Sunday, May 10, 2015

Farewell To The Nest, Hillsdale College

Farewell To The Nest

The Nest - 354 West Street, Hillsdale, MI
Upon my daughter Maran’s graduation and departure from Hillsdale College May 2015

Stunning speakers, (Michael Ward and Larry Arnn), punctuated the commencement festivities at Hillsdale College this year.  Maran's activities on this memorable day began with saying grace and singing  with the Chamber Choir at the President's Club breakfast. She also sang with the choir during the Commencement Program.

Our parental duties included assisting as she moved out her belonging from "The Nest", her final college home.

Farewell to “The Nest”
Whose birdies have flown   
Students are leaving
Your boughs are alone.
Soon Michaelmas comes
When fresh shouts will fall
And your walls resonate
With new singing and call.

Farewell to the chimes
From the tower on the hill,
Tolling the hours
Of each day until,
New faces appear
Both eager and keen
To take flight from the home
Which is now but a dream.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Trial by Fire - The Corey Rose Story

Los Angeles Fire Department commander gives his survival testiment
Dr. Neil McLeod and Battalion Commander Corey Rose LAFD at the Men's Ministry - Grace Community Church

The fire was raging. Thousands of acres had already gone up in flames. The tall pine forest was an exploding glowing furnace.  Then the wind shifted and increased in speed, and on his own, on the road to Hell Hole, a fireman asked himself what kind of mistake he had made and how he was going to get out alive.  To hear him tell it now Battalion Commander Corey Rose, really thought he was trapped, and after texting his position he sent a final message telling his wife and boys that he loved them.  All around him the thick belching smoke churned up and masked all but a patch of blue above the tall trees still showing through a red haze of glowing sparks.  What was he to do? Positioning his vehicle on a bridge over the gulch way above the river, he got out to assess this final situation. Remembering an image of deer in the river during a forest fire, he grabbed what gear he felt he needed, and grappled his way slipping and falling down to the water.  It was not flowing fast and he was able to immerse himself and turn his face away from the heat and the sparks roaring by at some eighty miles and hour.  With tree limbs crashing down and the and temperatures soaring to the thousands, Corey knew that it was by God’s grace that he survived that day.

At Men's Ministry at Grace Community Church, Commander Rose LAFD was our guest speaker this week. We were blessed to hear his testimony about this life changing experience, and how he expected to be admonished for the decision he made that day that had got him into such a tight spot.  Instead, he has been elevated and put back at the front of the line where his knowledge and wisdom can now be applied to benefit others at risk on our behalves.

The Fireman’s Home

For Battalion Chief Corey Rose LAFD
    John 14:3

There’s a special place in Heaven left for Firemen,
I am sure Our Savior’s setting it aside
He’s keeping it reserved
    for all who know the word
In a section that He looks upon with pride.

He knows it takes much courage and devotion
To face the heat and danger of a fire,
And when called to summon nerve
    and deal with it with verve
And a metal that we average men admire.

He’s calling every fireman back to him
Of that there really cannot be a doubt,
For in the other place below
    Where the rotten sinners go.
He doesn’t want them putting fires out.

    Neil Stewart McLeod

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Peter K. Thomas DDS - The Harder Right

Remembering My Mentor

In 1974 I entered the international dental program (Special Students) at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry.   They had a two year doctorate training for foreign trained dentists which was quite remarkable at the time.  Not only did the teach the complete dental training but they included Gnathology with guest speakers like Charles Stuart and Peter K. Thomas.

