[ ] Add fall color in the garden and on the deck or front porch.

For pops of earthy color, add mums, pumpkins and gourds. Create an eye catching entry with groupings of fall flowers and pumpkins on the front porch or near the front door. This is a great way to extend color well into the season, even as flowers in the garden fade away.

[ ] Note expected first frost date and prepare to bring containers indoors.

Use this frost map to see when the first hard frost is expected in your area. Those amazing container gardens you created last spring? Make space indoors for any that will winter inside. Keep the flowers in a sunny location, trim back spent blooms and leaves, and water as needed and you’ll have containers ready to go back outdoors next spring.

Fall Checklist Rake Leaves
Those fallen leaves can provide mulch for the garden.

[ ] Rake leaves.

If you have an abundance of trees then raking leaves is a necessary garden task in the fall. Beyond creating mounds of leaves for the kids to jump into, leaves can provide mulch for the garden. Mow over the raked up leaves, with a bag attached to the mower, or use a grinder to create mulch. The leaf mulch returns vital nutrients to the soil.

[ ] Start a compost.

Use those leaves, grass clippings and garden trimmings to create a compost. Food scraps, newspapers and yard and garden waste combine, creating the perfect environment for earthworms and bacteria, which turns the waste into valuable compost for next year’s garden. Make your own bin or purchase one and fill it up. Regularly turn the contents to maintain the proper mixture and distribute heat.

Fall Checklist Create New Beds
On the fall checklist for the garden…creating new beds.

[ ] Prepare new beds for spring planting.

Now is the time to plan and lay out new beds for next spring. Prep the ground by clearing any weeds or grass in the area and spade to a depth of at least a foot. Smooth dirt and let the new bed rest over the winter. It’s much easier to plant next spring when the ground is prepped in advance.

[ ] Tidy up the garden.

This task on the fall checklist for the garden is the biggie. As plants die down, trim perennials and herbs to the ground. Pull weeds. Harvest and store flower seeds. Remove dead branches from bushes, shrubs and trees. Do not prune rose bushes or butterfly bushes until next spring however. And leave ornamental grasses until spring as well. The grasses will turn brown and yet they are still pretty to look at over the winter and provide seeds and shelter for birds. After tidying the garden, lay down a good layer of mulch.

Fall Checklist Clean Tools
This is the time to clean tools.

[ ] Clean and store garden tools.

Use soapy water and a wire brush to clean dirt from garden tools. Apply a lightweight vegetable oil to metal to prevent rusting. Sharpen blades on shovels, trowels and hoes. Store tools out of the weather.

[ ] Clean and store containers.

Check and clean containers that are not going indoors for the winter. Remove dead plants and inspect for cracks or breaks in the containers. Also check garden décor and statues for needed repairs.  I leave most of my statures and décor in the garden over the winter, for interest. However, it is a good time to toss anything that has succumbed to time and weather. I have vintage wooden chairs that my grandfather made that are being repurposed into new works of art. And another old wooden chair that I bought several years ago at a flea market is destined for the trash bin.

Using a Fall Checklist for the Garden Creates an Easier Checklist for Spring

This fall checklist for the garden is for me, as much as anyone! I have a great deal of prep work to do in my garden, after above average rainfall this summer. Plus, focusing on the blogs this year and a trip to Scotland in July means my garden is more wild than usual this fall.

I look forward, in the upcoming weeks, to the tidying up process. The garden is resilient, adaptive and ever changing. In spite of its wild and unkept appearance…now…a little care this fall will return it to its splendor next spring. Time in the garden is time well spent. The returns are a hundredfold, for me and for my backyard paradise.

Create a Personal Manifesto

Check out these gardening favorites from Amazon:


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Plant in Fall for Spring Color

 

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Ahhh….fall is here. Even though temperatures in the Midwest have remained unusually high, it’s time for gardening tasks that mark the end of the growing season.

Prepare a cup of herbal tea and read through these planting tips. This is the perfect time of year to plan for next year. Plant in fall, for spring color!

Plant in Fall title meme

Why Plant in Fall?

There are several reasons for prepping now for a colorful spring:

  •  Fall has more mild days for working in the garden, compared to spring when temperatures can still fluctuate wildly from day to day.
  •  Rainfall is typically plentiful enough that you don’t need to water as often.
  •  The soil is still warm, which encourages roots to grow and become established.
  •  Weeds are dying down, meaning there is less competition for nutrients in the soil.
  •  There are fewer pests to cause damage to bulbs and plants and less likelihood of disease.
  •  Fertilizer isn’t needed. It encourages new growth, which isn’t what we want at this time of year.

Plant about six weeks before the first hard frost. In the Midwest, that’s toward the end of November, making October perfect for planting. Check out your zone on this map.

Plant in Fall Daffodils
Daffodils are one of the first flowers to appear in spring.

Bulbs to Plant in Fall

Plant these hardy bulbs now, for gorgeous color in early spring.  Generally, bulbs are placed in the ground at a depth two to three times the diameter of the bulb. For example, plant most tulip bulbs at a depth of six to eight inches. Place in the ground with the pointy end, or nose, up. Cover with dirt and add a couple of inches of mulch.

  •  tulips
  •  daffodils
  •  snowdrops
  •  crocus
  •  hyacinths
  •  lilies
Plant in Fall Hostas
Hostas come in a variety of colors and patterns.

Perennials to Plant in Fall

Planting perennials in the fall creates bigger and healthier plants in the spring. Adding early blooming perennials to areas with bulbs doubles the color in the garden next spring. As bulb flowers die back, the perennials take their place.

Plant before a hard frost. Don’t fertilize. And add a couple of inches of mulch to blanket the new plants. Water only if there is less than an inch of rainfall per week.

  •  hostas
  •  salvia
  •  peonies
  •  coreopsis
  •  dianthus
  •  garden phlox
  •  sedum
  •  irises
Plant in Fall Azaleas
Azaleas are available in a variety of colors. Plant on the east or north side of the property. They don’t tolerate full sun.

Shrubs and Trees to Plant in Fall

Autumn is the perfect time to plant shrubs and trees. The warm days and cooler nights allow them to spread their roots and settle in before becoming dormant during the winter. And trees and shrubs planted in fall handle heat and drought better the following year.

