Sunday, June 20, 2010

Casa Hogar – Helping the children

My good friend Nick Medoza, and excellent electrician, invited me to drive down with him to Tijuana, to spend some time with the children in the Casa Hogar Orphanage. We all piled into our cars and shortly after 7.00 a.m. we were on the road. In a few hours we were crossing the border into Mexico. Our arrival at the children’s home on the southern hillside of the city was greeted with a shower of shouted welcomes and cheers, and we all received warm hugs of welcome from these delightful youngsters as we climbed the stairs beyond the iron gates from the dusty dirt street.

My mission was to give dental advice and an examination to all who wanted it. I talked to an attentive audience about the importance of brushing and flossing, and was pleasantly surprised by how well they listened as my words were translated. Then I examined some on the children, and was able to make some treatment recommendations. I wanted to use x-rays and treat, but that I cannot do in Mexico.

Pastor Freddy Duarte and Eva Morales, are doing marvelous work devoting their lives to helping this little band, saving “Just a few star fish”, but each one will have a life that is much better for it.

When the dental exams were over we all trouped out and convoyed to Parque Morelos and there we played ball games and barbequed their dinner.

After prayers of thanks, we said good byes, and then caravanned back to wait in line for an hour watching the hawkers and beggars as we queued up to present our passports and cross back into the United States. The contrast between the chaos of Tijuana and the order and cleanliness of the United States is dramatic.

The children at Casa Hogar need help: Casa Hoar Eben-Ezer, Tijuana , B.C., Mexico.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Let Us Take Care Of Your Dental Emergency

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Sunday, June 06, 2010

A tribute to Ann FitzGerald Skipper

A tribute to Ann FitzGerald Skipper
1925 -2009
It is with great sorrow that I have to report of the demise of my dear friend Ann Skipper, who had been suffering from Alzheimer’s for some years and sustained a severe stroke late last December. She was eighty four and passed away on the 30th December. The humility and lack of fanfare typical of the family resulted in my not discovering the truth of it until now, June 2010.

After a very full life raising four boys as the wife of a schoolteacher, Ann took up Scottish Country Dancing, and became an accomplished teacher in the late 1970s. In 1983, Ann and I met at a Highland Games in Costa Mesa as a result of an introduction made by the Broadcaster Tom Girvin. She rapidly endeared herself to me and inspired me to take up Scottish Country Dancing. From that point on Scottish country dancing was a regular activity in the Clan MacLeod Society in Southern California. Together we started a dance team who came with us to the Clan MacLeod Parliaments in 1986, and 1990. In 1986 we published our first book on Scottish Country Dances that relate to the Clan MacLeod, it was called “Dances of An Island Clan”. This book was really successful and helped to inspire lots of McLeod’s across America and beyond to take up Scottish Country Dancing, and five teams were formed in the United States. Here in California the McLeod Rant was one of the most successful dances held each year.

Ann and I continued to gather dances related to the Clan and for the next 10 years worked on producing another book. As the dance teams were formed, Ann took over their coordination and became the Dance Mistress to the Clan MacLeod. In 1991 the “Ghillie Guide” was published, a small booklet with a wealth of information on the nuances of dance steps, figures and terminology needed to understand the many dances we were discovering. As dancing became popular at Clan ceilidhs Mrs. Skipper met the need for simple dances for these occasions and published “Clan MacLeod Dances For Ceilidhs” in 1993. A year later in 1994, “If the Ghille Fits…” was published, and together with“Dances of An Island Clan” it makes a unique repository of knowledge of Clan MacLeod dances and history.

It is not possible to begin to communicate the extent of the commitment and devotion Ann Skipper directed to her labors on behalf of Scottish Country Dancing, and especially to the Clan MacLeod. She was inspired in the Milligan tradition and was tireless in her work. Her academic research resulted in her readership at the Huntington Library here in San Marino, California. In 2000, as if to welcome the new Millennium, Ann published her crowning glory “Best Foot Forwards” a collection of twelve of her own dances each designed to emphasize a particular dance figure she wanted to teach. This little booklet alone represents an enormous amount of work, and places her in the ranks of the great Scottish Country Dance choreographers of the twentieth century, many of whom she new personally.

Ann stepped down as Dance Mistress to the Clan MacLeod in 2002, and in the letter to her from John MacLeod of MacLeod he wrote, “I must thank you very much for all the work you have done on the dance scene in clan MacLeod. You have been most successful in your role as teacher and enthuser and the clan is in your debt. I am sure that the heritage of dance will live on.”

Her four sons Tim, Andy, Brian and Paul, her husband Peter, the many grand children and a myriad of dancers around the world will mourn the loss of this “best of mothers and wonderful American lady” who is much loved.

Dr Neil Stewart McLeod FSA (Scot.)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Happy in America

I grew up in Africa, I’ve been to Zanzibar
I’ve seen the great Rift Valley, and it’s western rim so far,
I’ve stood on Table Mountain with Cape Town down below
A sight I’ll long remember and think about ..although...

I’m happy in America, America for me,
The land that flies the Stars and Stripes, home of the brave and free
And should my memory wander and hanker for old haunts
It’s the notion of how much I’d lack if I weren’t here that daunts.

I was born in Oxford City famed for mist and spire,
I know Scotland’s Western Isles, The land of Heart’s Desire
I traveled to Bologna to Napoli and Rome
But though I’ve loved them all at times, I do not call them home.

There’s no place quite like Rio with Christ’s statue so tall,
Few natural wonders impress like Iguacu Water Fall.
New Zealand is so beautiful, Australia’s got a reef
With the most amazing creatures in the waters underneath.

Oh! I spent time in London, that’s a city I have known,
I’ve crossed through France and taken luncheon at Chalon sur SaĆ“ne
I call the world my oyster and round it I may whirl,
But when I’m done I’m headed back to claim the greatest pearl.

I’m happy in America, America for me,
The land that flies the Stars and Stripes, home of the brave and free
And should I chance to wander and take a final fling
Doubt not that I’ll be back again, America I sing.

Memorial Day 2010

On Memorial Day the Boy Scouts help us remember the fallen by planting flags on each grave in our National Cemeteries. Although this picture taken with my son is a few years old now, it captures the sentiment of what we value most and what needs to be treasured in this great country the USA.