The Ghillie Gazette

The January/February 2017 newsletter of the Portland Oregon Branch of the R.S.C.D.S.

From the President

Has anyone else noticed how January sneaks up with such astonishing (and speedy) regularity? Before we know it, it will be time for the workshop and ball and then the summer break. And of course this is also the season for resolutions. When I belonged to a gym, we regulars would hate January because all the machines would be taken by the Near Year’s resolutioners - for about three weeks or so - until they got tired of having one more thing to do before going home after a long day at work or just weren’t seeing the results they had hoped for after a few short weeks. That seems to be how we people are, we make a change and expect results instantly instead of a realistic slow and steady progress. This inevitably leads to failure and then self-recriminations and a return to old patterns. For some of us, it’s getting into a rut (this from the person who ate practically the same thing for lunch every day in elementary school), or maybe it’s never sticking with anything long enough to even make a tread pattern, much less a rut. Both ways are out of balance and a good reason for us to analyze why it is we do things the way we do.

This also applies to us in our reel lives as dancers. Clubs and individuals can fall into habits and before you know it, you’re saying “that’s the way we’ve always done it.” when a new person comes to a class and wants to know the reason behind something. Of course, some routines make sense, warm-ups before class, step practice, having two levels of classes to benefit both the newer dancer and the seasoned one. It can be difficult to find and keep a balance in something like Scottish Country Dancing, which has to maintain certain structures and features in order to retain its history and character - maintaining a strong and rich tradition without stifling the growth, and sometimes change, that will allow it to continue on. And so, since we’re Scottish Country Dancers and love challenges, let’s think about new ways to attract more dancers, new activities for us to enjoy together, or maybe even something different to have for lunch.

High Desert Dance Destination: Another First!

by Eunice MacKenzie

This last October 7 - 9, 2016, I decided to have another adventure. I have lived in Oregon for almost thirty years now, but I had yet to visit Sisters, Bend, or Redmond! To add insult to injury, I had not attended the popular annual High Desert Workshop & Ball. This was the twentieth anniversary, not-to-be-missed event!

I was fortuitously able to take a personal day off of work so I could travel with Martin MacKenzie and Holly Gibson that Friday. The sky was cloudy and gray, which is normal for October in Oregon, but it proved to be a lovely contrast for the vibrant fall foliage we passed along the way. We were well-trained by Holly to expect to stop at appropriate locations, which was not inconvenient.

We enjoyed stopping at the Detroit Lake Dam for photos and stretching. We also enjoyed a light lunch and espresso along the way. I did my fair share of “ooohing” and “aaahing” as we went. The sun decided to make an appearance when we reached the scenic town of Sisters. Even though the Ball was to be held there, we just passed through, as our final destination of that day was Fred’s house in Redmond.

There were other sites to see first, however. Dee Wright Observatory, along the McKenzie River, actually at the McKenzie Pass summit, was preeminent in our thoughts. This place was actually built of lava rock, and on a sunny day offers panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains. Unfortunately, we drove up into the clouds, but it was still amazing to see the observatory and so much lava! Martin and Holly explored the half-mile paved trail through the lava nearby. We saw several miles of lava flow after we left to continue our journey! For more information go to:

As we headed to Fred Kowolowski’s home, I recognized some road signs and realized I had actually been through Redmond before, although it was about thirty five years ago, and on Amtrak in the dark, to boot. In addition to Fred, at his home we were greeted by Tom and Liza Halpenny and John and Susan Shaw who had traveled separately. Sleeping arrangements were immediately apportioned, and as Martin and I had made plans to meet Jennifer Seelye at her business in Bend to join other dancers for a pre-ball walk-through, we dashed off.

Afterwards, Martin and I joined Jennifer, April Munks and her dad, Leonard, at the Oregon Spirit Distillery in Bend. Ironically, Martin and I had driven past a lot of distilleries in Scotland during the previous summer, but hadn’t found time to stop. Our table was right next to the large window view of part of the distillery, and we were visited by one of the owners! A couple of us used him as a cashier to buy some whiskey for the upcoming raffle. I also had my first Moscow Mule cocktail, which was pretty tasty and a nice accompaniment to our small meal.

The next morning came early and we traversed the Sisters Harvest Faire finding our way to The Belfry, a repurposed church, which was the Workshop and Ball location. We were taught by vivacious Marjorie McLaughlin from San Diego, CA. I enjoyed her interesting historical introductions to several of the dances she taught. Some of them apparently inspired Tom Halpenny to write an article about Hugh Foss in the previous newsletter! The High Desert Celtic Dancers were quite hospitable, treating us to a lovely lunch and friendly conversation.