Make sure you know how large the shrub or tree will get when full grown and leave ample room when planting. Dig a hole twice as wide as the plant’s container and deep enough that the root ball sits slightly above ground level. Add shrub or tree. Fill the hole half way with soil, then water well. Fill in with the remaining soil. Water again. Mulch with two to three inches of a bark based mulch, leaving a couple of inches of space around the trunk. Water two to three times a week, then taper off as the weather and soil cool down.

Shrubs

  •  knockout roses
  •  camellia sasanqua
  •  fothergilla
  •  oakleaf hydrangea
  • rhododendron
  •  spirea
  •  azaleas

Trees

  •  Japanese maple
  •  gingko
  •  maple
  •  alder
  •  hawthorn
  •  ash
  •  honey locust
  •  crabapple
  •  spruce
  •  pine
  •  sycamore
  •  elm

Enjoying the Rewards of Fall Gardening

The effort put forth in the garden, during fall, reaps big rewards next spring. Plan for next year and then grab a shovel! Create new beds, add a fresh focal point, divide perennials and tuck that tree into the ground.

Watch next week for the Fall Gardening Checklist. And happy gardening!

Ornamental Grasses
The ornamental grasses are beautiful this time of year.

Mosquitos still a problem in your area? Check out this DIY Mosquito Repellent.

Gardening Picks from Amazon


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Downton Abbey Movie Review

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I arrived to the Downton Abbey party late. When the series originally aired, from 2010 – 2015, I watched episodes in a hit or miss fashion. Mostly miss, I confess. However, as news of a feature movie began to fill my Google newsfeed, I decided to watch the entire series, beginning with season one, episode one.

I’m so glad I did!

I quickly fell in love with the period drama, set in the early 20th century. Downton Abbey is home to the Crawley Family…and their servants. The series explores the lives of the inhabitants of the big country estate, upstairs and downstairs, and the intriguing way that they interact.

After spending the summer catching up on the series, I found myself grateful that a movie was imminent. Otherwise, sadness over the end of an excellent story would have set in. For my mother’s birthday this week, my sister Linda and I took her to see Downton Abbey and then out to dinner.

Movie Review Downton Abbey Title Meme

Downton Abbey Cast

Downton Abbey features a very large ensemble cast including Michelle Dockery, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leach, Joanne Froggett, Imelda Staunton, Tuppence Middleton, Matthew Goode, Robert James-Collier, Hugh Bonneville, Sophie McShera, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Phyllis Logan, Penelope Wilton, Michael Fox, Lesley Nicol, Harry Hadden Paton, Kevin Doyle, Geraldine James and Simon Jones.

The drama, written and produced by Julian Fellowes, is directed by Michael Engler. Downton Abbey carries a PG rating, for mild sexuality, and has a run time of 2 hours and 2 minutes.

The TV series concludes in January of 1926. The movie joins the Crawley Family and their staff in the summer of 1927.

Downton Abbey Carson
Carson returns to Downton Abbey.

A Royal Visit to Downton Abbey

The movie begins with an exciting announcement. King George V (Jones) and Queen Mary (James) will spend a night at Downton Abbey, during their tour of Yorkshire. While Robert, the Earl of Grantham (Bonneville), and Lady Cora (McGovern) are honored, there are burdens that accompany such a visit.

The whole household comes together to prepare for the king and queen’s arrival.

Below stairs, Mrs. Hughes (Logan) directs the housemaids to make sure everything in the grand home sparkles. Mrs. Patmore (Nicol), the cook, and Daisy (McShera), her apprentice, plan the menus and prepare the kitchen. Mr. Molesley (Doyle), beyond excited, appears at the house, ready to don a livery again to help serve during meals.

Upstairs, Robert and Cora feel proud, and a bit anxious, as they anticipate the visit. Their elder daughter Mary (Dockery), fearing head butler Thomas (James-Collier) isn’t adequate for the tasks ahead, asks for help. Former head butler Carson (Carter) comes out of retirement to take charge of the household and offer expert guidance.

Head Footman Andy
Head Footman Andy (Fox) winds the clock.
Downton Abbey Kitchen
Mrs. Patmore and Daisy prepare the kitchen.

Upstairs Challenges

As the royal visit draws near, challenges arise.

A stranger in the village questions son-in-law Tom (Leach), whose loyalties seem under suspicion due to his Irish Republic roots.

The Dowager Countess (Smith) learns that her estranged kinswoman Lady Bagshaw (Staunton) will visit Downton Abbey as a Lady in Waiting for the queen. An old feud between them needs to be settled. Cousin Isobel (Wilton) is eager to help.

Second daughter Edith (Carmichael) and her husband Bertie (Hadden-Paton) arrive from their estate to support the family. However, Edith’s formal gown is a disaster and the king makes a difficult request of Bertie.

Mary’s husband Henry (Goode), away on a visit to America, is missing the whole event.

Tom and Lady Bagshaw
Tom and Lady Bagshaw.
Downton Abbey Movie Review
Edith and Bertie arrive.

Downstairs Challenges

The servants encounter their share of challenges as well. Thomas does not appreciate Carson’s return or the temporary demotion from head butler. And the entire staff is discouraged to learn that the king and queen travel with their own chef and servants. Downton Abbey staff will not assist during the visit at all.

Not to be denied this once in a lifetime opportunity, Anna (Froggatt) and Mr. Bates (Coyle) come up with a plan that involves secrecy and hilarious shenanigans.

During the course of the royal visit, small treasures mysteriously disappear from the house. Anna suspects the thief is one of the queen’s maids.

And Tom, the widowed husband of Lady Sybil, feels drawn to Lady Bagshaw’s maid, Lucy (Middleton). The attraction is mutual.

The joys, the challenges, the growth of all those who reside in the house…this is what life at Downton Abbey is all about.

Lady Cora and her daughters
Lady Cora and her daughters, Edith and Mary.
Downton Abbey Movie Review Violet
The Dowager Countess, Violet, portayed with delightfully sarcasm by Maggie Smith.

My Thoughts about Downton Abbey, the Movie

As a huge fan of the series, I loved the movie. All the characters returned for this feature film, and the story picked right up from where it left off in the series. My sister has not seen the series…yet…and she too enjoyed the film. It does well enough as a stand alone movie, although familiarity with the characters and their backstories is a definite plus.