I want to remember one of my teachers today, his name was Peter K. Thomas DDS, an internationally renowned teacher and lecturer of restorative dentistry. In 1974 and ’75 at the USC  (now the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry) I attended courses from him. He was an inspirational mentor and encouraged nothing but the best, the harder right rather than the easier wrong. Once I graduated he invited me to join him at the Laguna Beach Study Club where he pounded in the refinement of Gnathological reconstruction and the art of cutting fine preparations and waxing up ideal gold onlays.  PKT took a shine to me and I certainly loved him. He always referred to himself as Papa Thomas and the picture below captured the affection between us.
Dr. Peter K Thomas with Dr. Neil McLeod in Laguna 1977

It was Dr. Thomas who got me into the International Academy of Gnathology which had some really elegant meetings. We had a dinner for Dr. Thomas in West Los Angeles which was arranged by the renowned master dental technician and laboratory owner Renzo Casellini (Swiss Quality Dental Ceramics and Dental Implant Studio) The image below was taken at that dinner and shows Peter in a private moment his hand on my hand. I was strongly encouraged to strive for the best by Peter. He always quoted Michael Angelo "Trifles make perfection and perfection is no trifle"
Dr. Peter K. Thomas and Neil McLeod at dinner

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Henry Clutton - Architect - a tribute


 Towers and Spires

A tribute to Henry Clutton of Walworth Surrey 1819-1893 
You see them across England
From Merrivale to Bath,
From Quantock Lodge and Tavistock
And up at Warden Park.
The grandest country mansions
That dominate the view
Have chimneys, towers and porticos
That Clutton built anew.

Clutton was the architect
He gave his buildings style,
With bold imposing mullions
And rooves of slate and tile,
Turrets on the corners
Towers that smack of rank,
With a clock and quarters
To conceal the water tank.

At churches, quoin and cloister   
Henry hardly had a rival,
He single handedly achieved
A neo gothic revival.
Famous Little Gidding church   
Would long have been forgotten
And we’d not have the Eliot poem
Had it not been for Clutton.

Old Battle Abbey cloisters
Lay in ruins ’till it was planned
To have them all restored again
And then by Clutton’s hand,
And many are the churches
And many a gracious spire,
That were by his design erected
We still see and admire.

Henry Owen Clutton, my maternal great grand father was an architect of some distinction, whose life and work was the subject of a doctoral thesis by Penelope S. Hunting.  In "The Life and Work of Henry Clutton 1819 - 1893, Dr. Hunting explores the professional relationship with William Burges and their design for Lille Cathedral.  The study includes the nature and distribution of Roman Catholic Church building in the second half of the nineteeth century.  My grandfather converted to Catholicism at a crucial point in his career and undertook the designs for the erection  and restoration of country churches for the Dukes of Bedford.
Henry Owen Clutton
 At a time when new construction was keenly sought to include interior lavatories and bathrooms, elevated water tanks were concealed in towers and high rooves.  The sites where Henry Clutton's work may be seen are dotted all across England and the map below shows a number but certainly not all of them.  He had a bold style with strong horizontal lines commonly incorporated in the design.
Many country homes that were built or redesigned by Clutton are featured in another book by Dr Hunting, "Henry Clutton's country houses".   A third book "The Saint and his Disciple" by this same author, explores the relationship between Cardinal Newman and the Reverend  George Dudley Ryder, and features a lot about Henry Clutton.

Henry Clutton's published work of note is "The Domestic Architecture of Medieval France" rare copies are still to be found.

Henry Clutton's greatest achievements might be considered the founding of the Architectural Museum, which was later absorbed into the Victoria and Albert Museum, and certainly the winning design of "Foederis Arca" the Lille Cathedral design competition in1856. This established Clutton as a master and leader of the Early French phase of the neo-Gothic Revival.
Sadly this winning design was never allowed to be used by the French authorities because it was discovered that the architect was English (albeit descended from Norman stock accompanying William the Conqueror in 1066 - hence the crest of Chanticleer heading this post.)

Monday, March 02, 2015

Letters From A Scottish Chief - A New Book

Years in the making here is a new book for all members of the Clan MacLeod, and for any Scottish Clan who want to see how important a chief is in growing and preserving our old heritage.  This book tells how an experienced member of a community can inspire  and influence those around them to aspire to great things.  Mentoring is an important part of attaining wisdom and experience.

