Saturday, November 28, 2015

Roi’s Tale - The Visitors

Here is a new Christmas poem I have written for our Sojourners Fellowship Group

A Shepherds Christmas
Luke 2:   Matthew 2:

It was a chilly evening, we were gathered round the fire,
A company of neighbors that we love and admire.
Each were telling stories they eyed me and said “Roi,
Tell us all a good one of when you were just a boy.”

I adjusted my kufiya*, eased forward on the seat,
Arranged the collar of my robe so it was straight and neat.
Then taking one sip from my bowl while thinking out my plan,
I looked around and eyed them back and softly I began.

“I’ve been a shepherd all my life I know these hillsides well,
And now well over seventy I have a tale to tell.
One night like this when I was just  lad of seven years old
My expecting mother said ‘Get your coat, it’s already turning cold.’

“Tonight you’re going with the men to keep watch o’er the flock.
We have visitors staying with us, hark I hear their knock.
They’ve all come to be counted Augustus has said so,
The place is packed, I had to let that other couple go.’

“So I went with my father and my uncle to the hills,
The air was clear and we could see our small town in the rills.
It seemed to be just nestled there so silent and so still
And here and there a spark of light came flashing up the hill.

It was really beautiful as we gazed there alone
Watching quietly by the sheep so they wouldn’t roam.
But that night something happened that we’d never seen before,
So sit back now my brothers and I’ll tell you what we saw.

The wind came moaning through the trees it whistled and it sang
Like a chorus at the temple when the sacrifice began.
The rushing clouds before us transformed to an angel winging,
And this the message that it gave came to us through the singing.

‘Fear not for I bring to you good news for all mankind,
A Savior is given today and this shall be the sign.
In Bethlehem, town of David in a manger all forlorn
All wrapped up in swaddling clothes the baby has been born.’

And there was with that angel a marvelous heavenly throng
And this the message I recall that echoed through their song,
‘Glory be to God on high and peace to men on earth
Who have His favor, for today it is the Savior’s birth.’

“Then we went running down the hill as fast as we could go.
I had a lamb around my shoulder bumping to and fro.
There at the outskirts of our town in a stable bare and small
We found the blessed baby Jesus lying in a stall.

He wasn’t sad or crying he made no alarming sound,
His mother Mary smiled at him, with Joseph looking down.
All the cattle were watching, it was holy they could tell.
We gathered round him on the straw, and on our knees we fell.

“We left there telling everyone what we had seen that night,
Spreading it through Bethlehem with the morning light.
And when I told my mother she remembered with a swoon,
That they were the same couple for whom she hadn’t room.

“The little town was humming but you know it wasn’t long
Before the census was all over, and the visitors were gone.
All except the Holy Family they’re the ones who stayed,
And we watched carefully over them and for their safety prayed.

“Now in the weeks that followed my own mother came to term
And I soon had a tiny baby brother of my own.
One night we had more visitors who came from somewhere far,
They said they found their way to us by following a star.

“When we looked in the sky above we saw that it was true
There was a bright star with a tail shining in the view.
Those visitors came bearing gifts for “The New Born Babe”
Dejectedly my mother explained the big mistake they’d made.

She said, ‘You’ve got the wrong house you want the Messiah,
They’re staying at the cottage by the farm, a little higher.’
Before they left to follow on something strange they told,
“Don’t tell any one again, do not tell a soul.”

We did not realize at that time how our lives would be changing
That with the prophecy fulfilled the world was rearranging.
Soon more visitors appeared in ranks row on row
They were looking for Jesus demanding “Do you know?”

I lost my baby brother and my mother on that day
Soldiers, at King Herod’s behest, marched in to our dismay.
My mother tried resisting she covered the baby she adored,
But they just thrust them to the ground and stabbed them with a sword.”

I’ve been a shepherd all my life I know these hillsides well,
And now well over seventy I have a tale to tell.
I saw my Savior at his birth I knew when he had died
The sky went black and hid the sun, earth trembled far and wide.

But let me tell the good news, He rose and went to heaven,
And I have known the truth of Him since I was only seven.
He is waiting there for us beside His Father’s throne
And if we just but follow Him, He’ll claim us as His own.”

*Kufiya - a head dress worn by shepherds in the middle east

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bringing The Clan Back To Dunvegan

My most recent publication is a book for adults and children alike.
With a foreword written by Chief Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod this accumulation poem is the Clan MacLeod equivalent of “The House That Jack Built” and is filled with references to the principle iconic features of clan tradition that children should know and love. It features the Castle of Dunvegan and the drinking horn, the Fairy Flag, and the great Chief, Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod.

Anne and Seamus MacKinnon have allowed me to use a particularly lovely view of the Cullins from the sea. Likewise Darby Sawchuk’s picture of the castle with the tables behind is about as good as they get. Ruari Halford MacLeod allows me to copy his drawings which so excellently augment the intent of the lines. My old friend Neil R. McLeod the photographer and Penny DeGraff have supplied excellent images of Chief Hugh and the gathered clansfolk. Lynne Leslie acted as liaison with Chief Hugh, and both must be thanked for the endorsement in the foreword.

The book is available from Amazon please review the book when you have read it.  Thank you!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Jilly Beans Coffee House Hillsdale

The Coffee Nook

I’m going down to Jilly Beans
I have to take a break,
I need a cup of coffee
And a slice of lemon cake.
I’ll sit there by the fireplace
Or in the corner nook,
Reviewing my last lecture notes
Or reading through a book.