Because, we love the Crawleys. We love their servants who dedicate themselves to the household. And, we love the huge, graceful home that is as much a character in the story as the people who inhabit it.

I think part of my fascination with Downton Abbey is the peek into a way of life that was vital to England and Scotland. The historical elements intrigue me as well, and caused me to fact check after each episode of the series.

And I’ve always been drawn to big old houses. They are stunningly beautiful…and so difficult and costly to maintain. The fictional Crawley’s are typically a step or two away from losing their home. Their struggles are a theme that winds through the story. Unfortunately that was a harsh reality for many actual families in the years following World War I. Maintaining those properties continues to challenge current estate owners today.

Downton Abbey Ballroom
The  movie sets, costumes and music are amazing.

More to Come

I enjoyed seeing how the characters I came to love in the series have grown, in a movie rich with lavish details. I smiled over every little nod toward the six seasons on television, and applauded every bit of happiness achieved by those who sought to be who they truly are.

It’s a beautifully done film that completely satisfies the Downton Abbey fan…and perhaps inspires a new group of people to check out the series.

I’ve read that if this first feature film does well…and it’s off to a great start…then more movies will follow. I sure hope so! I’ll never tire of Downton Abbey and the people who live there.

Downton Abbey's inhabitants
The people who live, love and struggle at Downton Abbey.

Check out Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey where the series and movie were filmed.

Enjoy these Downton Abbey favorites:

 

 


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I love walking at Mercy Park in Joplin. Located on the site of the former St. John’s Hospital, the park offers a gorgeous lake with fountains, a walking trail, native grasses, flowers, trees and plants, a butterfly mural and a memorial pavilion atop a hill.

Looking around, it’s hard to remember the destruction that befell this place as a result of the May 22, 2011 EF5 tornado that leveled a third of the city. St. John’s Hospital lay in the direct path of the monster tornado that ultimately claimed 161+ lives.

I am grateful for the reclamation of this land and the restoration of this wounded space. Peace and serenity flows through the park, now. Beauty and whimsy abound. Families stroll together. Children laugh as they race by on skates or bicycles. Dogs trot happily alongside their humans.

There is something new to delight us here in this magical place. Come walk with me, virtually, and tour the sculpture garden at Mercy Park.

Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park Title Meme

Beauty from Chaos

Nine years ago, this land was part of the St. John’s Hospital complex. On May 22 much of the medical community was destroyed, along with the hospital.

Renamed Mercy, the hospital rebuilt in a new location south of Joplin. They donated the land to the city. A new elementary school was built on the southern section, to replace two that were lost. The second project was a pavilion atop a grassy knoll, situated in the exact spot that the hospital chapel once occupied. Phase three involved the construction of Mercy Park.

St. John’s Hospital provided healing for the community. I love that Mercy Park continues that long-held tradition. The park offers healing on multiple levels. It soothes the soul, inspires creativity, encourages the body to move and provides places for quiet reflection.

The sculptures bring enchantment to the park, something that calls deeply to me.

St John's Hosptial Before and After
St John’s Hospital, before the tornado, and after.

The Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park

A two year project, the sculpture garden at Mercy Park is a joint effort of Joplin’s two rotary clubs. The idea for the garden came to Bob Headlee, chairman of the Rotary Sculpture Garden Board, after a visit to a similar garden in Loveland, CO. That garden displays 164 sculptures.

The nine sculptures at Mercy Park, all donated, are just the beginning. Over the next month signs will go up near each sculpture. And eventually more sculptures will join the current works of art.

As the sun set last night, I had my first opportunity to stroll around the lake and see the new additions to the park. Here they are, in the order that I saw them.

Joyful Empowerment
Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park…Joyful Empowerment

Joyful Empowerment

I am enchanted by this fun sculpture, created by Angela Mia De La Vega, and donated by Barbara and Jim Hicklin. A girl stands upon the world, with arms outstretched and head tipped back.

I love the feeling of joyful abandon captured in her pose. And I appreciate that she stands on the world, arms open wide to receive. This first sculpture made me smile and created anticipation for the other works of art.

Rabbit Reach Sculpture
Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park…Rabbit Reach.

Rabbit Reach

Created by Tim Cherry and donated by Sharon and Lance Beshore, this playful sculpture caught my eye immediately. Connected to my word for next year, curiosity, are the Alice in Wonderland stories. Rabbits are popping up everywhere as I am in this transition phase between the word and symbol for this year and the new ones for 2020.

I don’t think my symbol for next year is the rabbit. No, I believe it’s another symbol, that I’ll share later. However, the rabbit connects to the white rabbit in the Wonderland stories and reminds me to follow curiosity. Not coincidentally, it’s curiosity that drew me to explore the park and enjoy the sculptures.

Water Lily Sculpture at Mercy Park
Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park…Water Lily.

Water Lily

This sculpture is gorgeous and the setting for it ideal. Created by Rosiland Cook and donated by Harry M. Cornell, Jr., this young lady holds in her hand a water lily with a lotus blossom. I at first thought the sculpture was a mermaid. On closer inspection, I spied her legs.

I could sit and stare at this exquisite statue and the lake behind it for hours. The lotus reminds me of a crown, which ties in with my symbol for this year.

Standing Giraffes at Mercy Park
Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park…Standing Giraffes

Standing Giraffes

I can see these fun sculptures, which count as two of the nine, from 26th Street as I drive by. And the sight makes me laugh. There are now giraffes at Mercy Park, and how whimsical they are!

Donated by Harry M. Cornell, Jr., the artist for these beauties has not yet been identified. I’ll update this post with the artist’s name when I discover who created them.

The Bird Feeder at Mercy Park
Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park…The Bird Feeder

The Bird Feeder

This is another beautiful sculpture, of a young girl feeding a bird as it perches on her raised hand. The artist is Rosalind Cook and this piece is donated by Cornell as well.

Something about this work of art makes me think of fairies dancing in the Shakespeare play, A Midsummer’s Night Dream. I can almost hear the sweet notes from a pan pipe!

Resting Big Cat Sculpture
Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park…Resting Big Cat

Resting Big Cat

I smiled over this sculpture too. A child sat laughing on the big cat’s back as I approached. I’m grateful that he darted off with his dad, so I could take a photo. As a “cat mom”, I could appreciate the fine lines of this sleek beast.

Donated by Cornell, this sculpture is a work of art by Michael Boyce.