At the heart of this volume lie eighteen letters from Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod to her young clansman when he was a student at university.  Her encouragement and support greatly affected the way time was used to remain involved in clan MacLeod activities after schooling was complete.  I was that student.  Dame Flora sponsored my schooling and supported me at a critical time when I was taking post graduate training here in the United States.  In California a new Clan Society was formed, the Clan McLeod Dancers was founded and and annual general meeting of the clan was held here on the "Queen Mary" in Long Beach.

Tours of the United States by prominent clan leaders were planned and hosted, most notably by Norman and Sheila of Suardal, Torquil Roderick Mcleod of the Lewes and JohnMacLeod of MacLeod.  Many clans folk from California were encouraged to make the journey over the sea to Skye to attend the Clan Parliaments.  Dame Flora's influence reaped a rich harvest.

The book is available from Amazon  Your favorable reviews will be much appreciated.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

"The Thorn With Me" a tenth book of poems

Here, at last, is my tenth book of poems with an introduction by Oxford Professor Theo Maarten van Lint.
Poetry by Neil McLeod
Here are the earliest poems I ever wrote and also some of the newest.  Reservations about their suitability and immaturity of the former have always dogged a willingness to share them.  However, at the end of producing a series of volumes of poetry, “Dawning Oxford” and “Timeless Oxford” needed somewhere to go.  They are from those student days when we spend time sorting out our priorities, working late, and reflecting on what lies ahead. In “The Going” consideration of leaving cheap digs in London provided the canvas for melancholy reminiscence.  Then there are the fanciful love poems like so many poured forth on everyday. Finally, “The View” and “The Open Fire” are the most recent and give some dimension to the collection. They are available on Amazon.

The title, “The Thorn With Me” obviously come from Burns “Ye Banks and Braes” or more correctly “The Banks of Doon”.  These reflections all have a lingering sting.  They can not be remembered without sensing again the twinge of emotion and even embarrassment.  Yet here they are heart aches and all.

Professor van Lint wrote:

The Thorn With Me takes the reader to Oxford and London, through poems written in the poet’s student days in the late sixties and early seventies, next to much more recent places and material, looking back, revisiting, reliving, and revising. The occasions are precise, the feelings retain a poignancy in memory that bridges time and convey a strong sense of place.
The tone of the poems is often parlando, with laconic rhyme, elsewhere events are carried on a song’s rhythm, while the vocabulary mixes accessible parlance with archaisms, fusing into the poet’s specific voice. There is a lightness to life that springs not from superficiality, but from resilience and a sense of humour based in what seems a matter-of-fact acceptation in advance of the bumpiness of the ride. The title goes some way to explain the attitude. Yet, one wonders about the strength of the sting the thorn causes. The hurt is present, but muted by the power that looking back and weaving memory into the tissue of today’s emotions affords. Stung, wounded, a thorn in the flesh, whether for love lost or the social indifference of urban developers pushing for a modern Babylon; Neil McLeod takes stock in epic vignettes, rather than in soul bearing lyric. Yet, tenderness and vulnerability are given voice in the present for a sister and the gift of a child. The aspect of a tale of years gone by, of a book of memory, an album, is reinforced not only by the photos and drawings adduced in embedding the poems in the realia and personalia of their time of creation, but also in the brief introductions and comments that accompany many of the poems.
A lingering impression of the collection is one of vitality and endurance, of life’s experience shot through with a childlike joy, a chronicle of gratitude tinged with melancholy about the stage upon which one performs one’s life.

University of Oxford

Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Today my great nephew Morgan Fator's first book of poems was published and is available on line from Amazon.  Why not take a look?

In my introduction I wrote:  Much verse is written, but not a lot of it is poetry. Just visit or any online forum and you will soon be agreeing with me. When the creative effort is fruitful it should be encouraged, and for this reason I am so happy to endorse Morgan’s courageous efforts here to capture his ideas and give them an image in words.

Years of home schooling under the watchful eye of his teacher, Charlotte Carlson, combined with the generous spirited love of his parents and friends have tempered the creative spirit of this imaginative young man.

Have fun with these early verses. One can only look forward with anticipation for his future efforts