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"The ancestor of every action is a thought." Ralph Waldo Emerson


Desperate Genie Travels to Scotland: Days Three and Four

So it's been a few days since I visited these locations, didn't reach my goal of blogging everyday. But when you don't have WIFI in your hotel accommodations (GRRRR) it makes blogging on the reg a little difficult. We have been having a BLAST in Scotland. The highlands are absolutely gorgeous, vistas like I've never seen.

Scotland is home to many historic castles and we really enjoyed our trip to Cawdor Castle. Located in Nairn, this "fairytale" castle is beautiful and well maintained (probably from the £9 adult entrance fee!). The estate is inhabited by the late wife of Hugh Campbell, 6th Earl and 25th Thane of Cawdor, during the months of Oct.-Apr. Can you even imagine what it's like for someone to actually live in a medieval castle!? Photography isn't allowed inside, but the place is full of beautiful antiques and extraordinary family memorabilia dating back 700 years! In my opinion the entrance fee is a little high, but I would definitely suggest checking it out! We ate at their cafe and were very satisfied with our meal.  

Next on our sightseeing route was a visit to the prehistoric Clava Cairns. These burial cairns are over 4,000 years old (very hard to comprehend!). Stones are piled in circles with narrow pathways leading to their center.

The 2 cairns are surrounded by tall standing stones in a very specific circular pattern. Studies have discovered that the entrance pathways to the center are positioned so that during the winter solstice the sun would shine brightly into the center. This place was surreal and a little creepy! And as you can see from the picture it was a very chilly/windy day.

In the next edition of Desperate Genie Travels to Scotland: Days Five and Six...Eilean Donan Castle, Isle of Sky, and the Glenelg Brochs.



Desperate Genie Travels to Scotland: Days One and Two

Hello from Scotland! I've been traveling a lot lately, my current position is the Highlands of Scotland! This is my first trip to the UK and so far it's been great. Normally when I travel I find blogging impossible and I'm trying to break that pattern. I spent the past month in sunny southern California and the transition to northern Scotland has my body shocked from the time zone and temperature changes. The weather here is a constant mix of cloudy/rainy/windy with intermittent sunshine with an average temperature somewhere in the 50's.

We first visited the William Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland. I have to admit- I've never seen the movie Braveheart, but I now know the main character is based off the actions of William Wallace. I was still a little jet lagged and awake for the 20 something hour in a row so I didn't take any pictures. But it was a beautiful spot with amazing views of Stirling.

A scenic drive through the rural roads of the highlands followed. We saw Highland Cows, "eeland coos" as pronounced by the locals. We've had fun saying their name. They are so cute with their long shaggy hair!

"eeland coo"

We made our way to the picturesque town of Elgin to visit the magnificent ruins of Elgin Cathedral. The remains of this church and the cemetery that surrounds are just beautiful.

To avoid most tourist routes, we have been taking many small back roads to get a feel for the real Scottish Highlands. While driving down a small road near Dulsie we spotted a sign for an ancient Scottish landmark, the Ardclach Bell Tower. I am SO happy we made the stop. This might be one of the coolest off the map places I've ever experienced. It's located off a very remote road and even when you get to the primitive staircase leading up a tall hill- you still have no idea what you are about to to see!

The Ardclach Bell Tower, circa 1655, is an open landmark and it seemed like we were the only people for miles! Located on top of a small hill, this tiny small building is a relic bell tower and rumored prison with sprawling views of the country hillside. It was beautiful and breathtaking. You can even ring the bell!



Stay tuned for more travel updates! If you have an ancestor or relative from Northern Scotland and you'd like to request a picture of a place like a house, cemetery, or headstone- please contact me! I'll be here for another week.

In the next edition of Desperate Genie Travels to Scotland: Days Three and Four...Cawdor Castle and The Clava Cairns.


Genie Newspaper Archives- The Schenectady Gazette Sep 13, 1982

I was going through old newspapers when I found this lovely gem! My husband grew up in Schenectady, NY and his parents saved the Schenectady Gazette from the day he was born.