Whitetail Deer Sculptures at Mercy Park
Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park…Whitetail Deer

Whitetail Deer

These stunning sculptures are amazing. Created by Michael Boyce, and donated by Cornell, the realism of these two pieces caused me to walk around the sculptures and study them from all angles.

I love these deer. They are in flight, as if startled from their hiding spot. The artist certainly captured the animals’ grace in his art.

View the Sculpture Garden at Mercy Park

If you live in the Joplin area, you simply must take a walk around the lake at Mercy Park and see the sculptures for yourself. As I walked, I met a woman who was as appreciative of the sculptures as I am.

We stood and talked for a few minutes. She was seeing the sculptures for the first time too and expressed genuine amazement. In her opinion, the sculptures bring a unique quality to the park, and even to Joplin, making the city feel bigger and more metropolitan. I understand her sentiments and share them.

Gazing across the park, after sunset, I felt tears sting my eyes. What a transformation this property has undergone. So much has changed. And yet, so much remains the same. This is a sanctuary, a place of rest and healing still.

And now, it is home to nine magnificent sculptures that ignite hope and joy in my heart. I am enchanted, indeed.

Mercy Park Joplin MO
Mercy Park, located at 26th & Maiden Lane, Joplin Missouri

Books about the Joplin Tornado. Click on photos to order.

 

 

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Better Health with HempFusion

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Thank you to HempFusion for sending a basket of products for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

How amazing, timing wise, to receive a basket of products from HempFusion just after my return from Scotland. Feeling a bit weary from a long day of travels and a bit stiff around the knees from sitting in airports and onboard planes, these hemp infused products looked promising.

I like to try out supplements for a period of time, before writing a review post. Therefore, I’ve used the products for the past month. That’s enough time to note changes or improvements. I’m ready to give my honest opinion.

The short truth is, it’s possible to enjoy better health with HempFusion.

Better Health with HempFusion Title Meme

HempFusion the Company

The company’s founders, Ian Dequeiroz, Dr. Jason Mitchell and Andrew Oliver, are energetic, highly motivated entrepreneurs with the desire to bring quality hemp products to the market.

The result? HempFusion is a leading US hemp-based CBD company that manufactures, markets and sells whole food hemp extract products in more than 3,400 retail locations across 47 states. Their product line is all natural, plant-based and built upon the extraordinary health benefits of proprietary Whole Food Hemp Complex™ derived from full-spectrum nutritional hemp. The company is dedicated to creating a global brand.

HempFusion uses eco-certified, premium organic hemp in their line, which currently includes 31 products.

HempFusion Logo
Company Logo

Why Use Hemp Based CBD?

CBD is the abbreviation for Cannabidiol, one of the cannabinoids in the hemp plant. The compound is not psychoactive in nature, meaning you won’t get “high” from using it. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and it is considered antioxidant and neuroprotectant, with many promising health benefits.

HempFusion offers “full spectrum” hemp extract products. This means they extract all nutrients from the hemp plant, not just the CBD. Full-spectrum extract contains vital terpenes and other phytocannabinoids along with vitamins and minerals. The result is a better supplement that supports the Endocannabinoid System in the body.

Better Health with HempFusion
Assortment of products from the company.

HempFusion Products

To experience better health with HempFusion, I needed to try the products. The company sent an assortment in a 100% hemp and cotton woven basket, made without chemicals. And the letter accompanying my care package is printed on recycled paper that is embedded with flower seeds. I can plant that sheet of paper and flowers will grow. How impressive. HempFusion had my respect and appreciation already!

I didn’t use two of the products. The Twist Liquid Dietary Supplement, in key lime flavor, contains fish oil. Due to my plant based lifestyle, I passed on it. And the My Little Bugs Probiotic for kids, in watermelon flavor, will go to children in my extended family to try out.

HempFusion Liquid with Black Seed Oil
Better Health with HempFusion Liquid with black seed oil.

Better Health with HempFusion

Here are the products I did enjoy:

HempFusioin 5 mg CBD Hemp Extract Liquid

This tincture contains hemp extract, cloves and black pepper fruit in a base of virgin black cumin seed oil. It is rich in terpenes and omegas, to support the Endocannabinoid System. Plus it provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

The product is non GMO and soy, gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs and shellfish free. It does not contain artificial colors, flavors or chemical processing aids.

Take one milliliter daily, using the convenient dropper included with the bottle.

HempFusion Stress

This non GMO formula contains hemp, black pepper and clove oils plus CBD. Also included is a patented form of Ashwagandha for maximum stress relief and mood boosting properties.

Each capsule is soy, gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs and shellfish free. It does not contain artificial colors, flavors or chemical processing aids.

Take one capsule daily, with food.

HempFusion Sleep

I quit using over the counter or prescription sleep aids years ago. Occasionally, however, we all need help falling asleep. This product features PharmaGABA, a more natural form of the amino acid GABA. Clinical studies have demonstrated that it can play an important role in reducing occasional stress and promoting relaxation, which may facilitate restful sleep.

Each capsule contains CBD and hemp, black pepper and clove oils. The product is also non GMO and does not contain soy, gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs and shellfish free or artificial colors, flavors or chemical processing aids.

Take one capsule an hour, or less, before bedtime.

HempFusion Lotion and Balm
Better Health with HempFusion Cream and Balm.

CBD Hemp Extract Cream and Balm

This soothing cream contains hemp extract CBD, terpenes, peppermint oil, MSM and magnesium oil in a rich aloe vera base. It is perfect for aching joints or muscles.

Apply the creamy lotion to clean, dry skin.

The balm contains hemp extract CBD, terpenes, peppermint oil, rosemary, carnauba wax and organic coconut oil in a jojoba and sunflower oil base. It too relieves pain and soothes joints and muscles.

Apply the balm to clean, dry skin.

Probulin Women’s Health Probiotic

I was not currently using a probiotic in my daily health routine, so I was excited to try this product. Created by Dr. Jason Mitchell, in collaboration with Dr. Shekhar Challa, author of Probiotics for Dummies, Probulin is touted as the “next generation of probiotics.”

Stress and lifestyle challenges such as diet, aging, medications, environment and alcohol consumption can all contribute to digestive imbalance of essential beneficial bacteria. Probulin Probiotic includes a patent pending delivery system called MAKTrek 3-D that ensures that the beneficial probiotic bacteria survive better in the body.