Immediately after the workshop, there was a brief ball walk-through available, after which we headed back to Fred’s house to rest, eat and don our ball finery. On our drive back to The Belfry, we enjoyed the lovely sunset and enlisted Holly to take several pictures of it for us!

A couple of the dances at the Ball were appropriate to the location, The Three Sisters and Springs of Metolius. Of course there was the tribute to Marjorie McLaughlin, Round the Room Jig for Marjorie. The Ball was quite animated, and I really enjoyed the musicians, A Scottish Heart with guest musician Steve Scott. The High Desert Society had a well-done intermission performance, combining some dances devised by Susie Allely herself, High Desert Strathspey and The Oregon Tartan Reel. This can be seen performed at a different location at:

The next morning came quickly, and we were treated to breakfast by Fred, himself, who prepared toast, eggs and bacon for all who wanted it. Afterward, we all said our goodbyes and headed homeward. Martin thoughtfully planned our direction to go through Smith Rock, and Holly was not averse to seeing and photographing facets of a different viewpoint. I met a forest ranger there who was relatively new to Oregon and had never been to the Portland area yet!

We made a few other stops along the way, e.g., a distant view of The Sisters and The Huckleberry Inn in Government Camp. I just had to order a slice of Huckleberry pie to go there, as my last tribute to my beloved huckleberry! I enjoyed the journey, even when the rain started as we got closer to Portland. I loved seeing the fall colors!!

In conclusion, an excursion to the High Desert is a worthy experience, and I’m glad I went!

Trinity College Treasure

by Liza Halpenny

Helen Returns to Her Office

Helen McGinley climbed the narrow library ladder to retrieve an ancient volume. With practiced gentleness she opened “The Art of Dancing, Demonstrated by Characters and Figures,” to reveal hieroglyphic portrayals of dancing in the year 1706. A fascinating precursor to our own Pillings diagrams of Scottish Country Dance. Helen, a Scottish Country Dancer in Dublin and employee of Trinity College, gave a private tour of the Long Room to Tom and me. Trinity College was established in 1592 in order to bring Ireland into the mainstream of European learning and to strengthen the Protestant Reformation within the country. Its Old Library also houses the Book of Kells, an illuminated Gospel manuscript believed to have been created around 800 AD. No photos are allowed, but we can see pictures of some of the pages here:

Many thanks to fellow-dancer Helen for enriching our visit to her fair city.

Remembering Don Morrison

by Tom Halpenny

Don Taylor Morrison

Friends of Don Morrison said goodbye November 26, 2016. Don began Scottish dancing about the same time as several of us in 1997. Don's wife Marie gave him the idea for a fun activity during his retirement. We had the pleasure of Don's company at many classes and dances over the years. Don presented the Vancouver USA Scottish Country Dancers with a banner at his 80th birthday party in 2004, to display at the group's public events.

Don was the star dancer for the 2008 Betwixt and Between Celtic Tap performance. Here is a video of Don having a fun time dancing at the 2010 Dinner dance. Don liked to photograph Scottish dance activities. He prepared this video of the 2011 Betwixt and Between event for us to enjoy. We can learn more about Don's life and his many interests from the obituary:

Dr. Donald Taylor Morrison passed on November 13,2016 at his home in Vancouver (Felida), Washington, surrounded by family, one week after suffering a stroke and aneurysm. He was 92 years old and died eleven days before celebrating his 67th wedding anniversary. Donald "Don" was born July 9, 1924 in Port Townsend, WA to Dr. Albert Taylor Morrison and Alma June Austin Morrison, a nurse. The child of Public Health Service workers, he lived across the country including Valdez, Alaska (1926); Edmonds, Washington (1926); San Francisco, California (1927); and New York (1928) where his father worked on Ellis Island as a medical examiner for immigrants. They were later stationed abroad in Belfast, Northern Ireland (1930) where Don attended a French girls school. In 1933 the family moved to Warsaw, Poland before moving to Detroit, Michigan (1934); Seattle, Washington (1938); and Galveston, Texas. He was an Eagle Scout, graduating valedictorian from Ball High School in Texas in 1940.

He received his undergraduate degree from Rice University in Houston and pursued a medical degree at Tulane University in New Orleans. He met his wife, Marie Louise Davies of Ponchatoula, Louisiana, while doing rotations at Charity Hospital. She was a senior student at Charity School of Nursing. He first asked her out to a dance on a dare from his fellow medical students. They were married November 24,1949. He received his M.D. degree in June 1950 and moved to Portland, Oregon, where he was a resident at Providence Hospital. The family moved to Hazel Dell, Washington in 1956 and eventually settled in Felida, Washington in 1968. In his early 20s, Don served in the Navy, receiving a medical discharge after contracting tuberculosis. He served as a medic in the Korean War and spent a short time in a M.A.S.H. unit. Qualified in Pathologic Anatomy, Don was licensed to practice medicine in 1956, and became a Fellow of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists in 1958, a Fellow of the College of American Pathologists in 1962 and certified as a Clinical Pathologist by the American Board of Pathology in. He was the director of the Medical Laboratory at Vancouver Memorial Hospital and directed NW Medical Laboratories in Northwest Portland for more than two decades. He and his wife, Nurse Practitioner, Marie Morrison, founded Hospice of Clark County in 1978.

