Sitting at the computer with my thoughts flitting around like butterflies, wondering which ones to share and how to put them down.
Some insights are not at all about Gaelic i.e. what a horrible size caterpillars are, just big enough to be seen from a moving car but only when they are too close to be avoided.
Some very much about Gaelic. How nice it was to spend the weekend with another Gaelic teacher comparing notes and tricks and just generally geeking out about Gaelic together.
How wonderful it was to sit on the deck at my brother's house telling my niece and nephew stories from the boyhood of Finn MaCool, reading them 'MacCoddrum of the Seals" and "the Fairy Flag of Dunvegan" How my niece seems to think that Gaelic is the language where I come from.
Chance meetings with people who have been looking for someone or someway to learn Gaelic. I set out to make these happen but in the end it turned out that I always found these people where I wasn't looking for them
Many many great moments from this trip as I head homewards I am so grateful to have had this opportunity and I know this isn't done yet :)
I have a great idea for a blog project which I will post here soon so watch this space :)
Coming in from working in the garden, we leave our shoes at the door and head to the fridge. I take out a bag of cherries and my niece helps me find a bowl for the pits and stems.
We settle in at the table with the dark red fruits. She eats them in pieces taking a bite out of the cherry like you might with a peach or a plum. Somehow as she develops a small pink goatee we get to talking about the pits. "In Gaelic you call this part the clach because it is like a stone" I say pointing at the pit of my cherry. "clach" she repeats as if learning Gaelic at her dining room table were nothing odd.
Later we are sitting on the floor playing with the plastic animals. "Shall we put these crodh gaidhealach in the barn too" I say with my hand resting on the family of highland cattle. Again she isn't surprised or phased that her aunty keeps using strange words she even came over for a little while and listened to a BBC Alba program that I was listening to.
Later that night we are outside catching fireflies and I might as well be 4 years old as well. We don't have fireflies in Colorado at least not the part that I live in and they seem magical to me, like animate Christmas tree lights twinkling across the lawn and over the corn field.
I am so grateful to be able to share this language that I love with my family and also that I get to share this time with them.
Ug I thought the room is too full of moister from my shower, I'll open the door. It didn't help the outside world was just as humid as the inside. 'We're not in Kansas any more" I thought but the other way around 'We are in Kansas now"
The sky was grey and I have to say I did think of tornadoes but it was just a regular cloudy morning and that was quite a blessing because as soon as the clouds burned off it was like walking through a hot tub with your clothes on.
Due to my experience the day before I had a new plan. Stop at every gas station I saw no matter how little gas I needed. This plan lasted about 20 min. It turns out that this part of Kansas while not booming is distinctly more populated than the part of Eastern Colorado that I had been driving through and my gas gauge was still all the way at full when I passed the next gas station. Despite the apparent abundance of gas stations I never let the tank get lower than 3/4 full and this turned out to be a good thing. Not as you may be thinking because of the gas but because of the bulletin boards that were in many of the gas stations. I put Gaelic cards on every bulletin board I saw. Again maybe they will be the one thing that leads to someone else learning Gaelic.
took more pictures of abandoned buildings, mostly from the car while driving. The joy and freedom of the open road lasted through most of the morning slowly being replaced by a desire to get where I was going.
At lunch time I pulled off on a small side road. It turned out to be called Xavier, I thought that was a bit auspicious (because of my going to university at St Francis Xavier). The farmer who owned the land came by as I was finishing my lunch and we had a nice chat. He told me that the wheat was shorter than normal due to lack of rain and all about his family and heritage (Irish, Danish and Swedish) and his family. He said he'd show me around but he had things to do but that I was welcome to take pictures and if I went back across the highway there was a tall hill that from which I could get some better views. :) he went on his way and I took a few pictures and then got back on the road.
Finally I pulled in to my brother's house, grateful to have arrived and very happy to see my sister-in-law, niece and nephew. Fortunately I had brought my collection of plastic animals that I use in teaching Gaelic and was an instant hit with my niece. We were putting the animals into the barn when my brother got home.
When my nephew was born I was living in Scotland, I bought him a tartan blanket from the same store in Edinburgh that my grandparents had got me a tartan blanket when I was born. I also got him some Gaelic board books. He is 13 now and on this visit I am going to record the Gaelic for those books finally.
here are some pictures from yesterday
after writing last nights blog post I went out to find some dinner. Driving past the Macdonalds and Subway I saw a sign which said 'buisness distric' or something along those lines and so I turned off the highway in the hopes of finding some nice little restaurant. Down town turned out to be short on businesses but had the familiar feel of empty buildings of the late 1800's early 1900's era, a few businesses seem like they might have been open if it hadn't been 7pm on a Sunday, others had clearly gone under, their windows empty or boarded over. Amongst this I saw a flashing sign which said "open" it turned out to be a Chinese restaurant so I went in. It was a cafeteria like place with simple tables and chairs in rows not quite managing to make the room feel less empty and I was the only one there, not a single other person was eating there. I sat down and ordered some food trying to make myself feel less awkward. In the end I only succeeded in getting to feeling comfortable about being uncomfortable and returned as soon as possible to the motel room.
Packing up this morning I have left a Gaelic flyer in with the other flyers for Kansas attractions, who knows it might just be the thing that gets someone else started learning Gaelic. :)
here are some of the photos from yesterday
The car having been declared fit for travel and after many trips from house to car and a wee bit of rearranging I had to face the fact that it was time to say farewell to my wonderful friends and head out on the road.
The morning was clear, bright and cool. After a quick stop at the store, to stock up on gluten free goodies and get a car charger for my phone, I got on the road.
My chosen route was Hwy 36 out of Boulder and all the way across Kansas. Heading out of Boulder I was confronted with road construction which made this most familiar part of my trip seem foreign but I managed to to get myself on to the right road. For a while outside of Denver 36 and 70 are the same road with a speed limit of 75!. While that does certainly get you there faster 75 is a bit faster than I really like to drive especially with loads of semi's.
Soon enough the turn off for 36 came up and off I went at a pleasant 65 mph feeling much happier and with the cruse control giving me a bit of leeway too look at the surroundings.
When I was younger the flatness and openness of Eastern Colorado and Kansas were not only boring but somewhat frightening. I remember thinking that there was just too much sky.
This time however, I found myself delighting in the small undulations of the rolling grassy hills. I found again my love for abandoned buildings reawakening. At one point I had to stop and turn around to get a picture of an old farm house, grey with empty windows quietly shouting of the past. When I got out of the car the air was sweet and I could hear the birds singing. I wished I had more time, perhaps to go up to the old house and properly photograph her. But the road called and as I had no idea how long it would take me to get to my destination I got back in the car and hurried on.
The lovely loneliness of the smaller highway was wonderful but as time went on and the gas gauge got lower and lower I began to fret a tiny bit.
Cope 5 mi the sign said. Well a town with a sign must have a gas station right? The road curved southward flocks of trees sheltering and protecting the town. "how cute" I thought but quickly the peeling paint flaking away to revel grey wood began to seep into my consciousness. The trees were not just shading but had their limbs wrapped around abandoned houses as if their embrace might hold the town together, bring back the people that were so clearly gone.
I drove through two or three more towns of a similar status. As I passed through each my worry growing as the gauge continued to fall.
Gas Food ---> Ahh yes! I double checked the map it wasn't a big detour and I turned down the road. The tiny town at least seemed a bit more beothail (lively) but as I pulled into the gas station that at least looked like it could be open despite the very old looking pumps I saw a sign saying they were not open on Sundays. I quick relook at the pumps confirmed my first thoughts, no credit card slots.
With that plan B took effect, I would have to return to 70 which would be lined with gas stations and of I trundled down a road with no speed limit sign towards an unseeable oasis in the gas station desert.
Mu dheireadh thall (at long last) a town of decent size came into view and blessedly giant signs advertising not one but two gas stations.
With the car filled I set out again with much less worry. Zipping along 70 smiling I realized that my careful plan to avoid the unknown by staying on the same road from my friends house to my brothers house had completely unraveled and that I was not worried at all about having to eventually wend my way back to my intended course in order to get to the motel in which I'd made a reservation.
Seeing a sign for the Museum of the Prairie I decided to check it out and stretch my legs at the same time. The museum turned out to be mostly the interesting collection of one family but did have some history of the area. I left a business card with them, in case they ever needed to know anything about Gaelic or Highland immigrants and the part they played in the settling of the west. As I drove on I thought of all the Scottish people who had flowed with the tide of settlers out onto the prairies so far from their homeland, whether they had left on their own or been forced out in the clearances, sailing the grass seas in search of a new home and carrying with them the heart memory of the highlands.
here is some music from today's sound track
Ciaradh an latha agus gathan na griene softening the landscape, the rocky peaks reaching towards the western sky. Tìr mo bhreith 's mo thogail. The world of sand, cactus and chamisa left behind for velvet green lawns roses, peonies and long time friends.
Chaidh mi gu taigh mo charaid. Tha sinne air a bhith nar caraidean fad 28 blidhna a-nis. B' abhaist dhuinn a' coiseachd dhan sgoil comhla a h-uile latha. There is something so sweet about sharing memories that go back that far. Tha sinn mar peathraichean. Tha dealbh air mo theaghach ann m' athair 's mo mhathair, mo phiuthar agus mo charaid. Chan eile cuimhne agam air cait an robh mi ach cha robh mi anns an dealbh co-dhiubh.
Caraidean eile an seo a tha gam cuideachadh leis a' char agam. Chan eil fios againn fhathast de tha cearr air ach tha e cho math gu bheil cuideigin eolach agus earbsach ag obair air.
Chan eil cinnt ann fhathast cait an teid mi, ma tha rudagan mòr cearr leis a char chan eil mi ag iarraidh gu bidh e a briseadh sios ann an meadhan Kansas mile mìlten bho luch eolas agam. Cumaidh mi mo chorragan crossed agus innsidh mi dhuibh ciamar a tha e a' dol.
Bhrist an latha ciuin agus fuar. Cha robh mi airson eirigh as mo leabaidh, an nead blath agam.
Bha an taigh agam nas glaine na bha e riamh deiseil airson an cat sitter agus mise air an rathad. Bha an latha air leth breagha adhar gorm gun sgòth idir. Torr nas fheàrr na an latha roimhe nuair a bha tornado ann.
Tha mòran uisge air a bhith ann agus mar sin bha a h-uile sion uaine agus bha mòran flùraichean ann cuideachd.
Tha an draibh eadar Crestone agus Boulder daonan nas fhaide na tha e nam cuimhne ach cha robh e dona a chionns gun robh m' athair comhla rium. Bha easan a' tighinn suas gu Boulder airson root canal.
Nuair a ruig sinn Boulder dh'fhàg mi e aig oifis na fiaclair agus chaidh mi gu taigh mo charaid.
As deidh beagan bruidhinn bha an t-àm ann airson m' athair a thogail. Air ar rathad dhan taigh caraid eile thachair sinn ri caraid eile nach robh mi air fhaicinn o chionn fhada. Bha e gle mhath ga fhacinn oir cha robh mi ann an touch ris.
Thill mi dhan àite far an robh mi a' fuireach agus far an robh mi a' dol a theagaisg buth obrach air matamataig 's a Ghàidhlig.
Bha ceathrar ann agus bha spòrs gu leòr againn. Rinn sinn cuir ris, thoir air falbh, uiread agus roinneadh agus beagan air bloighean cuideachd. Spòrs math a bh'ann agus bha e math a bhith am measg luchd labhairt na Gaidhlig eile. :)
astar an turas gu ruige seo: 216.5 mìltean
aireamh de duine: 7
So cuir a- mach mostly means to throw up (check out the G.I. Joe movie clip below to see it used as eject but I couldn't help but think he was telling the plane to throw him up and if that plane spoke Gaelic cough not Celtic cough, it really shouldn't have fired) but it can also mean 'launch' and this dual meaning seems very appropriate for me right now.