Each non GMO capsule contains 20 billion cfu (a unit of measurement for good bacteria and yeasts) that support digestive balance and health. The product does not contain soy, gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs and shellfish free or artificial colors, flavors or chemical processing aids.

Take one capsule daily, with or without food. For best results, take at bedtime.

Better Health with HempFusion Probiotic
Better Health with HempFusion Probiotic for Women

My Results Using HempFusion Products

I’m experiencing great health and wellness, overall. However, I am always open to improving wellbeing and trying new products.

Cream and Balm

Arriving home after a long international flight, I first tried the hemp extract cream  on stiff muscles in both legs. Because of years of inflammation, the muscles around my knees can tighten up easily, if I sit for long periods of time. I massaged the creamy lotion into muscles around both knees before bedtime, and noticed immediate improvement. I have gardening work coming up, as the season shifts to fall. I’ll definitely be using this cream again!

And, coincidently, a few days after I returned home, I “popped” my right thumb out of place. I got it back into place, however, the whole lower portion of my hand throbbed with pain and the joint felt weak. I used the balm, which is drier than the cream lotion. At night before bed and the next morning after a shower, I massaged the balm into the joint area of my right thumb.  The pain lessened right away and within a few days the weakness in the joint healed as well. I love this product!

Liquid, Stress and Sleep

I’ve been taking the hemp extract liquid daily, and I feel calm yet energized throughout the day. Additionally, I’ve noticed a decrease in inflammation around that tricky left knee. In fact, my legs feel the best they have felt since January, when I injured the left knee in a fall. I use a dropperful of the oil under my tongue. The flavor is mild. I like it.

I rarely have what I consider a “stress filled” day any more. However, I’ve taken the Stress capsules several times. Again, I’ve noticed a calming effect that is greater, perhaps, than when I’m using the liquid alone.

And as for the Sleep capsules, they put me right out! I’ve only used them a few times, to see how effective they are. And believe me, they are effective. I take one as I am getting ready for bed…which takes about 15 minutes. And I’m asleep as soon as I lie down. The capsules don’t dry out my mouth, like other sleep aids I’ve taken, and the drowsiness doesn’t linger into the next day. I appreciate that very much!

Probulin Probiotic

I’ve especially appreciated this product. I have had digestive issues all my life and have an especially sensitive gut. Switching to a plant based diet has helped me so much. These probiotics seem to take my digestive health up a notch, and I didn’t even know that was possible. This product is not on the company website, however it’s available on Amazon. Click link at the end of the post.

I am very pleased with all of the products that HempFusion sent me. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to try them and experience better health with HempFusion. My intention is to continue using the products. Try them too, and experience greater health yourself!

Better Health with HempFusion Care Basket
Better Health with HempFusion Care Basket. I’m enjoying the hemp and cotton basket as well! It’s currently found a home in my creative studio.

Check out HempFusion website HERE.

Probulin is available below:

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

The Scotland Connection


This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

When I travel, I enjoy bringing home small keepsakes to remind me of my adventures. An easy way to memorialize the trip is to create art from postcards from each country. On this trip, with Edinburgh as my home base, I looked for postcards that represented the fascinating city. As my sister and I browsed in different shops, I checked out the postcards for sale. However, nothing really captured my interest.

I was looking for the Scotland connection, a link between Edinburgh and my interests. As we waited to enter the Museum Context, I spied a small artistic shop next door, called The Red Door Gallery. How grateful I am that I stepped inside!

The Scotland Connection Title Meme

The Red Door Gallery

This delightful shop, established in 2003 and located at 42 Victoria Street in Edinburgh, showcases artwork from Edinburgh and UK based artists. The Red Door Gallery offers a large assortment of artists prints, homewares, jewelry and CARDS.

Suddenly I went from not having the right options to having too many! I’d been so busy looking at postcards that I almost missed an opportunity to purchase greeting cards featuring the artwork of local artists. I quickly located a dozen cards that appealed to me, that offered the Scotland connection I desired.

As a bonus, the cards easily tucked into my carry on. I can’t bring home a bunch of souvenirs, when I travel, which is perfect. The small space helps me to decide what’s most important.

The Scotland Connection Haul
My treasures from the trip: Maitland tartan pieces, Maitland Clan Badge, kilt pin, art cards, small keychains, dated thistle Christmas ornament and a jacket that I had to wear home.
The Scotland Connection David Fleck Art Cards
Cards by artist David Fleck. David grew up in Edinburgh and now creates from Glasgow.

Inspired Art

Back home, I studied my art cards, eager to create. (Check out my previous postcard art.) I chose the watercolor and ink art cards by David Fleck as my first project.

Previously I purchased frames from Michael’s Craft Store to hold postcards from Italy, Scotland and England. This time, I wanted to be more creative. Daily I looked at my cards as I sought inspiration. And each day ended without a solid idea. Finally, as I clicked off the light one night, an amazing flash of creativity arrived. I turned the light back on.

Interestingly, during this same time, ideas simmered on the back burner of my mind for another creative project. That night, the two projects merged into one.

The Scotland Connection Vintage Chair
The chair my grandfather made, literally falling apart.
Vintage Chair Unassembled
The chair, carefully disassembled.

My Grandfather’s Chair

In 2014 my sister, the same one who accompanied me to Scotland, passed on to me a couple of vintage chairs made in the 1950s, by my paternal grandfather. The chairs underwent numerous repairs over the years. When I received them, one of the chairs needed extensive work to make it usable. (You can read about the restoration here.)

However five years later, this old chair is literally falling apart, due to exposure to weather. I considered throwing the chair away, but it’s one of the few keepsakes that I have from this grandfather, who passed away when I was just five years old. What could I make from it?

Last week inspiration provided an answer. Repurpose the chair into a frame…for the David Fleck art cards.

With Greg’s help, I disassembled the chair, piece by piece. The worn and weathered wood provided the material for a unique frame, a work of art in itself.

The Scotland Connetion Frame
From chair…to whimsical frame. I love that the arms of the chair became the sides of the frame.
Finished Repurposed Frame
Something new from something old.

Something New from Something Old

As I studied the pieces and tried out different frame styles, the finished work came together almost on its own. Suddenly the arms of the chair naturally became the sides of the frame. The 120 year old lath slats, which aren’t original to the chair but came from a remodel in my own house, created the back. And two dowel rods that formed the back of the chair perfectly divided the art cards, creating a window pane effect.