I'm not looking to get all political here, but a front page story "Congress Spurs $1 B Jobs Bill", caught my attention. I feel like I've heard a similar story in the news lately... The American Jobs Act perhaps? :) History tends to repeat itself and the issues facing the government 29 years ago feel very similar to the obstacles of today. The Jobs Act of 1982 was estimated to cost $1 billion, the American Jobs Act of 2011 is estimated to cost about $447 billion. The Jobs Act of 1982 never became law.

From the Schenectady Gazette of Schenectady NY- September 13, 1982 Front Page

Congress Spurs $1 B Jobs Bill, By Tom Raum
Washington (AP)- Congressional Democrats, trying to ride the momentum of their veto override victory, plan to seek quick action in the House this week on a $1 billion jobs program opposed by the Reagan administration.

The Democratic initiative, which backers claim could put 200,000 unemployed to work on bridge and highway repair projects around the nation by the end of the year, seems certain to touch off a week of heightened partisan bickering. With congressional elections less than two months away, the remaining battles of the almost expired 97th Congress are expected to be dominated by politics. Democrats, who have won few skirmishes since the 1980 elections, remained exhilarated from the 60-30 Senate and 301-117 House votes last week overriding President Reagan’s veto of the $14.2 billion spending bill he deemed too costly.

Hoping to strike again while ahead, Democratic leaders decided late last week to try to bring the jobs bill to the House floor, out of schedule, by mid week. “Now seemed like a good time to try to get this thing moving. If we can get two-thirds to override a veto, we should be able to get the votes needed for a jobs bill.” said a Democratic leadership aide who asked not to be identified.

“I can no longer accept in good conscience the president’s plea for patience. The American people need to see action now before it is too late.” said House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, D-Mass, commenting on the bill. “The costs of unemployment now outweigh the cost of putting people back to work,” said O’Neill, in a statement yesterday. “Today we are paying out more than $20 billion in unemployment compensation alone. This says nothing of the lost output, the lost revenues, that result from today’s high unemployment.”

O’Neil said that funding for the program would equal 5 percent of the cost of the country’s unemployment compensation bill. Congress is in its final push before a scheduled early October adjournment.

The announcement last week by congressional leaders that they would not call a post-election “lame duck” session to deal with problems in the Social Security system meant that all the remaining work of the session must be done in the next tree weeks. Since the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1, the priority for Congress is to provide the money needed to run the government. But of 10 appropriations bills to fund federal agencies, only one- military construction- has been approved by either chamber of Congress.

Do you save old newspapers? I save what I can, but my small Brooklyn apartment can only house so many papers and books! If you don't want to bother saving them, you can always scan stories of interest! I recommend scanning all paper documents- every time you touch the paper the oils and dirt from your gentle handling slowly damage the quality. 


Jacqueline Kennedy's Oral History- Just Released! 

The Kennedy family has been in the media spotlight for decades, but it's the voice of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy that had me fascinated this week.

The newly released book,  "Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy", has everybody talking. Jackie Kennedy lends her voice to ensure her husbands memorial. A taped interview has been kept locked away until now!


This family often keeps a tight seal on personal information, but her daughter Caroline Kennedy thought the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's presidency was the right time. The world should be able to hear this historic conversation.

The interview was conducted by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a special assistant to JFK during this presidency and an admired historian. She shared uncensored memories of her former life as first lady and the wife of the notorious JFK.

During the ABC special hosted by Diane Sawyer, Caroline Kennedy was asked if any edits were made to the tapes. Caroline's response really stuck with me. She declined any edits and believed that once you start editing a piece of oral history, it's hard to know when to stop. She wanted to share her mother's uncensored voice with the public to serve as a true memorial to their experience.

I'm a huge fan of Jackie. She kept it real and exposed herself to a world that wasn't yet ready for what she had to say. But nevertheless she won everyone over and continues to be an icon for women everywhere. And now with her voice, she shares their story with the world.

A few months ago I read "Jack and Jackie: Portrait of an American Marriage" and loved it! On my book shelf to be read: "American Legacy: The Story of John & Caroline Kennedy".