Upon retirement, Don developed a love of Scottish Country Dancing and was a member of the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society until the age of 88. In Felida, the family raised horses, ponies, peacocks, cows, Scottish Terriers, goats, and chickens. He was a classical pianist, photographer, wood-worker, gentleman farmer, avid skier, golfer, and an academic. He continued to bus and Max to Portland for medical conferences, relearned French, taught himself calculus, baked bread, made homemade jellies, and cared for his wife. He continually inspired his family and friends with his insatiable desire for knowledge, his soft, gentle kindness, generosity, subtle and witty humor, independence, and strength.

Don is survived by his wife of nearly 67 years, Marie Davies Morrison; younger siblings, Dr. Richard L. Morrison, and Carolyn (Kipper) Cowan; two sisters-in-law, Leslie Lauderback and Beverly Davies; five children, Elizabeth Gaile (Lara) Morrison, Donald A. Morrison (Suzan), Robert B. Morrison (Su), Jeanne M. Morrison Galarneau, and Susan R. Wolf (John); and granddaughters, Genevieve L. Galarneau, and Nicole R. Galarneau.

Teacher’s Corner

by Melissa (Mel) Whitson

Although I now have met many of the local Scottish Country dancers, please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Melissa Whitson but am often called Mel. I am the most recent addition to the Portland Branch’s teacher line-up. I was born and raised in southern Michigan in a smallish town, Jackson. I found Scottish Country Dancing when I was 31. After college graduation, I had moved to the near west suburbs of Chicago. My husband Ken and I attended a Beginner’s Open House that the Chicago branch hosted and we were hooked. Hooked on the dance form, the dance formations, the friendly people, the stirring music, and the great treats served during social time.

I studied for my preliminary teacher’s certificate at TAC’s summer school teachers’ course in Canada and passed the teaching exam in 1995 when Headquarters sent a set of examiners on a North American tour. In 1999, I travelled to St. Andrews, Scotland, to attend teachers’ classes at summer school there, and successfully passed the examinations to be a fully certified teacher while at St. Andrews.

I taught for a number of years with the Chicago branch and danced on their demo team. However, until we moved to Portland at the end of April of 2016, I had not been teaching for over seven years. This is because we had been living overseas where there were no teaching opportunities. Upon returning to Chicago, I was caught up with other endeavors and only rarely danced and did not teach. So I am still feeling a bit rusty as well as out of touch with recently published dances. Your patience is appreciated as I get back up to speed!

I am thrilled to have found Portland and Vancouver area dancers to be such welcoming and warm people, and good dancers too (and good cooks)! I’m enjoying working with Don, Linda Mae and Debbie, who have each been gracious and supportive of my teaching efforts.

Well, enough about me. This being the Teacher’s Corner after all, I’d like to share a few tips for giving and receiving a good turn:

  • Give weight and counter balance to the other dancer. This doesn’t mean hard squeezing of hands. The strength of a turn comes from the shoulder and upper arm muscles. Use those muscles to pull/lean yourself a bit away from the other dancer. If both of you give a little pull/weight, you will counter balance each other. This enables you to turn more comfortably and effectively. You will feel truly connected to that other dancer –especially if you look them in the eye. In quick time, you will feel like you are levitating around each other.
  • Vary the length of your arm with the music and number of bars you have to turn. For example, in a strathspey turn once round in two bars, you have time to be gracious and have a more elongated arm length. But if that strathspey turn is one and a half (like in the middle of turn corner, partner, corner, partner), you need to shorten the arm length.
  • By varying the arm length, you are changing the size of the circle that your feet are travelling during the turn; shorter arm = shorter distance to travel – particularly useful in quick time, two-bar turns. Be aware of the tendency to twist the wrist (and the wrist of the other dancer) as a means to shorten the distance between you and the other dancer during quick turns. This can cause injury and should be avoided.
  • The height where hands are held is very important! They should be joined about shoulder high of the shorter person for quick turns and can be a bit lower for slower turns. They should not be at the waist or lower chest. Check yourself when you next execute a turn during a dance.
  • Pay attention to your elbows. They should generally be pointing down and not out to the side.
  • Do release hands in time to allow yourself and the other dancer to travel on to the next place you/they need to be.
  • The other dancer should not have to dance around you as you stay mostly in one spot. Be ready to turn and start by dancing toward the other dancer in a circular track.