Jill is always smiling,
She treats staff and custom well,
Even when its hopping,
They’re happy you can tell.
Local hand made treasures
Can be conned when you’re in line.
Get your card punched for each cup
One’s free - after nine.

Have you been to Jilly Beans
In Hillsdale by the square?
They serve quiche and turkey wraps
And lovely fresh baked fare.
You can sit there quietly
Or natter with your chums,
The place is quite the watering hole
For Hillsdale College “alums”.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Don't Rush To Brush

The familiar recommendation to brush our teeth after meals has now been proved to be wrong, and that our propensity to enjoy acidic food predisposes us to having slightly etched teeth with their enamel protein matrix exposed. Immediate brushing damages the exposed matrix and prevents recrystallization of the of the external calcium hydroxyapatite crystals. We should wait for and hour or so.

Have you ever bitten into a lemon
And noticed how rough each tooth grows?
Well, they have been etched
And their protein matrix,
Where enamel’s dissolved, is exposed.

But check your teeth two hours later
The feeling of roughness is gone,
Your saliva you see
Quite miraculously
Grows the crystals back all on its own.

A lot of our foods are acidic,
We like that it gives them a “bite”,
But the protein’s exposed
On which enamel grows,
And brushing that off isn’t right.

So don’t rush to brush after eating.
If you must brush then do it before,
They’ve been teaching us wrong
For ever so long,
And we shouldn’t do that any more.

We used to say brush after eating,
Which would ruin the lingering flavor
The reason they grieve,
Was the food that you leave?
On your teeth does the germs a big favor.

Enjoy your food while you can taste it,
Take time to relax when you’re done.
Don’t rush to brush
And make all that fuss,
It isn’t right and it’s not fun.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Marjorie Neely at Ninety

Saturday the 20th of June saw a great celebration for an accomplished age. Family from far and near gathered to pay tribute to Marjorie Neely who has turned ninety.

All her children, Dan from Montana, Richard from Oregon, John from Florida,  Paula from Santa Cruz, Nancy from Los Angeles and Jenny from Redding, Northern California, converged on her grand daughter Christine's home in Woodland just north of Sacramento.  What a throng with grandchildren all around!  The drums were throbbing and their was singing and even a poem specially written for the occasion.  Dressed in blue and surrounded by love, it was a grand occasion.

At Ninety
for Marjorie Neely

Grandma has turned ninety
That’s what we’re gathered for,
With friends and family all around
I’m just a son in law.
But just like every one of you
I feel my life is better,
For she’d not let a birthday by
Without a card or letter.

Grandma has turned ninety
Her children are all near,
To celebrate this milestone
They’ve traveled to be here.
Recently days have been filled
Rifling through box and drawer
To come up with mementos
Of the times we love her for.

Grandma has turned ninety,
Oh! I recall the day
We gathered at the airport
And for Scotland flew away.
At every turn she did her bit,
We were glad that she came,
We had three little ones in tow
In car and train and plane.

Grandma has turned ninety
Her daughter is my bride,
To say I love them, just like you
’s’a truth I cannot hide.
And should you con the snaps we take
Around Thanksgiving time,
They are both together with us all
Standing in the line.

Grandma has turned ninety,
She can’t do all that’s new,
She doesn’t post on facebook much
And e-mail like you do.
But she has got a tale to tell
Which you won’t want to miss,
So gather round and listen,
And give Grandma a kiss.

Grandma has turned ninety,
I recall when as a groom
She danced at our wedding
In that big living room.
With the family all around us
Just like we are today,
Another reason to give thanks,
To bow our heads and pray.

Grandma has turned ninety
Our warrior in prayer,
At every turn for each of us
She asks God for his care.
So when a blessing’s given
Or a bounty that we share,
We should offer thanks for her
And thank Him that she’s there.

Grandma has turned ninety
This is a ripe old age
It may be the last chapter
But what a glowing page.
We don’t count the hours,
I think you’ll understand
But we’re glad she’s with us today
So let’s give her a hand!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Precision Attachment Alternative to Implants

Implants are a wonderful innovation, we use them in dentistry to replace missing teeth.  For those who do not want implants, or do not have the bone to place implants the precision attachment partial is often and extremely viable alternative.

It is possible to make partial dentures that do not show in the smile, which can restore the function of the mouth. Furthermore it is possible to design and provide such treatments in a month.  A great time saving.  Remember, implants frequently require bone grafts to support them which take three months to organize into solid bone, and then the implant itself can take three to six months to integrate before it can be finally restored.

Precision attachments are an excellent alternative if you have some well supported teeth which can be used to support them.

Here is an example of missing teeth in the upper jaw being replaced with a precision attachment retained removable bridge. This extraordinary crown and bridgework was engineered by Renzo Casellini at Swiss Quality Dental implant Studio, with whom I have had the pleasure to work since 1976.

This is a Ceka retained Precision Attachment removable bridge

So if you are someone you know needs advanced restorative dentistry consider send them to me for a review.  I have been making smiles functional and beautiful in Hollywood for nearly forty years.

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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Editor for LADS Explorer

I have accepted a small task as editor of the Los Angeles Dental Society Newsletter.

Here is the first Editor's Corner: