The Ghillie Gazette

The July/August 2014 newsletter of the Portland Oregon Branch of the R.S.C.D.S.

The Loon Mountain Reel

Dancing the Loon Mountain Reel at Open Source Bridge 2014

President’s Message

by Martin Mac​Kenzie

As we all know, while I was away on business, somehow I was elected to be President/Chairperson of our illustrious little club!

In brief, this coming year, my idea is to foster fun, friendship, and gentle conviviality in the context of our dancing and celebration of Scotland’s culture. At the same time, I’ll count on our cadre of excellent teachers to keep our feet moving and our brains a churnin’ and, as we have events such as the various monthly dances and our workshop and ball, please come and step up to the plate and perform various tasks to help keep all the gears smoothly turning.

As has been announced, our participation in the Portland Highland Games is somewhat different this year what with our transition from customary demonstrations during the day as in previous years, to Ceilidh dancing towards the evening. Please either sign up in class or come visit us at the Highland Dance Competition stage starting at 4:00pm Saturday afternoon, July 19.

See all y’all on the dance floor!

Updated Officers 2014-15

by Linda Gertz, Out-going President

I want to thank Martin for agreeing to be the new president. I’m sure everyone will give him the support and help he needs.

The 2014-15 officers are:

  • Chairman – Martin Mac​Kenzie
  • Vice Chairman – Sally Palmer
  • Secretary – Cathi Chlebnikow
  • Treasurer – Pat Taylor
  • Member at large – Holly Gibson
  • Teacher Coordinator – Linda Mae Dennis

Thought for the moment: Giving of yourself is the best gift you can give.

Teacher’s Corner

by Linda Mae Dennis

We’re about to wrap up dancing for the season, and kick back for a couple of months. What?!

Even though we’re not dancing regularly, the reason that we do Scottish country dancing still holds. Regular exercise for both your body and your brain, coupled with social contact is really good for you. So it’s not so much a time to do nothing as a time to do different things. And we are extremely lucky to live in an area where the summer is wonderful – not too hot, and not too rainy or humid. So you can invite a couple of your dancing friends or your family to take a hike or bike ride and have a picnic. There might be time to try swimming, rowing, canoeing, paddle boarding, sailing, or kite surfing. You could plan to walk to the store or to a movie – it stays light so late that there’s even time after work. Or you could work on the yard – landscaping, or working through some of those around-the-house projects that have been put off for too long (among other things, window washing is on my list). There’s golf, tennis, volleyball, soccer, horseshoes – so many ways to stay active through the summer.

To stay mentally active, there are crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, logic puzzles, and new projects or hobbies that test your mental acuity, like sewing, knotwork, or building a dodecahedron (bucky ball) with toothpicks.

Of course, there are still some dancing opportunities. The Southwest Washington State Branch picnic is coming up on July 13th, there’s a ceilidh at the Portland Highland Games on July 19th, there might be a Fifth Tuesday Social Dance on July 29th (stay tuned – details to follow) and the Portland Branch picnic is Saturday, August 23rd. Our Portland Branch classes break for the summer after Monday, July 14 and start up again on Monday, September 8.

Starting over in September is always exciting. You’ll get to see friends that you haven’t seen for a while, greet others that you have played with over the summer, and hopefully meet some new people who are trying out Scottish country dancing for the first time – possibly people you have met doing your summer activities and brought along.

There’s nothing worse than coming back from a summer break only to realize that you can barely dance because you’ve been sitting on the patio eating hot dogs for two months, your muscles are weak, and your lung capacity is down to nothing. So, stay well, stay active, and have a great summer.

Maureen Sloan Requests for Photos for Photobooks

by Marcy Sherfy, editor

Maureen Sloan requests photos of the Portland Branch activities taken in 2013 and 2014. She would like to add them to the photobooks similar to the one she made for 2012. Photos can be emailed directly to Maureen at .

SW WA Picnic, Sunday, July 13, 2014

Royal Scottish Country Dance Society
SW WA State Branch Sumptuous Summer Picnic

Sunday, July 13, 2014
Noon to 4:00 p.m.
Lunch at 1:00 ~ Dancing after lunch

Fairgrounds Community Park (near the Clark County Fairgrounds), 216 NW 164th St.

Additional Information: Linda Mae 360-609-0623;

Directions: From I-5, take the NE 179th St exit and head West, turn left at the first signal onto Delfel Rd, which becomes NE 10th Ave., turn right onto NE 164th St., turn right into the park.

What to bring:

  • Your family
  • A main dish for yourself
  • A dish to share: salads, veggies, desserts, etc.
  • Tableware: plate, fork, cup, cloth napkin, etc.
  • Games: croquet, bocce ball, frisbee, etc.
  • Sturdy Shoes for a walk in the woods

Water provided.

See the printable flyer.

Portland Picnic, Saturday, August 23, 2014

August is Picnic Time!

Join the Portland Royal Scottish County Dancers
Saturday - August 23, 2014 at Tualatin Community Park – The Rustic Shelter

Join us at 5:30 for a picnic – bring your own main course plus a dish to share!

Join us for dancing - After the eating and visiting

Time to make S’More’s at the old rock fireplace by our shelter when we are done dancing. Then time to relax, gaze into the flames of the fire & remember good times we have shared.

Directions to Tualatin Community Park – Rustic Shelter:

  1. From I-5 take Exit 289 toward Tualatin/Sherwood
  2. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for Nyberg St/City Center Sherwood
  3. At the 4th traffic light (McDonald’s is at the intersection) - turn right onto SW Boones Ferry Rd – keep straight & it will turn into SW Tualatin Rd (at a stoplight it will say straight for Tualatin Road or turn for Boones Ferry Rd – go straight)

  4. You are heading for a really big curve towards the left – instead go straight to where you see a railroad trestle. You can continue under the trestle for parking or you can turn up by the trestle and park at the spots underneath it.

To see a map of the park to go:

Questions? Contact Martin Mackenzie at 503-656-7158

See the printable flyer.

Suttle Lake Dance Camp

by Tom Halpenny

Liza and Tom Halpenny attended their first English and Scottish Dance Camp Weekend June 6-8, 2014 at the Suttle Lake camp near Sisters Oregon, hosted for the 25th year by the Heather and the Rose Country Dancers. Liza taught the Scottish country dance workshop, while Sharon Green from Berkeley California taught the English country dance workshop. Musicians for the weekend were Betsy Branch (fiddle), Leslie Hirsch (fiddle), Lisa Scott (piano), and Seth Goldman (bassoon).

We arrived 4:30pm after a leisurely drive, with a side visit to Silver Falls State Park for a 1-hour hike that took us underneath the falls. We settled into our room among the beautiful surroundings of tall trees and met our fellow dancers numbering about 45. We recognized several friends from other Scottish dance events and new friends we met on our January visit to the Roseburg Midwinter Party.

The weekend was a great way to get to know everyone within the lodge where we danced and ate. Tables were set up for meals and taken down for dancing. Delicious, healthful meals were prepared by revered chef, Annie. The Friday evening dance welcomed everyone with a sample of dancing to the fantastic music. I finished the day with 25,000 pedometer steps. Saturday was a full day of dance workshops, and we briefly rested up for the high-energy evening ball. The intermission featured Alixe Dancer’s famous berry cobbler and ice cream. I finished the day with 29,000 pedometer steps. (A typical SCD day is 15,000 steps.) Sunday morning featured a review of the favorite dances of the weekend. We said our goodbyes to friends and fit in a side trip to nearby lava formations, and drove home, finishing the day with 19,000 pedometer steps and pleasant memories with dance friends in the beautiful setting.

We can visit the Heather and Rose website to learn about their program . H&R is a statewide network of dance groups in Oregon which teach both English and Scottish Country Dance and use global terminology for teaching. The Eugene group hosts a Harvest Ball, the Roseburg group hosts a Midwinter Party, and the Ashland group hosts the Spring Ball. The groups dance two-thirds English and one-third Scottish dances.

Global terminology refers to a dancer’s position within the dance rather than gender. The “men’s side” is called “left file” and the “ladies’ side” is called “right file”. Dancers form sets by lining up individually on either file, and whoever appears on the opposite file is their partner. We can also line up with a partner, with a little jockeying for position, as single dancers form in front. I found the practice refreshing and efficient. It didn’t matter whether I knew anyone. My dance partner appeared and could be either gender. I enjoyed the variety of forming sets on the right file and dancing familiar Scottish dances from the unfamiliar side. I can imagine how the practice can help one improve their dancing skills.

A quality I liked about Heather and Rose is their interest to dance both English and Scottish dance, which I have discovered can be a rare quality among folk dancers to dance more than a single dance form. I was able to add Donna to my list of Dauntless Dancers, friends who have danced three folk dance forms with me one time. I had met Donna at a Contra dance last December.

Chopped Nuts Chocolate Swirls
Chopped Nuts and Chocolate Swirls

If You Can Follow the Code, You Can Dance!

by Tom Halpenny

I was fortunate to be part of the dance team who helped Darrick Wong present Scottish country dance at the Open Source Bridge conference June 26, 2014. We can read the abstract of the presentation Aided by ten dancers, including three teachers and a fiddler, Darrick demonstrated four Scottish dances and described how the figures of a dance flow sequentially like a computer program, and how the testing of a new dance is similar to testing a new computer program for correct operation. My fellow dancers smoothly traveled the figures to the fiddle tunes of Maggie Hannahs.

I was curious who would attend Darrick’s innovative presentation? All six audience members enthusiastically accepted the invitation for the final “Loon Mountain Reel” dance with six-couples. I had previously met Sonia at an International folk dance, and she also writes computer programs. The room’s fifty seats filled for the next conference session. So I was able to deduce the general aversion that engineers have for dancing.

This reminds me of my experience with fellow Hewlett Packard engineers. Liza taught a weekly lunchtime SCD class at HP, with John Shaw and myself as support members. A surprising result was that the majority of these supposedly creative engineers lacked the curiosity to walk 100 feet to a conference room to try something new. The negative response is an example where people are psychologically blocked from exploring, so therefore there is probably a rich set of discoveries to be made. We can read the newsletter item “Scottish Country Dance Comes to Hewlett Packard”

Thanks to Darrick Wong, Don Gertz, Linda Gertz, Maureen Sloan, Linda Mae Dennis, Patrick Hogan, Liza Halpenny, Tom Halpenny, Janice Taylor, Maggie Faber, and Maggie Hannahs, for teaming up for such an unusual venue Scottish dancing.

Alasdair Fraser’s Sierra Fiddle Camp, June 14-22, 2014

by Stephen Hui

Our family’s annual visit to the Alasdair Fraser Sierra Fiddle Camp is a trip I look forward to because of the great music experience, the chance to observe and learn from great musicians. There are also opportunities to play music with fellow campers.

The drive coming down I-5 was smooth and we stopped by our favorite fast food place, In-N-Out Burger. Even though the sky was overcast, I was confident that we would have a dry week at the Shady Creek Outdoor School camp site, snuggled deep in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, near central California between Sacramento and Reno.

Registration and welcome introduction to the camp was festive. Campers were catching up with each other after a year-long separation. I couldn’t help but notice that some of the kids grew a few inches since I last saw them. The first evening ended with the traditional impromptu dance party where all the kids just could not contain their excitement of seeing each other and the music seemed to be going on and on forever.

We found our class locations, and soon began to hear new fiddle tunes echoing throughout the camp site. There was dancing every night and I could see it taking a toll on some of the older campers, but it didn’t seem to affect young campers that much, although I did notice some sleeping bags with bodies in them during the free time.

The camp featured music from a group of Swedish musicians, another team with American tradition (country folk), and the one and only Scottish fiddler Alasdair himself. The concert given by the instructors was a great treat – many of the instructors are well known recording artists. The Swedes brought their rich traditional music fused with their creative twists of rhythm and interpretation. It was delightful to see young musicians blossoming in front of our eyes in just one year of time. Many of the camp staff teachers were one time campers themselves and now performing all over the world, besides coming back to their roots to help raise up the next generation of musicians.

Ceilidh night was hilarious as usual with some of the acts depicting various camper characters, especially the ones about the camp staff or instructors – they always seem to be spot-on the special body language, the way they talk, or special phrases used by the characters. The talents and creativity of the campers were just awesome.

Final concert was the most anticipated event where the whole week’s learning experience climaxed. Rehearsal started with the rhythm section of guitar, cellos, and pianos. Alasdair is a master at drawing out the essence of each tune, and skillfully weaves into each piece the mesmerizing groove he wants. In fact he asked the rehearsal to be video recorded in case it would happen to be the perfect sound he was hoping to create. There were great fiddling, singing, and dancing performances led by Alasdair and Natalie Haas, Brittany Haas, Jayme Stone, Moire Smiley, Laura Cortese, and a special guest bagpiper, the local orchestra and choral music director Ryan Murray. The audience was thrilled by the electrifying performance from the Swedes.

A wound-down lasagna dinner followed after the concert. Many campers reflected on the week’s experience, expressed thank-you’s, and gave credits to fellow campers and staff, especially the ones who worked tirelessly in the background. I was exhausted but felt good about the experience. As we drove down the mountain, many of the faces, and tunes were circling through my mind and accompanied us on our way home.

Fiddle Camp
Fiddle Camp

by Linda Gertz

Scottish Dancing Word Search Puzzle

















Upcoming Events

Here's a list of events coming up in the next ninety days. This calendar is kept up to date at

April 2019

Vancouver, Wash.
4/27 at 6:00pm

May 2019

Burlingame Water Tower, Portland, Ore.
5/11 at 7:30pm
Portland AGM
Burlingame Water Tower, Portland, Ore.
5/20 at 7:30pm

June 2019

Portland Class
Burlingame Water Tower, Portland, Ore.
6/3 at 7:30pm


If you want to vote in the Annual General Meeting (AGM), your membership must be renewed before the Meeting, which is the second Monday in May.

If your are not a current member, you can register here.

Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, Portland Ore. Branch:
Membership Form 2018-2019

Membership Type:

Note for families: Join at the family rate only if there are two adults; a single adult should join at the single rate.

A “secondary” membership is for people who already have their RSCDS membership through another branch and want to become members of our branch. The “Ghillie Gazette Only” option is for people who have not yet decided to join the branch but would like to receive the newsletter.

Please make check payable to “RSCDS Portland OR Branch” and mail or give to Sally Palmer, 1425 SE Yukon St., Portland, OR 97202-5315 . We cannot process your membership request until we receive your check.

Is Scottish Country Dance fun?