submitted by Mel Whitson

Excerpts from A Year in a Scots Kitchen by Catherine Brown

Haggis “appears to have found its way to Scotland via Ancient Greece, Rome, France and England, but until Burns there was nothing particularly Scottish about it. Recipes appear in English cookery books at the same time the ‘Address’ was written. But Burns strikes the celebratory note, dear to Scottish hearts, while at the same time honoring something which has little, if any, visual appeal. It was appropriate that he should celebrate a haggis. Do not judge by appearances, he says. Honor the honest virtues of sense and worth, not in French ragouts and fricassees, but in a more democratic dish which makes the least attractive parts of an animal into something worth celebrating.

Around 1801, five years after his death, the first Burns club was formed in Greenock. In 1805 Paisley had formed a club, and two years later Kilmarnock.

The Edinburgh literati, including Sir Walter Scott and Alexander Boswell, son of the biographer James Boswell, had their first Burns celebration in 1815 and resolved to have one every three years. In London, Scots along with some English poets had a Burns anniversary supper in 1819. But it was not until 1885 that The Burns Federation was formed with 51 Burns Club members.

In the two centuries since his death a worldwide cult has developed with deep roots founded on the poet’s appeal, not just to the literati, but to everyone. Though there may be greater poets, none have surpassed Burns in touching the spirit which bonds people of all nations, creeds and colors. For Scots, he is among a handful of makars who have writer from the heart in their own tongue, adding an emotional nostalgia to Burns suppers with the color and character of the rarely heard native Scots language.

The proceedings for the night may be formal or informal. A formal supper organized by a Burns club begins when all the guests are seated with a piper entering the room, followed by the cook or chef carrying the chieftain haggis – from 5-10 kg (10-20 lbs) – on a large ashet. Behind him comes the waiter with a bottle of whisky. The procession then walks sunwise round the company, ending up at the chairman of the club, who takes the whisky from the waiter and pours out two glasses. The piper stops playing, the haggis is placed on the table and the piper and the chef are given whiskies.

A guest then recites ‘The Address’, plunging a dirk into it and cutting a St Andrews Cross on the top, turning back the flaps and inserting the serving spoon. Before the meal begins someone will recite Burns’ Selkirk Grace:

  • Some hae meat, and canna eat,
    And some wad eat, that want it,
    But we hae meat and we can eat,
    And sae the Lord be thankit.

The meat for the meal, besides the haggis, should be in keeping with the festive fare of hamely folk, the traditional menu can be written in Scots and might include: Het Kail (a broth); Caller Fish (fresh fish); The Haggis; Het Joints (meat or poultry, usually roasted): Ither orra Eattocks (sweets and puddings): and Gusty Kickshaws (hot savories).

The meal over, there are the toasts, accompanied by glasses of whisky. Firstly The Queen, proposed by the Chairman, followed by The Immortal Memory, proposed by the guest of Honor. There may be other informal toasts, but there is usually a formal proposal and reply to both The Guests and The Lassies. The evening’s entertainment continues, usually dominated by Burns songs. The ending is a communal singing of Auld Lang Syne when everyone joins hands in a circle and when the fifth verse is reached – And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere – everyone crosses their arms in front and grasps their neighbor’s hands again, thus contracting the circle. As people come closer together, they move their arms rhythmically up and down, and at the end giving a rousing three cheers for auld acquaintances, the world o’er.

Haggis – Though the method has remained more or less constant over the years, the ingredients have varied. Fifteenth-century recipes use the liver and blood of the sheep, while later in the 17th century a meatless Haggas Pudding in a Sheep’s Paunch uses parsley, savory, thyme, onions, beef suet, oatmeal, cloves, mace, pepper and salt, sewn up and boiled; served with a hole cut in the top and filled with butter melted with two eggs.

Another recipe uses a calf’s paunch, and the entrails, minced together with grated bread, yolks of eggs, cream, spices, dried fruits and herbs, served as a sweet with sugar and almonds. Meg Dods has what she calls a ‘finer haggis’, made by parboiling and skinning sheep’s tongues and kidneys, and substituting these minced, for most of the lights (lungs), and soaked bread or crisped crumbs for the toasted meal (oatmeal).”

Note from Mel: Meg Dods was the purported author of ‘The Cook and Housewife’s Manual’ which was first published in Edinburgh in 1826 and went through 19 editions. However, Meg was actually a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel ‘St Ronan’s Well’ and the author was in fact the journalist and editor Isobel Christian Johnston.

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?