I’m grateful for Greg’s help in repurposing the chair into the frame. He used a variety of tools to assemble the frame and I attached the cards. I used double sided tape to close the cards and rubber cement to attach them to the frame backing.

I love the imperfections in the old wood, the nail holes and fine cracks. They add to the charm of the frame and remind me of the wood’s original purpose.

Vintage Chair in 2014
The chair as it was in 2014, after extensive repairs.

The Scotland Connection

I’m so pleased with this frame that holds four of my art cards from Edinburgh. The cards depict scenes throughout the old city, from the castle high upon its rock to the closes (alleyways) that offer shortcuts through town to the Hot Air Balloon event from 1785. One card, called Seek, is for those with wanderlust. It captures the Highlands north of Edinburgh. I love these cards.

I appreciate this framed work of art for another reason. My grandfather who made the chair, Dennis Fleet Lauderdale, is the Scotland connection in my family, to the country that I so love. It’s through his line that I trace my way to the Maitland Clan. This chair that he crafted once held him and my father and most recently, me. It now holds these mementoes from the country that birthed our family.

I hung the framed cards in my bedroom, above a table with a quirky telephone lamp that Greg’s dad made, a photo of my Lauderdale grandparents on their wedding day, and a small lion statue. The Clan Maitland crest has a lion at its center and the Latin words, consilio et animis, “by wisdom and courage”.

As I worked, I asked my grandfather if he minded that I took apart his chair and created something new. I hoped not. Grandpa was, after all, a carpenter and enjoyed tinkering in his workshop. And I intend to create more frames from this chair and the second one that still rests in my garden.

He appeared in my mind as I last saw him, a kind man with a bit of stubble on his chin and merry eyes. He smiled. I don’t think he minds.

The Scotland Connection Vignette
Finished art piece.

 

Scottish Watercolor Print from Amazon

Get inspired with this watercolor of Scotland’s national flower, the thistle. Better yet, travel to this gorgeous country, find your own mementoes and create the Scotland connection!

 


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage

This post may contain affiliate links. I may make a commission on purchases made, using my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Thank you to Good Idea for sending me product for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

We’ve all experienced those blood sugar spikes, after a carb rich meal. Big holiday feasts come to mind. However,  those slices of pizza or that burger and fries for dinner do the same thing. Eating any food raises glucose levels, temporarily, as it should. Our bodies need that fuel. Meals high in sugar and/or fat can cause a build up of glucose in the bloodstream that the body can’t process quickly enough.

Then, after the spike comes the crash as blood sugar levels drop. We feel tired or amazingly, hungry again, even though we just ate recently. We crave more sugar.

Those repeated blood sugar spikes, over time, can put stress on the body and lead to inflammation and diseases such as diabetes.

Drinking a Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage with a meal helps to balance out those spikes and crashes, in a healthy and all natural way.

Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage title meme

A Good Idea from Sweden

The Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage is the creation of Dr. Rickard Öste and Dr. Elin Östman, the scientific team behind the company. Dr. Öste is a leading European scientist in nutrition and food chemistry. And Dr. Östman is a food scientist focusing on the preventative properties in food, in relationship to lifestyle related diseases.

They found that a proprietary blend of five amino acids and the mineral chromium can provide a 25% – 30% reduction in blood sugar rise, following high carb meals. Clinical studies show that the amino acids help the body process carbohydrates from food in a more productive way. The chromium enables insulin to push the energy from the carbs…glucose…into the cells more efficiently. According to the scientific team, the result is a metabolism that performs better at mealtime, leading to a more controlled blood sugar curve and a body and brain that stay sharp and energized. In other words, no wild spike, no after meal slump and no cravings for sweets after the meal.

The Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage is simply sparkling water with amino acids and chromium. It comes in three natural flavors…orange-mango, lemon-lime and dragon fruit. The drink is unsweetened, vegan and non GMO with zero calories.

Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage Flavors
Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage comes in these three flavors.

Trying the Product

The company suggests drinking a Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage before and during a meal, for the best results. The 12 ounce can is perfect for sipping on while prepping a meal and dishing it up, and then finishing while eating.

I appreciated the opportunity to try these drinks from Good Idea. Sugar consumption is exremely low for me now. However, it is a real problem for most people on a typical American diet, as it was for me before embracing a plant based lifestyle. And that high sugar, high fat diet is making us sick.

Vasanti Malik is a research scientist involved with the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health Study. He headed a study on the connection between drinking sugar sweetened beverages and premature death. Malik and his colleagues analyzed the results of studies on 80,000 women between 1980 and 2014 and 38,000 men between 1986 and 2014. His conclusion? The more sugar sweetened drinks people consume, the higher the risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease and secondarily, from cancer.

He shares:

“Compared with infrequent sugar sweetened beverage drinkers, those who drank two or more servings per day of sugar sweetened beverages had a 31% higher risk of early death from cardiovascular disease. Each additional serving per day was linked with a 10% higher risk of a cardiovascular related death.”

That’s a very sobering statistic.

Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage Orange Mango
Drinks come in convenient 12 ounce cans.

My Experience with the Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage

The company sent me an assortment box of 12 cans, containing all three flavors. I tried them all.

My favorite is the orange mango, although the lemon lime and dragon fruit are excellent as well. Because of the sparkling water, these drinks are a superb and healthy replacement for soda. Don’t expect a syrupy sweetness however. The beverages are mildly flavored and sugar and artificial sweetener free.

I appreciate that. I gave up drinking soda years ago. And I drink my herbal teas plain, without sugar or honey added. I like unsweetened. Switching to unsweetened beverages might require a slight adjustment time for those used to sugary drinks.

Print out Malik’s statement above and post it on the refrigerator! Eliminating sugar is so worth the effort, even if it feels like a sacrifice at first. It’s life changing…and life extending.

I’m drinking my Good Idea beverages when I eat a higher carb meal, like gluten free pasta. As I plate my food I begin sipping on the drink and continue drinking through meal time. I’ve noticed that my energy stays steady after my meal, without a spike or a slump, and that I don’t crave anything else to “finish off the meal”. I don’t get the yawns or feel like a nap. All I experience is energy, which is what the body is supposed to do with food…convert it into life sustaining, health boosting energy.