I'll explain that in a minute but first I want to say a Huge Thank You to everyone, everyone who has been reading this blog, everyone who has signed up for the mailinglist, everyone who helped out with the fundraising just everyone! Tapadh leibh gu mor! I am so very grateful to you all.
Alright now back to why cuir a-mach is the right title for today's post. I was going to be leaving today for the traveling part of the project and while I am super excited to be really getting started I have also manged to get into a state of supper high anxiety, like feeling like my throat is closing and all the blood leaving my extremities 'cause my body thinks it might be dying sort of anxiety. Yesterday was useless, I was supposed to get my whole house clean (extra clean, 'cause I don't know the cat sitter all that well) and the car clean and get the laundry done and pack and figure out what I will need for the three weeks I'll be gone. I got about 1% of that done then just spent the rest of the day freaking out. Now I feel like, I do go a bit crazy sometimes but I think it is possible to work with my own mind and I was able to get curious about why this was freaking me out so much. It seems like a mixture of worrying about my house and cat and just normal travel nerves and the an extra huge helping of 'oh my gosh what have I gotten my self into!!!" in terms of this project and the performances. There is a part of me that know that most likely I will do just fine and even if I totally bomb them it is just part of a path to getting good at performing which is where I want to be, however that part must have been on vacation yesterday. Thus the throwing up part. fortunately today feels much better and there is no harm in me leaving tomorrow. :)
Which gets us to the 'launch' part of cuir a-mach. Tomorrow I'll be heading out to Boulder to do a workshop on doing math in Gaelic with the Boulder Gaelic Study Group . This is where I started learning Gaelic and where some of my really good friends are :) also I love teaching math (up to about 5/6th grade level) I especially love teaching math in Gaelic, even times tables and fractions! So it should be really good.
I'm going to use this blog as a place to keep people up to date on this project as well as continuing to share my thoughts about Gaelic and my thoughts in Gaelic on lots of other things. So thanks again and keep looking here for updates. And now for the clip, try not to explode when you hear her pronunciation of 'teine' :)
My experiences with Gaelic have been positive, given I have met some people along the way that I haven't gotten along with all that well but we wouldn't have gotten along no matter what, it wasn't about Gaelic. I do have a tendency to be a bit oblivious at times and for the most part I have been letting people who are interested in Gaelic come to me and perhaps that is why I have not had to deal with some of the negativity that others tell me they face regarding Gaelic.
The vehemence with which some people dislike Gaelic always surprises me.
There are plenty of languages that I have no interest in learning and cultures that I don't feel any connection to but I don't dislike them, I'm not against them, in fact I wish them well. I am not even against English, which would in fact be a bit strange as it is my first language, but it is an easy position to fall into when working with minority languages that have become such because of English.
My feeling right now is that I can't fight against English. It would be futile and, I feel, somewhat counter productive. Instead I put all my energy into doing positive things for Gaelic and enjoying the company of people who are doing likewise. Lets not worry about all the negative folks out there but rather spend our time doing what we love for the language we love and supporting things that expand the Gaelic world, like new books, new music, new plays or films or Gaelic yoga classes or what ever enables Gaelic speakers to use Gaelic in all areas of our lives.
Gura math theid leibh agus cumaibh suas a' Gàidhlig
Under the green shade of the cottonwood tree, the ground covered with clover white flowers waiting for bees, I sat down my chair. Kiran came by to get out of the sun, stretching out briefly in the shade before running off to play again.
In the end there were 7 of us sitting in the grass singing and/or beating out the rhythms on our legs, waulking songs and puirt a beul.
One of the people there asked me "So what did Gaelic turn into?". I explained that Gaelic is still a living language and is spoken in Scotland and in Nova Scotia. That question is a big part of why I want to do this project.
Caroline has been involved with Gaelic for more than 18 years. She has degrees in Celtic Studies and Gaelic Medium Teaching.