Thank You Good Idea

I’m grateful for the experience of trying the Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage. I especially appreciate the science behind their product and the company’s desire to increase and support health and wellbeing.

I heartily recommend the beverages, which can be purchased HERE through the company’s website. When you checkout, use this discount code on your purchase and save 30%: cindygo30

Or you can find Good Idea on Amazon. Click the link below. The discount code does not work with Amazon however.

The drinks are a wonderful way to lower blood sugar spikes and create greater health by weaning off of sugary drinks.

Do yourself, and your health, a tremendous favor. Ditch the sugar.

Good Idea Sparkling Mealtime Beverage
Sitting outside on a breezy day, drinking an orange mango sparkling beverage from Good Idea.

Link for Good Idea Through Amazon

Order through Amazon by clicking photo below. Remember though, you receive a 30% discount with the code above, when you order through the company website.

 

 

 

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and in the Good Idea Affiliate Program. These affiliate programs provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to them, all at no extra cost to you.

Wandering Through Edinburgh

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

While in Scotland, my sister Debbie and I spent five wonderful days connecting with new family members from Clan Maitland. The other meaningful connection that we deepened was with the city itself.

Edinburgh captured our hearts on previous visits. This trip, with Edinburgh as our home base, we set out to get to know the city better and strengthen the bond.

Wandering through Edinburgh became a daily, intentional adventure.

Wandering Through Edinburgh Title Meme

Fun Facts About Edinburgh

  •  capital of Scotland and second largest city, with Glasgow the biggest
  •  population of 512,000 (as of 2016)
  •  Scottish Gaelic name – Dun Eideann, meaning “hill of Eidyn”
  •  nickname – Auld Reekie, so called because the smoke from chimneys hung over the city in ancient times
  •  earliest known habitation, a Mesolithic Camp on Castle Rock about 8500 BC
  •  documented evidence of royal burgh in early 1100s with a charter signed by King David I
  • divided into Old Town and New Town, with “new” being a relative term – building began in the 1770s
  •  Edinburgh was surrounded by a high stone wall until the 1700s – the limited space birthed 10 and 11 story dwellings, the first “high rise apartments”
  •  27 year old architect James Craig won the 1766 competition to design New Town
  •  Edinburgh is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  •  Arthur’s Seat and Edinburgh Castle both rest atop extinct volcanoes
  •  Edinburgh Castle houses the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny
  •  Leith is the port of Edinburgh – last shipyard closed in 1983 – now used for cruise ships and to dock the Royal Yacht Britannia, the queen’s former floating palace
  •  Temperatures average 72 degrees in the summer – the hottest temperature ever recorded was 88.9 degrees on July 25, 2019 (Debbie and I experienced that record breaking heat!)
Wandering Through Edinburgh Wall
Part of the original city wall, near the pub called The End of the World. To those living within, the wall marked the true end of their known world.
Wandering Through Edinburgh Leith Port
Leith Port, on the Firth of Forth.
Wanding Through Edinburgh on Hop On Hop Off Buses
Wandering Through Edinburgh on Hop On Hop Off Buses

Getting to Know Edinburgh

Those facts about the city offer important information, just as personal details about a new acquaintance does. Green eyes, dark hair, shy smile. Capital city, located in Lothian, hosts the largest performing arts festival in the world. However it takes going beyond the facts to create a relationship. And how do we get to know someone better? We spend time with her, listen to her stories and walk alongside her for a while. We look for strengths to appreciate and choose to accept differences.

To get to know Edinburgh better, Debbie and I did the same. We spent time with her, explored her lanes and listened to her stories.

We began with the bigger picture….riding the hop on/hop off buses around the city to get an overview. Then we tugged on our walking shoes and hiking boots and hit the streets.

Our apartment on Thistle Street, located in New Town, provided an excellent base of operations. We found it easy to explore both Old Town and New Town from that strategic place.

New Town

New Town offers such lovelies as Dean Village, Charlotte Square and Princes Street Gardens, which actually serves as the dividing line between the old and new parts of Edinburgh. Shops and cafés are plentiful in this district.

Wandering Through Edinburgh Princes Street Garden Cottage
A fairy tale cottage in Princes Street Gardens.
Wandering Through Edinburgh Museum Context

Inside the Museum Context on Victoria Street, home to Harry Potter merchandise.

Old Town

Old Town features the Royal Mile. Edinburgh Castle sits at the top of the cobblestone street, which slopes down to Holyrood Palace at its base. Other favorites in Old Town are the Elephant House that J.K. Rowling frequented as she wrote the Harry Potter stories, Greyfriars Kirkyard and charming Victoria Street with its colorful storefronts. Museums of all kinds reside in Old Town, along with a vast variety of shops, cafés and attractions.

Farther out, requiring a bus ride, lies the Royal Botanic Garden, Leith Port and enchanting residential neighborhoods with their Georgian style buildings.

Wandering Through Edinburgh New Town
Looking down Hanover Street, in New Town, toward the Firth of Forth.
The Elephant House in Old Town
The Elephant House in Old Town. We enjoyed a vegan lunch and cups of tea here while it rained.

Wandering Through Edinburgh

As we wandered, we got to know the city by listening to her stories. The knowledgeable tour guides on the buses entertained us with tales from the ancient past and the recent past. Every guide shared different parts of Edinburgh’s story, so the more buses we rode, the more we learned.

Occasionally we used a taxi to reach our destination. During those short rides the drivers kept us laughing and inspired questions, which they happily answered.

Every person, every city has its dark side. Edinburgh does as well. The Dark Edinburgh Walking Tour shared stories about witch trials, mythical creatures, public executions (marked on the street by small gold plaques) and the daring escapades of body snatchers Burke and Hare. Those two enterprising men killed people and sold their bodies to the medical institutes! They eventually paid the price for their crimes, with their lives.

Mostly, though, we learned by following curiosity. If we wondered about something, we checked it out. Interesting shops drew us inside. Wandering through Edinburgh, led by curiosity and the desire to know more, created amazing days of exploration that most certainly deepened our knowledge and our love for the city.

Canongate on the Royal Mile.
Canongate Tolbooth on the Royal Mile.
Looking down the Royal Mile.
Looking down the Royal Mile.

Saying “Until Next Time” to Edinburgh

Debbie and I said our goodbyes on a Saturday evening to members of Clan Maitland. And we said our goodbyes to the grand old city the next day. Wandering through Edinburgh on Sunday, we shopped a bit, took photos, gathered memories. (Watch for a post later this week on art created from memories.) We occasionally sighed.

Connection is all about developing a relationship. We did that with our kinsmen. We did that with Edinburgh as well. The best relationships, the ones that endure, grow through gratitude, exploration and discovering fresh ways to love and appreciate each other.

My relationship, Debbie’s relationship, with Edinburgh continues to grow. I look forward to discovering more about this city and seeing it with ever wondering eyes. I’m open to every opportunity to visit again and wander the streets and closes and lanes. I love Edinburgh. I think the feeling is mutual. So it’s not goodbye. It’s until next time….

 

Love bagpipes too? Check out these great CDs.



Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Clan Means Family

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

After five days together, our Clan Maitland group gathered one last time, for a formal dinner. Each of us arrived in the Maitland tartan, in the form of kilts, ties, sashes, scarves and skirts. For my sister and me, it was our first time to formally wear our clan’s tartan and attend such an event.

When our group gathered for the first time, some of us were strangers to each other. Others were connected on social media but had never met in person. Several sibling groups traveled together to attend the clan gathering. Debbie and I fit in this category. Those from England, Scotland and France  knew each other well. The strong thread that bound us all was our heritage, our kinship connection. Ian shared on our first evening together that clan means family. By our final dinner together, I felt the deep truth of those words.

Clan Means Family title meme

Maitlands and Lauderdales

Truthfully, I didn’t know what to expect of a clan gathering. I’ve been a member of Clan Maitland for years, however I’ve never had opportunity to attend a gathering. Debbie and I added extra days around those allotted to the gathering so that we could explore and enjoy Edinburgh. We looked forward to meeting our kin and yet kept our expectations neutral.

A part of me wondered if being Lauderdales, the American branch of the family, would make us feel a bit like outsiders. Debbie and I also wondered how we should address our clan chief. Ian is the 18th Earl of Lauderdale The proper title for an earl is Lord. We wisely decided to see how others in our group addressed him!

Ian quickly set the tone for the next five days during our first evening together. While we dined, he moved from table to table, introducing himself and chatting with us. After dinner, he shared a couple of stories that I appreciated, about the family’s origination in Normandy. Placing a hand on his chest, our clan chief said simply, “I’m Ian. Clan means family. We are all kin.”

He answered the question of how to address him…and he established kinship. I loved and appreciated my chief immediately.

Clan Means Family First Dinner
First dinner together as family, at the Angel’s Share Hotel.
Clan Means Family Glenkinchie Distillery
Exploring the museum at Glenkinchie Distillery.
Clan Means Family Lauderdale Aisle
Sitting quietly in Lauderdale Aisle, above the family burial chamber.

Becoming Family

Between that first dinner and the last one, our group shifted from strangers to family. During our days exploring in the Borders and sharing meals, an amazing thing happened. The historic locations that we visited, connected to the Maitland family, became touchstones marking our journey in the past and bringing us together in the present.

These places told different parts of our story, a story shared between us. It changed perceptions, hearing ancient family stories and seeing how alike we are, rather than how different.

I loved that when Ian shared historical accounts, he often began with the words, “Your kinsman…”. He didn’t say, “My ancestor….my kinsman…”. No, he fleshed out people I’d only read about and made them real to me. He told stories from personal knowledge, which gave such depth to those I’d only known as a name printed on a page. And in the process, he connected them to me, to us, as our family, our kin.

Clan Means Family New Club
Drinks on the New Club balcony, in Edinburgh.
Thirlestane Castle Dining Room
Exploring Thirlestane Castle together.
Clan Means Family Lochcarron
In the Lochcarron showroom.

Clan Means Family

During my time with my kin, I learned that clan means family, indeed.

Curious, I looked up the word. The Cambridge dictionary defines clan as “a family or a group of families, especially in Scotland, who originally came from the same ancestor.” Ian’s claim is absolutely true.

Further, the root word for clan is the Latin word planta, which means “sprout”. That word became the Old Irish word cland, and the Scottish Gaelic word clann, meaning “offspring, family” which eventually became the word as we know it.

I love the idea of a sprout, a plant that comes from a single seed and grows, spreads and matures. A clan embodies the concept of a family tree, with the single trunk and the many, many branches that connect to it.

Clan Maitland at Thirlestane Castle
Clan means family…at Thirlestane Castle in Lauder, Scotland.
Clan Chief Ian Maitland, 18th Earl of Lauderdale
Clan means family…to our beloved Chief.
Clan Maitland Collage
Family collage. Ian and Cindy. John Maitland, Ian’s son, and Debbie. Cindy, Crawford and Debbie. Ian and Debbie.

Saying Goodbye

Those branches of the family gathered for a final dinner, to conclude our time together and say goodbye. I love formal Scottish dinners with their different courses. Dinner isn’t a hurried affair, but a meal to be savored and enjoyed.

At our large round table sat family members from Virginia, Arizona, Paris, France, Missouri, Oklahoma and London, England. It was so representative of our shared days and the way we came together to become family.

The food was excellent. Our glasses remained filled with fine wine. Conversations and laughter flowed around our table and outward, around the room. I thoroughly enjoyed the evening.

Our meal finished, we exchanged email addresses. The group gathered on the stairs for a last family photo. We snapped pics of each other too. And we hugged and kissed cheeks, promising to remember our time together and stay in touch. My heart felt so full of love and appreciation for these, my kinsmen. I felt sad to say goodbye and yet so grateful for the connections.

Debbie and I will never forget our trip to Edinburgh together and the Clan Maitland Gathering. We left Scotland enriched by the experience and determined to return to that beautiful country as often as we can. Scotland feels like home. It always has to me. And now I know why. It IS home. I belong here. The Maitland Clan is my clan. And clan means family.

Clan Means Family Formal Dinner
Clan Maitland, gathered.

Check out the other Clan Maitland posts:

Clan Maitland Gathers

Maitlands in the Borders

Rosslyn Chapel & Thirlestane Castle

Traquair House

If you are a Lauderdale or Maitland descendant, join your kinsmen!

Clan Maitland UK

Clan Maitland North America

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.